With warmer temps comes the urge for summertime cleaning. As we go through our houses and apartments tidying up or perhaps making room for new old treasures, inevitably, we uncover and rediscover things stashed away.
We tend to hold on to things thinking we will need them in the future, or that our children or grandchildren will want them. At some point, however, we come to realize we can’t keep everything and that those things that were at one time prized may no longer have significant value. Or vice versa.
Cash in: What's hot
When queried about what items are currently bringing surprising sales results, Everything But The House co-founder Brian Graves says artwork and jewelry continue to be steady performers.
If you have a signed piece of artwork but can’t find any sales results, that doesn’t necessarily mean the piece as little or no value. “Artwork can be tricky when dealing with recently deceased artists or artists without sale records,” Graves explains.
“We come across artwork that has been stashed away and set aside fairly regularly,” he continues. By selling works by unknown artists, EBTH plays a part in creating a market history for previously unsold artists. (Searchable sales results are available on www.ebth.com.)
Graves goes on to explain, “A lot of people don’t necessarily recognize modern design trends” such as Modern Farmhouse, Art Deco, Hollywood Regency, or Industrial. People could be cleaning out their homes, closets, garages and come across something, he says, like maybe an old ‘Yard Sale’ sign from the 1970s, and think it has no value and throw it away. “It might be of value to someone who appreciates the Modern Farmhouse design style,” Graves cautions.
Pillows are another case in which the value might be underestimated. Not just any pillows, however; high-end designer pillows and well-executed needlepoint pillows might bring hundreds of dollars. Graves points out “these things often fly under the radar anywhere else” [other than Everything But The House, whose mission is to be the world’s largest and most trusted marketplace for estate sales].
When it comes to objects for which there really isn’t a market, Graves says, “There was a period of time when people were buying large pieces of furniture for storage or display.” They were buying armoires to hold their TVs and electronic components; this was furniture that was reasonably expensive to acquire. “But entertainment centers today and china cabinets don’t have a place in the home like they used to,” he explains. “We’re not displaying china and crystal and Hummel collections like we used to. People don’t have a place for those large pieces anymore.”
Joining large, clunky furniture in the limited value categories are mass-produced collectibles like Beanie Babies and collector plates, as well as outdated technology. Graves explains that the technology “isn’t old enough to be considered ‘early technology’ like the Apple I, but not new enough to be usable. A lot of times that comes as a surprise to a seller because they cost thousands of dollars in their day, but they’ve fallen in value rather quickly.”
But there are always exceptions, which is why Graves advises always consulting a professional first. “At EBTH, we’ll sell a Bose Wave radio for at least $150, to as much as $350-$450, but the boom box from Radio Shack might not have any value.”
Graves says another option is to research through EBTH.com or eBay to find comparables. If you see there’s limited value, talk to charities, or you might have to accept your TV or other electronic components have outlived their time and it’s time to recycle or dispose of them.
Where to start with sorting/cleaning
Graves says cleaning and downsizing always comes back to deciding what’s salable, what’s able to be donated, or what’s trash. If handling the downsizing process yourself, use caution and make a thorough inspection. He says at Everything But The House it’s not uncommon to find autographs between the pages of books, or rings and jewelry hidden in jackets. These turn out to be unexpected windfalls for the sellers.
When it comes to winnowing out those things that have to go, there are professionals who are ready and willing to help. Graves advises, “There are plenty of people out there who are willing to partner with you; don’t be afraid to call for help.” Although you may never know what you missed when downsizing, which could turn out to be a find of a lifetime for an unsuspecting buyer, you’ll reap the added reward of peace of mind if using an estate sale professional.
Whether you are buying or selling, Everything But The House is one market option to consider. Graves assures, “EBTH has worked very hard to create an inclusive and approachable platform that represents a full service solution for our sellers. We’re not a peer-to-peer marketplace or an aggregator of other auction houses, and therefore we work directly with both the buyer and the seller to ensure satisfaction.
“EBTH buyers can have the confidence to bid on items regardless of their location since EBTH stands behind the items represented based on the research provided by its expert staff,” he continues. “Over the past decade, we’ve brought together sellers and buyers, all supported by EBTH’s knowledgable and caring staff, to create a marketplace that levels the playing field, eliminates presence, and maintains everyone’s collective best interest.”