Providing an easy solution to a difficult situation
We have created this section to help you with practical aspects related to the probate process, and
how to sell your inherited property fast.
September 22, 2009 My Ebay Method: 13 Steps to Profitable Auctions
My Ebay Method: 13 Steps to Profitable Auctions
Does your inheritance include collectibles, up to date electronics, sporting goods or hobby items? Clean out your inherited home and make some real cash selling items on Ebay. Here's a helpful guide to making the most from your probate property online.
In February I sold $1500 of geek goods to raise money so that I could make accelerated debt payments. My auctions consistently fetched more money than concurrent auctions for similar items. Something about my method works. I recommend the following steps:
Research the hell out of each item you post. Dig through
eBay to find what similar items fetch (and how often they sell). Check
other places (Amazon, abebooks.com, other forums) to see what they
charge for the item.
Use low starting bids. Low starting bids cost less to list,
and they encourage participation. The more popular you expect an item
to be, the lower you should set the starting bid. If you expect only a
few bids, start bidding closer to your minimum desired sale point. For
example, I sold some Tolkien videos on VHS that I thought would receive few bids, so I set my minimum bid at about $10. Do not use a reserve.
Start your listings on Thursday afternoons and evenings. Run ten-day listings.
Time your auctions to end on Sunday evening between seven and ten
Eastern (four and seven Pacific). This gives two weekends to attract
If needed, pay the extra ten cents to prepare listings in advance and schedule them to start on Thursday evenings. Prepare a group of listings in advance, then schedule them to start within a couple of hours of each other. (Don't have your listings end closer than within two minutes of each other.)
Offer free shipping and delivery confirmation. You could
charge for these, but free shipping builds goodwill. Delivery
confirmation gives you peace of mind. Free insurance is of dubious
value; I sometimes offer it, but generally only on expensive items. You
might offer it as a customer-paid option.
Offer a money-back guarantee, but only for when the item is not as described. (Not for when a person changes his mind or makes a mistake.)
Craft your auction title with care. For example, I recently sold a book entitled The Hidden Game of Baseball by John Thorn and Pete Palmer. I could
have put all that into my auction title, but it would have been a
waste. My title was geared toward keywords that I believed interested
buyers would use: HIDDEN GAME OF BASEBALL Thorn Palmer SABR Bill James. Bill James
had nothing to do with the book, but fans of Bill James would be likely
to purchase it. You want many people to see your items in their search
Write a good description listing the strengths and flaws of your item.
Write things like "I think this book is in great shape, but be aware
that the cover has a small tear and the previous owner's name is on the
flyleaf", etc. Try to place additional keywords in the description, but
sprinkled into conversational sentences. For example, in my auction for
the Tolkien animated films on VHS, I used the names of Peter Jackson, Liv Tyler, etc.
Be thorough. Many people advocate short descriptions. I disagree. I think that long descriptions are best, especially if they use bold text and highlighting to emphasize the important aspects of your auction.
Refuse to accept bids from headaches: people with negative
feedback, people who haven't been paying, foreign bidders. (Note:
foreign bidders aren't a headache for everyone; if you love ‘em, let
Take photos and post them in the description. Use the 35-cent gallery feature so that your photo appears when people browse listings. If condition is a concern, use many photos to convey the state of the item.
Answer questions. You will receive many questions about your
items. Some of the questions will be stupid. Answer them anyhow. If
it's a question that many people are likely to have, post the your
Be amiable! A friendly, easy-going persona is going to
receive better response than a brusque, business-like persona. Make
jokes. Show enthusiasm.
Like garage sales, eBay is a great way to simultaneously purge your life of stuff and make money while doing so. A little extra time and care in creating your listings can yield a huge increase in profits.
Personal Finance That Makes Sense
September 9, 2009 Tips for Having a Successful Garage Sale
Garage Sale Ideas
Do you have not just a garage full but an entire housefull of items in an inherited home that you need to sell? A garage sale can significantly reduce your inventory and put cash in your pockets. Advertise it as an Estate Sale so garage salers know you have a whole houseful of furnishings available. Below are some great tips to a successful garage sale.
By Barbara Crews, About.com
Although I have found great collectibles at garage sales, I don't
have time to garage sale as much as I used to. Probably a good thing,
since we're running out of space!
But I think we do a pretty good job of putting one on, as we
consider it a bad day if we make less than $400. Of course we usually
have lots of stuff to get rid of, old collections, etc, so our family
results are not typical of most folks. We usually hold a sale every 12
- 18 months and my two (adult) daughters always take part.
will often sell inexpensive collectibles, stuff I am paring down or not
interested in anymore. Selling online is not always worthwhile to me,
e.g. if I have a collectible or piece that might sell for $10. on eBay,
I am happy to sell it at a garage sale for $4. to $5. No commissions to
eBay and Paypal and no time spent wrapping and taking the box to the
These are our top tips for having a terrific garage sale from years of
experience, as well as ideas used from the forum, tips that have helped
make a big difference.
Countdown to a Garage / Tag Sale -- One Month to Go
Go through closets, kitchen drawers, the kids toys, clothing closets and start filling boxes.
Start saving grocery sacks.
Scout out tables and clothes racks that can be borrowed to be used in the sale.
Do a little arm-twisting for help on the big day, two people to working a sale is okay, three people working is much better.
Two Weeks to Go
Decide where and how many signs you need, then visit an office supply
store to pick up a few pre-printed signs (cheap and so much easier to
use than homemade signs).
Supplies: Buy (or gather up) colored price stickers, poster boards, masking tape, Ziploc bags and a few black markers.
Find out if your city requires a permit to host a garage sale.
the newspaper classified ad deadlines, look into your church or school
bulletins that might also allow you to mention the sale.
One Week to Go
Start saving newspapers to wrap fragile items.
Wash and clean everything. Sounds simple, but many times I've
seen garage sales where the stuff looks so yucky I wouldn't even want
to touch it, much less buy it.
If you're going to donate the leftovers, find out who will come pick
them up or where you can take them immediately after the sale. Goodwill
has a drop-off area just for that specific purpose a few miles from us.
We bundle up our stuff and take it that evening. There are charities
that will arrange for a pick-up the week after the garage sale, but
make sure they know it's from a garage sale. I always donated to the
Salvation Army until the time they came for pick-up and wouldn't take
anything because some of the stuff still had garage sale price tags on
it. I was not a happy camper when I had to move numerous boxes of stuff
back into the garage and find someone else to pick it up.
Two - Three Days to Go
If you are having the sale in an enclosed/covered area, start setting out tables and clothes racks and placing items out.
Use Ziploc bags for small items that are
hard to put a sticker on, such as little toys with extra pieces, also for jewelry that might be easily walked off with.
Keep like items together, books on one table, kitchen stuff on another, etc.
Get a large cardboard box or two for freebies. Label the box "Free for Kids Only".Fun
goodies like McDonald Happy Meal toys, balls, toy cars, crayons, etc,
things that might sell for a quarter or so are put in the box. This
keeps the kids busy while their parents shop and is always a big hit.
Pricing and Protecting
Use colored stickers so that items don't have to be individually
marked. Post a legend on a prominent posterboard -- e.g. orange sticker
is 25 cents, red sticker is fifty cents.
Also use the posterboard to put up prices of items that will
all be the same price: e.g. jeans - 50 cents, hardcover books - $1.,
etc. That way they don't have to be individually marked.
Scotch tape two-piece breakables together, but not if it's cold-painted, be sure tape won't take off finish!
Several years ago we started putting up a sign advertising everything
left would be 1/2 price after 3 PM, with the exception of a few things
marked firm. No more haggling during the day and we were surprised at
how many folks did come back.
Price things realistically, give folks a bargain, but don't give it
away. I vividly remember a scene a few years ago when we had a few mens
golf shirts for sale, excellent condition for fifty cents. Someone
wanted to pay a quarter each and wouldn't take no for an answer. I
finally grabbed the shirts and put them in a box to donate.
You'll never get book value or even close to it at a garage sale, but
it's still nice to know what something might be worth online. So if
you're not familiar with the value of an item, check online to see what
it is selling for on eBay (checked closed auctions!). It might be worth
holding onto and selling at a later date online.
Day of the Sale
Get up early and have someone put the signs out (or do it the night before).
Put on a pot of coffee -- put out a few Styrofoam cups and offer it to those early morning shoppers (free).
Designate one person to be in charge of the money box, as well as
keeping a close eye on any small valuable items, remove the larger
bills out of the money box periodically through the day.
Open the doors at the time mentioned in the ad, we never open
early, it annoys those who play "fair" and show up at the right time.
Say hello and goodbye to shoppers, it's not any fun to go to a sale
where you are completely ignored by the seller who is reading a book or
engrossed in a long-winded telephone conversation. You should never be
too busy to say hello.
When people purchase a breakable, be sure to wrap it up in newspaper
before bagging it up. Or if you are super busy, give them the space and
opportunity to pack it themselves.
When it's time to discount the stuff 50(or whatever) remove any items
that were marked firm and put them away or on a special table.
When the sale is over, pack away all your stuff, separating stuff
you might want to keep from the stuff to be donated to charity.
Fold up the tables and racks while you still have your helpers, then go inside and count your profits!