This is a detraction from my usual topics, but wanted to share my discovery of Facebook Marketplace this year. We downsized from roughly 2700sqft to 1600sqft with our first move in retirement. The move also involved driving 1,000 miles across country and the more stuff we could sell resulted in less truck space and fuel to move it.
In the past we’ve donated large quantities of stuff (and still did) and put stuff out at bulk trash for pickup, but that left some items in the middle. I didn’t want to mess around with a yard sale or deal with the headache of selling and shipping on eBay. Inevitably we would put stuff out with value on the curb before bulk trash pickup, but became frustrated when a neighbor would get it and sell it in his own yard sale. I was fine when the yard workers and housekeepers from the fancy houses around me would pickup the stuff, but it was irritating to see our stuff sold ten houses down by a neighbor!
We finally had more capacity and time with early retirement and decided it was time to explore how we could earn some money from selling our stuff.
Enter Facebook Marketplace.
I originally got frustrated with the interactions when I attempted to sell: Nextdoor was dead silence then Facebook marketplace started with a bunch of no-shows. Is this available? When can you pick it up? Nobody would commit to a time or flake out on a purchase. I finally asked my personal finance folks on twitter for some help and they delivered! Here is the most useful advice I received:
Recommendation #1: Porch Pickup. I had never heard of this term before but it was great for selling low-dollar items. We would have two copy-paste responses, basically telling someone if they’re interested, the item is available, here’s the address, and please leave the money in the mailbox. These items were low enough in cost to where we would be okay if they were stolen (nothing was stolen!)
Pick a “if its stolen” value and do Porch Pickup. I had never heard of the porch pickup trick and its a hassle to deal with individual people while selling $10 items. Early on $20 was my cutoff number for porch pickup. It had the added benefit of someone being able to inspect the item on the spot to decide if they wanted it or not.
Recommendation #2. “Sell to Everyone” – I’ve learned to have the same canned response. “Item is available, first come first serve.” This worked out well nine out of ten times. We realized in hindsight that if we severely under priced an item, then we have the risk of two people showing up at the same time. I had one angry person give me a negative review because she was five minutes late for some $10 set of CorningWare. Two contractors showed up at the same time for a old wheelbarrow and civilly flipped a coin and shook hands.
Lessons Learned From My Experiment:
List weekday mid-afternoon. People seem to get bored at work and want to do pickups later in the afternoon. If its a heavy item you may also get people with work trucks moving around the city. In the market I was selling into, we had more success listing on weekdays than weekends. We lived in-town and people liked picking up items on their way home from work. Anything that could be used in construction was really popular late afternoon.
Larger items requiring a time schedule: Sometimes you can’t put everything out on your porch. We had an old garage work bench and a chest freezer that didn’t work for porch pickup. I created a canned response that went along the lines of “Item is available, pickup is at this address. Please let me know when you can pickup. Will be held to the earliest committed time”. When they respond with a commitment, I let them know if they aren’t here by thirty minutes, I have to move to another buyer. I mark it pending and tell the other buyers “I have a 4pm pickup commitment, will let you know if they don’t show”.
You’ll be shocked at what does/doesn’t sell: There were items we questioned putting directly into bulk trash and were shocked when we listed and sold it quickly. Other items seemed useful and had no interest (here’s looking at you barely used carry-on luggage). Facebook Marketplace doesn’t charge anything for listing an item, so the best part was it was free to try! We were specifically surprised at how well five year old area rugs and hallways rugs sold. Furniture and small household appliances tended to move a lot slower than tools or cookware.
Money is better than no money: I had someone ask me what the return on my time was for doing this. It wasn’t too bad! My estimate is it took about eight hours in total to earn $300. This should be more efficient in the future now that I’ve sold a few items and understand the game.
One day’s haul
Big City > Smaller City: We had more success selling in Dallas, TX than we did in our current smaller city. The larger market and diverse demographics of the city meant items sold quicker. Our new location also has an older population with garages spilling over with stuff. Facebook included a nice translation feature for all of my Spanish speaking buyers.
Wishing I did this earlier: There were hundreds of dollars worth of items I just put on the curb that I could have listed/sold on Facebook marketplace. Once I saw how easy this was, it was painful to think of the lost money from the prior months. The worst was a perfectly good treadmill that we bought for $100 because I didn’t want the hassle of dealing with people to sell it.
This past week I *almost* grabbed some older tools a neighbor put out for bulk trash to list on marketplace. It was tempting but felt a little too much like work for this early retiree.
Wrapping Up: Facebook Marketplace was a great experience for us. Once we combined this with porch pickup and a few copy/paste responses for the normal questions, it became a fairly easy way to pickup extra money while not having to deal with headache of a yard sale. I highly recommend it if you’re ever looking to de-clutter.
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