As Senior Move Managers®, we’re often asked these questions:

  • What will I do with all my “stuff” when I downsize?
  • How should I sell my “stuff”?
  • What is my “stuff” worth if I sell it?

These are all great questions that deserve honest and straightforward answers. However, the challenge in providing a universal response is: there are different answers for each individual person’s or family’s situation. The best solution for one person might not be a good solution for another. So how do we address these questions when asked? At the risk of sounding somewhat non-committal, I’ll give it a try.

How should people dispose of their things or “stuff” when they downsize? It largely depends on what the stuff is and how much of it there is. Let’s assume that the downsizer has given away all the items that they wanted family and friends to have. In assessing what remains, are there enough saleable items to warrant holding an estate auction, estate sale or yard sale? If not, maybe using online resale or auction sites are better options. Donating gently used items to charities can be a practical solution. This will require some legwork and having knowledge of what different charities accept. And it’s likely that some things will have to be disposed of or recycled.

Conducting estate sales and auctions cost money. Therefore, having enough to sell that generates more revenue than it costs to hold the sale is optimum. Consulting with a professional is recommended to determine if an estate sale or auction is indeed suitable for your situation.

What is my stuff worth? is a very difficult (if not impossible) question to answer. There are numerous factors that determine something’s current resale value. The “market value” or how desirable something is plays a large role in determining “worth.” Market value of personal property is a moving target, impacted by current trends, level of interest and geography. A good example of this is what something is sold for at auction. That all depends on who attends the auction, what the bidders are interested in and how much they’re willing to pay for the item.

Its widely known that most of the contents in our homes depreciates over time. There are exceptions, of course, like fine art and trending collectibles. But when considering furniture, household appliances and the like, don’t expect to sell them for more than you paid for them.

Having realistic expectations regarding the distribution or disposal of unwanted or needed items is paramount when planning to downsize. The ideal goal is to find a solution that provides a good outcome: disposal of un-needed items, meeting your deadline (if a consideration) and minimizing stress. There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution because every individual has a unique set of circumstances. Being well informed about your options and potential outcomes will help you determine the best fit for your situation.