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How To Host A Successful Online Garage Sale

Miranda Crace5-minute read
May 19, 2021

Many of us have really come to embrace decluttering since we’ve been cooped up in our homes for the last year. Realizing our stuff is no longer sparking joy, we’d love to throw it all on some tables and put out a garage or yard sale sign out front.

But in the age of COVID-19, who’s going to come? And is your garage big enough to allow for social distancing? Finally, who even wants to touch cash after it’s been passed from one hand to another? Enter the online garage sale.

How Does A Virtual Yard Sale Work?

For some people, the joy of a yard sale is the physicality of removing their stuff, arranging it to its best advantage and waiting for crowds to appear, compliment their taste and pay them. But there are several advantages to going online.

List The Items You Want To Sell

Instead of setting up your sale, you can find an area of your home with good lighting and stage your items to their best advantage. Unless you’re an experienced photographer conversant in uploading your work, it’s probably best to just use your phone to simplify the process. Then, write a brief description, set a price and wait for offers to roll in.

Mention Your Payment Options

When you list your items, you can specify exactly which payment options you’ll accept. If you don’t want to handle cash at all, you can list cash transfer apps like Venmo or PayPal.

Arrange For Pickup

Once the payment has been accepted, the buyer and seller can communicate through the app to arrange for inspection and pickup. No personal contact information is required.

What Are The Benefits Of Having An Online Garage Sale?

In addition to potentially making more than you expected, there are a number of benefits that make online garage sales worth it.

Items Are Listed And Organized Into Categories

Because buyers can search in the categories they’re interested in, your items will be seen by people who are actually looking for them. Having a bigger and more targeted audience should get more of your goods sold and at a higher price. And because buyers can reserve items, they’ll be more likely to make the trip to complete the transaction.

Check Similar Items And Match Their Prices

If you aren’t sure how much to ask for, you can look through listings for items similar to yours and price accordingly. Remember, this is a garage sale, and buyers are looking for bargains. Make sure your prices are in line with what others are offering.

Nonetheless, you might be surprised to find that items like yours are selling for more than you had imagined. Not only are they being shown to more interested buyers, but many items are still difficult to come by because of pandemic-related supply chain problems, so buyers who wouldn’t typically shop garage sales are more willing to consider used items.

Transactions Are Quick And Local

Of course, you want to make some money, but mostly, you just want your stuff gone. Online garage sales are geared toward those who are local to your area who can pick up their purchases the same or next day.

Contactless Online Sales Minimize Health And Safety Risks

Even garage sales pose some risk these days.

Safety

A garage sale can present a security risk. Having strangers in your home allows bad actors to size up your home’s security measures and who lives in your home. 

The best part about the online garage sale might be that you don’t have to have strangers come into your home. You can arrange to meet a buyer in a mutually convenient public place without ever sharing any personal contact information.

Health

Used in combination with other apps, like PayPal, Venmo or Square, you can decide upfront if you want to handle cash.

The Best Online Garage Sale Apps For Your Sale

Without further ado, here is our list of the best apps for you to check out before your next garage sale.

Craigslist

The granddaddy of the local online sales, Craigslist offers local online classified ads that allow you to connect with a host of local sales and services. It’s not fancy, and it doesn’t offer a handy interface to ask questions. You have to post personal contact information to facilitate communication with those interested in what you’re offering for sale. All that said, Craigslist is free, it works and it’s a go-to for lots of prospective buyers.

VarageSale

Easy to set up and easy to use, VarageSale is preferred by those with lots of items for sale because listing is quick and allows for a description of the product and what makes it unique. Once you download that app, available for iOS or Android, you join through your Facebook page, which allows sellers to view the buyer’s profile before deciding whether to move the transaction forward.

Once inside, you can join the geographic area in which you wish to sell. Buyers in the same area can then view your merchandise, and can ask questions or agree to make the purchase.

OfferUp

OfferUp is another online marketplace where you can buy and sell everything from baby toys to cars and trucks. You can list very quickly here, as the app allows a picture and tag only. OfferUp also allows sellers to list items that they are willing to ship, so if you’d like to expand your online garage sale into a side hustle, you can do that here, too.

OfferUp has also joined forces with letgo as it seeks to increase its share of online marketplace traffic.

Venmo Or PayPal

While neither Venmo nor PayPal is a listing site, you’ll want to use one or both of these contactless payment methods. Allowing buyers to use these apps means they aren’t limited to the amount of cash on hand. You don’t want to create hurdles for buyers, and making them stop for more cash could be a big enough hurdle to turn a “I’ve got to have that!” into a “never mind.”

These apps offer lots of perks to make your online garage sale successful. For example, Venmo allows you to promote your garage sale across social media platforms. PayPal, on the other hand, offers a mini-escrow account: The buyer can pay you, but PayPal will hold the payment to allow the buyer a brief window to inspect the item and release the payment.

Nextdoor

Another hyperlocal site, Nextdoor is an app that connects you to what’s happening in your neighborhood. It also allows you to list your sale items, and it’s a great way to promote your sale among your neighbors.

Facebook

If you aren’t interested in expanding your app horizons to include the latest garage sale technology, you can always turn to the old standby that is Facebook. You can list your goods for sale with their Marketplace feature, and communicate with potential buyers right through the app.

What If I Have Items Of Value To Sell?

If you’re a collector of higher-end items, you already know you’ll never get an offer that comes close to market value at a yard sale.

Research

Your best bet would be to search the item online and see if you can find a community of collectors. The popular discussion site Reddit has a seemingly infinite variety of communities, and is a great place to ask questions about where to sell.

Use A Major Platform

Amazon and eBay are some other good sources for pricing information, and you can sell on both these major platforms as well. However, you’ll have to ship the item to the buyer, and you’ll have to comply with any applicable return policies as well. Only you can decide if you’re willing to take that on in return for a potentially higher sales price.

The Bottom Line: Going Virtual Can Maximize Your Profits And Minimize Your Risks

These days, you can sell your things online with the simple download of an app. It might even earn you more to sell online, and – who knows? – it might just turn into your new side gig. As you continue to mitigate your health and safety risks, learn more about creating a healthy home.

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    Miranda Crace

    The Rocket Homes blog is here to bring you all you need to know about buying, selling and making the most of your home. Whether you’re thinking about becoming a homeowner, selling your current home or looking to keep your place in tip-top shape, our writers and freelancers bring their experience and expertise to meet you right where you are.