How to Downsize Your Home Slowly Using eBay

downsizing with eBay
Downsizing is a process that takes time. Getty Images

Downsizing is a trend for several different segments of the population. Some people are downsizing their parents stuff as they help them move into assisted living or retirement communities. Others are choosing to downsize from a traditional large home as their youngest children are leaving for college or getting married. No need to pay utility bills or the upkeep for a 2,000-3,000 square foot home when only 1 or 2 people are living there.

The Tiny House Movement is becoming more popular as people are choosing to trade a large expensive living space for a small, compact, and portable home they can function in just about anywhere. Whatever your situation is, you will need to donate, re-home, sell, or throw out your accumulated stuff to move into something smaller. This is where eBay can make the process lucrative.

Real estate experts say it takes 12-18 months to effectively downsize 10 years or more of accumulation. Once you start digging through closets, drawers, attics, basements, garage, and heaven forbid, additional storage buildings on your property, the accumulation is always more than you predicted. By creating a process for downsizing, you can sort your possessions into these categories:

  • Trash 
  • Donate
  • Give to relatives or friends
  • Sell 

How to Determine What to Sell on eBay

This is a common question as the eBay world can be overwhelming to those who have never sold before.

All kinds of things that look like junk can actually be valuable collectibles. For example, these types of items can sell for good money on eBay:

  • Vintage matchbooks
  • Old yearbooks from high school or college
  • Old license plates
  • Old advertising promotional items like coffee mugs, ice trays, bottle openers, key chains (especially if from a company that no longer exists)
  • Ephemera—things made of paper like post cards, old letters, address books, anything with beautiful penmanship or cursive writing
  • Anything in vintage packaging

The list is really endless. This is where a trained eBay eye will come in handy because trash may not look like cash to someone who is not eBay savvy. If you have never sold on eBay, the best way to approach this is to find an eBay Consignment Seller to work with. An eBay consignment seller is someone who sells things for a commission for other people. They can come to your home, assess what you have, and sell the items on eBay usually for about 50 percent commission.

If you would rather learn how to sell your own things on eBay and avoid the commission, eBay has an easy step by step guide for learning to sell. Millions of people have taught themselves how to sell, so you can, too. eBay selling is a skill you can use forever, so consider the time investment in learning an investment in your own education and financial future. In other words, you will be better off knowing how to sell on eBay yourself.

How to Start Downsizing

Downsizing can be an overwhelming process. Understand that it takes time. It has taken years, or decades, to accumulate everything in your home so it will take months to go through all of your possessions and determine what to keep and what to let go.

Downsizing can also be an emotional process as you come across items you have forgotten about and haven't seen in years or decades. You may open an old trunk or box and start looking at some things from the past and 3 hours later wonder where they afternoon has gone. Here are some practical steps for beginning the downsizing process:

  1. Get the family on board. They need to be aware that you are going through this process and their old stuff may be coming their way. Don't throw out anybody else's stuff! Ask them first. There is nothing worse than a 40 year old child having a meltdown because you threw away their lunchbox from 3rd grade, even if they haven't seen it in 30 years. 
  2. Choose one room at a time. Stay focused on one area. This is a process and will be more tiring and emotional than you predict.
  1. Sort into the 4 categories listed above.
  2. Understand you can't keep everything. Avoid opening a storage unit to hold items until you can make a decision. Make the decision now. If you don't, somebody else will have to do it later. Save your children and family the hassle and burden of downsizing your things after you have gone.
  3. Either learn eBay yourself, or find someone to start selling things from the eBay pile.

 

Tips for Using an eBay Consignment Seller

If learning eBay yourself is too overwhelming and you decide to use a consignment seller, you will want to check them out before hiring them. Find out what kinds of items they specialize in, how long they have been selling, how you will get the proceeds from your sales, and what happens if an item gets returned.

Respect that the consignment seller knows more about eBay than you do, that is why you hired them. It is common for someone to think an item is worth more on eBay than it really is. Remember that your items are sentimental to you, or may have been expensive when you bought them, but that does not mean they are currently valuable on the eBay market now. An item is only worth what someone will pay for it.

Start of small with a few items at a time. The best items for eBay are small and easy to ship, so they usually won't be able to sell furniture, exercise equipment, or large appliances for you. Starting off small and slow gives you time to understand the process and learn to work with your consignment seller. 

Tips for Selling on eBay Yourself

Again, understand this is a process that takes time. When learning to sell, start with items that sell for under $20 and are easy to ship while you learn. If you are brand new to eBay and don't have any feedback, don't sell expensive items as you could be the victim of scams. Check out this article on The Balance, "10 Important Tips for New eBay Sellers."