How to determine a fair price for used furniture?
May 17, 2019 7:16 AM   Subscribe

I have a quantity of good quality, nearly-new furniture which an acquaintance would like to buy. Said acquaintance has told me ‘name your price’ for the lot of it. As I know the purchase price of these items, is there some sort of accepted calculation in existence for the valuation of such things?

My mother passed away last year and I have been dealing with her estate. The property has been sold, and I know someone who has looked at pretty much all the furniture in the house and said, ‘I’ll take it’. He seems fine with accepting whatever price I ask.

Many of the pieces are less than two years old, and for most I have records of the original purchase price. I’m aware that furniture is one of the things people tend to over-value when selling, but much of the advice I’ve got, e.g. ‘put a $50 price tag on it and hopefully someone takes it off your hands’ seems a bit low for items that were over $1000 and are in near-perfect condition.

The best calculation I’ve found so far is the cost-to-retail markup — 2.5-2.75%. So the piece that was purchased at, say, $1499 would sell for $545 (as a starting point which assumes no damage and minimal wear; lowering accordingly for defects). But I don’t know if that is still overvaluing, or if there’s a better metric out there for determining an asking price.

The buyer seems pretty blasé about it, TBH; I get the sense he sees getting a houseful of quality pieces for less-than-retail is a lucky windfall. He was also acquainted with my mum and we’ve become friendly over the time I’ve been back here handling the mopping up and I get the sense he’s happy to help me out by taking it all off my hands — hence the ‘name your price’ comment rather than starting a discussion or negotiation. So I’d like to find a middle ground that recognises the value without being unrealistic.

(Actual calculations preferred. I would like to have a hard basis of 'this is how I came up with these figures' when I quote a price, both to show that the numbers aren't arbitrary and to have a starting point to move from if the price isn't accepted.)
posted by myotahapea to Work & Money (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This looks like a good website where you can just put in the price, age, and condition and it spits out a value. Tbh I think you're undervaluing, as it seems like one person using a house full of furniture would render the pieces in "like new" condition - unless you're not mentioning something like she had 10 cats or part-time grandchildren in residence or whatnot.
posted by DoubleLune at 7:31 AM on May 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

There's an advantage (and it is a big one) to being able to get rid of all of it at once, in a single sale. I'd ask 50% and be happy with that.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:14 AM on May 17, 2019 [3 favorites]

I typically start at a third to a quarter the cost of new. Even if the condition is perfect, retail provides much larger selection and higher convenience as far as delivery. Maybe a very durable or antique/vintage item would hold its value better, but secondhard furniture is basically a yard sale.
posted by wnissen at 10:25 AM on May 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

The question you need to ask yourself is: Do I want to keep any of this furniture, or do I just want it all gone and out of my hair?

When I had to clear-out my own mother's stuff, my attitude was to price it to sell quickly. You, personally, will not be out any money no matter how low you price it. 50% sounds fine. But, if they come back offering 40%, that should be just fine, too. Just remember, the point is to get the furniture gone, not haggle for hours over what, at the end of the day, is going to be pure profit for you no matter how low you sell.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:45 AM on May 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

From looking and buying on Craigslist, the rule of thumb seems to be 50 percent of retail for stuff that is from a name-brand store (Pottery Barn, etc.) and new or close-to-new condition. That percentage might be higher for more expensive/collectible stuff, such as a $5000 chair from Design Within Reach. For the convenience of selling it all at once, and if you're pretty confident he won't haggle, I'd go with 40 percent of retail. If you think this might be a bargaining point, start with 50 percent.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 10:46 AM on May 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

I shop used via CL often. I agree that 50% of new for a relatively new, unblemished item is fair, both for you and the buyer.

Hopefully it goes without saying that the buyer arranges all removal / moving of the items. You might help load things into a truck if you're feeling generous, but your obligation should not extend beyond that. You also should not be storing things until *undetermined time in the future*.
posted by vignettist at 4:25 PM on May 17, 2019

I'd ask @25% of what you think the cost was. And be prepared to accept less. I see a lot of used furniture on Craigslist for quite low prices. People are wary of upholstered furniture because of bedbugs. You're saving a ton of time and effort.
posted by theora55 at 7:23 PM on May 17, 2019

In my experience unless it’s nice enough that it could go to a consignment or antique store used furniture gets a huge, huge markdown. 20% to 30% is reasonable, used furniture buyers would probably give you less.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:14 PM on May 17, 2019

Agree that 50% is the maximum you could hope to get for used furniture, due to the hassle factor of buying used. For large, expensive soft furnishings, it's even less, because there are few people who want to buy it. People who want expensive furniture, buy new.

If you can get 25%, you'll have done well.
posted by kjs4 at 6:55 PM on May 19, 2019

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