Pre-Move Garage Sales

There are many benefits to conducting a sale before moving but you will need to ask yourself the following questions to be certain that this undertaking is for you.

  • Do you have the time it takes to organize a garage sale before your move?
  • Are your items worth selling and is there a market for what you have to offer?
  • Is your home's location conducive to a successful garage sale?
  • Will you have some help on the actual day of the sale?

A garage sale can make money, but can also save money by reducing the cost of moving and shipping your household items to your new location.

First steps

  1. Check to see if your homeowners association has rules about conducting a moving sale. Some communities do not allow sales of any type.

  2. Call your local village hall or municipal center and inquire if there are permit requirements.

  3. Find out if your homeowner's insurance covers liability for injuries a consumer might sustain while on your property.

  4. Consider a block sale. Ask neighbors if they are interested in joining in a sale. This will help keep you motivated, make it all more fun, and may increase the turnout.

  5. Check to see if your community has a website where you can post information about the moving sale.

  6. Before hanging signs, be certain your city or town allows you to do so.

  7. Try to round up some help for the day of the sale. It is difficult to conduct a sale on your own.

  8. Start saving shopping bags, plastic grocery bags and boxes.

Get organized

Let's start getting organized by deciding what you will sell.

  • If you have not used it in the last five years, you probably can live without it. Go ahead and sell it!
  • Make a list of all the items you want to sell.
  • Consider that it may be more expensive to move and ship certain, larger items than it is to just sell them for a minimal amount, particularly if you will not need the item at your new home.
  • Items like snow blowers are not necessary in some parts of the country; you may want to get rid of them now!
  • If you plan on moving and shipping items such as snow blowers (and lawn mowers), you must follow standard moving guidelines, such as purging fuel from the machine. The gas can you have used to refill the machine can't be transported, either, so you will need to purchase a new one. Is it really worth all the trouble moving that snow blower? Or can you sell it, make a few dollars and buy yourself a new lounge chair to use while basking in the sun in your new home -- where it does not snow?

What to sell

Listed below are items that seem to sell quite well in moving sales. Remember, what is junk to one is treasure to another. Use common sense. If the item is in decent shape and possibly useful, although somewhat unusual, give it a try. You may want to put a fairly low price tag on it to assist in selling it.

  • Appliances, large and small
  • Audio, visual, and photography equipment
  • Baby furniture, equipment, and toys: Be certain baby items are in proper working order. If there is any question about the integrity of the item, it is better to discard than to take the chance of causing injury to a child
  • Books
  • Bottles and jars
  • Canoeing and fishing equipment
  • All kitchen items
  • Records, CDs and videos
  • Furniture
  • Games, bikes, and toys
  • Garden tools
  • Lamps, mirrors, and pictures
  • Lawn and patio furniture
  • Musical instruments
  • Plants: Note: Most professional moving companies will not take your plants as part of the shipment.
  • Rugs and carpets
  • Sports and exercise equipment

Set the price!

Price items according to their worth to others, not their worth to you. A good way to do this is by asking a friend or family member (outside your immediate family) to assist you in pricing items for the moving sale. Someone who is not emotionally attached to the item is likely to set a more realistic price.

  • Charge about 20 percent of the original cost, if the item is in good working order or excellent condition.
  • Used clothing and books usually bring in a lower price.
  • Leave some room for bargaining when pricing your items.
  • Be sure to inform the buyer of the items you are selling that do not work. Let them know it is an "as is" price.
  • Secure a tag to each item and record prices on a sheet. This will assist you in keeping track of what you have sold and finding the price if the price tag should fall off.
  • A way to ensure that those undesirable items will sell before your move is to bundle them! Put one or two great items in with one or two not-as-great items and sell them as a lot.

Bring in the buyers

Treat your moving sale like a retail business. Merchandise your items in an appealing way. Think about the times you have gone into a store and were attracted to article of clothing because of the way it looked on the mannequin or accessories on a piece of furniture. Presentation matters, so put some thought into it.

  • Wash, iron, and neatly fold or hang all clothing.
  • Put like items together on the table or shelf.
  • Use signs to draw potential customer to certain sections of the sale.
  • If you are having a joint sale, mark your items with your own color tag, but keep similar items together.
  • Polish silver or brass.
  • Clean all glass and mirrors.
  • Basically, make items look appealing and they will sell.

Advertise cleverly and aggressively

  • Use signs, balloons, flags, and banners and get them high enough off the ground for people to see while driving.
  • Run ads in the neighborhood paper.
  • Put signs on billboards in neighborhood stores.
  • Distribute announcements.
  • Use a map on your street signs to help customers find your home.

Be safe

Garage sales attract honest buyers and the odd, dishonest person. Keep that in mind on the day of the sale. Here are some tips on safety.

  • Have two people present, if possible, in the sale area.
  • If you are able to do so, position all your items outside the garage and close the door. It is best that you do not allow people into your home.
  • Keep the money that you will use to make change with you at all times. A fanny pack or money belt works great for this.
  • Keep the doors to your residence locked.

Wow, you did it!

Congratulations! You completed a successful moving sale. If there are items left over, consider donating them to the Salvation Army or local charities.