How to Sell Heirloom Furniture

chair drawing

There comes a time when:

a. You become tired of your furniture and need a major update, or

b. You have a friend or family member who has lots of older furniture and other items that no one else in the family can use.

What to do? Here’s a quick guide on how to sell your heirlooms that doesn’t involve your becoming a Craigslist or eBay expert. Notice I said, “heirlooms”. You must first establish if you have any antiques.  Is the item over 100 years old? Does it have historical significance or a beautiful patina? Then it may be an antique, and should first be appraised.

Anything younger falls into “vintage” or “collectible” category meaning that it could be either an older reproduction of an antique or a piece made less than 99 years ago that is representative of the style at the current time. A good example of the latter is mid-century modern.

Mid-Century_Modern_Home_with_open-beam_ceiling_1960

Charles S. Pharr Jr., the owner of  Aardvark Antiques & Estate Liquidations  and Four Seasons Auction Gallery has some great advice. The first being, set reasonable expectations as some heirlooms might not be worth as much as you think. The dark woods than one generation loved doesn’t have the same appeal to everyone. Here’s a simple step by step approach.

  1. HAVE THE ITEM APPRAISED

Your parents and even you may have an idea as to how much it is worth, but you won’t know for sure until a professional appraises it. Either way, knowing exactly how much it is worth can help you sell it without shortchanging yourself.

  1. DOCUMENT THE ITEM

Take several photos of the heirloom, including any special markings. Make note of its appearance, condition, and those same markings, as well. If you decide to contact an expert for a second opinion or an auction house, you’ll need to provide as much information as possible.

antique table

  1. DO YOUR RESEARCH

Take a look online and see if there is a market for the heirloom you want to sell. Are people selling similar items? Are people in search of those items? Are there message boards, communities, social media pages, and other sites dedicated to collecting those items? Google what you are trying to sell and take a look at current prices.

  1. KNOW YOUR OPTIONS

There are many outlets for selling heirlooms and antiques:

  • Advertise on Craigslist or eBay;
  • Conduct your own yard/estate sale;
  • Bring in a professional estate sale company for a total liquidation (usually right before a house is put on the market)
  • Consign the furniture; or
  • Send the furniture to be auctioned.

When evaluating estate sale or auction companies be sure to read each company’s contract which should clearly delineate how much they charge, what services they provide, and give an estimated timeline, as well as post-sale documentation and payment.

Advertising is critical. How do they do it? How many websites will your items or sale be featured? Do they have a large social media presence and large following? How many people are on their mailing list?

 

  1. BE PATIENT

If you want to get rid of the item quickly, you may have to take a price cut. But if you choose an option like consignment, the right buyer will eventually come along and pay more.

Here are some resources, although they are not endorsements:

Professional Appraisal:

Consignments, Estate Sales and Auctions:

 

Senior Transitions:

Done and Done, Amanda Thrasher, 404-819,0374
Amanda’s team will manage the process of downsizing including selling family heirlooms and managing the move.

 

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