If you're like many Americans, kicking off the new year right means spending time decluttering your home and cleaning out the closets and junk drawers that inevitably fill up throughout the year. That may even include a few unwanted holiday gifts that you haven't yet found a place for.
If you choose to resell your unwanted items, cleaning out your home may help you add some extra dollars to your 2020 budget.
Here are five strategies shopping and resale experts recommend you employ to help you get the most money for any items you're looking to part with.
Clothes you plan to resell should be undamaged and in-season. "You'll likely have less luck sending bathing suits and summer sandals in January," Sam Blumenthal, spokesperson for resale site thredUP, tells CNBC Make It.
Make sure the clothes are clean and in the best possible condition. "We recommend laundering or steaming your items, removing any stains and mending things such as loose buttons," Blumenthal says. "Being unclean is one of the top reasons items get rejected."
Even if you're selling used devices, it never hurts to give that old phone or tablet a quick clean to show off its prime condition.
If you're new to the resale game, take some time to browse your options. There are dozens of popular resale sites and apps, which include everything from general interest places like eBay, Facebook Marketplace and Mercari, to clothing-specific ones such as Poshmark and thredUP, to tech and device hubs like Decluttr. That's in addition to the more traditional outlets like resale and consignment shops.
No matter where you go to sell your things, you need to understand how the selling process works and how you're getting paid. Poshmark gives you the power to set your prices, whereas thredUP determines what clothing it will accept and the price its team expects it will sell best at.
There is also a cost to using these services, typically through lower payouts, commissions or upfront fees. When items are sold on Poshmark for $15 or less, the app charges sellers $2.95. Anything selling for more than $15 gives the app a 20% commission. In comparison, eBay typically charges 35 cents to list most items (the first 50 items you list are free) and while commissions vary, most sellers pay eBay about 10% of the final cost of the item.
It may also help to research how much time, on average, the process will take with different services, as well as how much time you'll need to devote to make sure things sell. Currently, thredUP estimates it will take about two weeks to process orders or you can pay an extra $16 to guarantee you'll get it processed within one week.
On Poshmark, the timing can vary widely because it is a social sharing app, Lauren Greutman, a frugal living expert and founder of LaurenGreutman.com, tells CNBC Make It. In order for you to sell an item quickly, you need to share it during the day to followers of your account, she says. Poshmark also has multiple "Posh Parties" per day that curate sales for specific types of items or brands. If your listing is pulled into one of these, you have a greater chance at selling.
"EBay is easier in the sense that you can just list and forget about it," Greutman says. "Poshmark is more time intensive because in order to sell items fast you need to share them to your followers during the day."
If you're really looking to maximize your potential profits, you need to find out which items and brands sell best. You may love that quirky skirt from a popular Instagram brand, but that doesn't mean it will sell.
For those considering thredUp, the service offers a handy seller's guide that outlines what types of clothing are hot items right now, such as fashionable activewear and designer shoes and handbags. Blumenthal says the most popular brands on thredUP include The North Face, Lululemon and Kate Spade, along with luxury brands such as Gucci, Prada and Burberry.
In general, Greutman says brands that have a "cult following," like Lululemon and Anthropologie, almost always sell easily. Current styles are also a good bet. To find out what sells the best, Greutman uses the website shopbop.com and checks out what they have listed. YouTube also has a lot of great tutorials on brands to look for, she adds.
During the latest holiday season, Decluttr reports the hottest selling tech items included phones such as the iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X and Samsung S9, as well as the Apple Watch Series 4 GPS + Cellular 44 and the PS4 (500GB) gaming system. "It seems gamers are cashing in whilst trade in-prices are at a high," Liam Howley, CMO at Decluttr, says, adding that there's a "jam-packed gaming release schedule" around the corner in 2020 that will likely cause the cost of these systems to drop once newer versions are on sale.
If you're looking to unload an old phone, check out SellCell.com, which compares prices from all the leading cell phone buyers in the U.S. The site offers an easy way to compare prices, but only on phones.
When it comes to selling your unwanted items, you may have to put in quite a lot of work to really get the most money for your stuff. If you're looking to unload things quickly and conveniently, you may not get the best price.
Many resale sites and apps are designed to focus on convenience. "It's important for sellers to keep in mind that thredUP is the most convenient place for women to clean out everything in their closet — from GAP to Gucci — not necessarily the place they will make the most money (since thredUP does all the work for you!)," Blumenthal says.
Many tech-centric resale sites also focus on convenience, rather than getting you the best possible price. With TargetTrade-In.com, you can trade in your unwanted electronics — from phones and tablets to game consoles and voice speakers — for a Target gift card. But an unlocked iPhone 6 with 64GB of storage in working condition nets you just $13.76 on the site, compared to $59 on Decluttr.
If you're using a resale site or app where you're creating the listing, it helps to be as specific as possible and give potential buyers the clearest idea of what they're buying. That means writing vivid descriptions, giving exact dimensions and posting a lot of great photos. On eBay especially, you really need to have good photos and the right keywords to stand out, Greutman says.
That's because the photo is probably the first interaction a potential buyer is going to have with your item. If it's dark or discolored or the item looks unappealing, it's not going to spark interest. "Making sure that you have good lighting is important as well," Greutman says, adding she also includes measurements in all her listings. "This helps them sell faster," she says.
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