How to Host an Online, Pre-Move Garage Sale

Trash it? Donate it? Give it to a friend? When it comes to the accumulated stuff we’d rather part ways with, there are plenty of ways to get the job done. While trashing or donating are two routes for a quick declutter, there’s nothing quite like seeing the dollar signs rack up when you host your own garage sale. 


Traditionally, garage sales were known for their Saturday morning neighborhood signs, driveways full of clothes, unique furniture, and questionable kitchen appliances, never mind haggling with neighbors for a dollar off the sticker price. Now, with the age of Facebook Marketplace, Let Go, and good, old fashioned Craigslist, it’s never been easier to host a sale from your living room. Best of all, you can still score cash i for moving expenses or that West Elm sofa you promised yourself once you settle into your new digs. 

Forget relying on nosy neighbors to show and the sun to shine by taking your garage sale digital. You might just be surprised at how many people in your area are interested in that lamp you impulse-bought last season. 

But before you kick your feet up and click publish your pile of unwanted goods, there are a few things to be aware of prior to your listing going live.


How a Digital Garage Sale Works

When it comes to listing an item on a digital platform like Facebook Marketplace, getting the item listed is pretty easy. 

  1. Grab your goods and photograph them. Avoid including  personal information in the background of your images, like an address that would indicate your home location (or, frankly, your home at all). It should never include images of your kids, pets or clutter that would make your item less desirable.
  2. Decide on a price.
  3. Upload your photograph; add a brief description; include your location; and include any other important information.
  4. Publish your listing, which will then be public for anyone searching in your area to see. 

As buyers view your item, you’ll start to receive messages about pickup soon. But be wary — there are plenty of people on digital marketplaces who will express interest and never follow through. Common courtesy within digital marketplace is to ask the seller to hold the item for 12 hours for each buyer who expresses interest. However, if you’re looking to move the fast, position it that way in your listing (more on that below).

When you do get a serious buyer, coordinate the time, place and price via messenger, text or your preferred method of communication. Then, on sale day, follow up with your buyer an hour before arrival to confirm. Once you sell your goods, it’s time to celebrate!

You’re the Seller and You Set the Rules

There’s nothing wrong with buyers asking for a deal, a bundle on multiple items, or for a different pick up location than you’d requested. But remember, this is your sale and you make the rules. 

It’s no surprise that in a digital marketplace, many buyers will flake at the last second, so you can protect your time and energy along the way with these few simple steps:

  • Get Organized - While you won’t be hauling things back and forth between your driveway, there’s still some organization that goes into running a successful digital sale. Keep the items you’re selling in totes or in a separate room of your house, especially if you have a lot of goods to get rid of and need to keep a good inventory of what’s still available. In the case of brand name or high-quality items, hundreds of messages may hit your inbox. This is why organization is key to a successful and stress-free sale.
  • Stay Safe - Selling anything on a digital platform means you’re almost guaranteed to run into scammers. Keep your meeting spots safe; spots like a community center, grocery store lot or a designated “Safe Space” at your local police or fire station works best. Bring a friend when you go to drop the item off, and stick to your strict rules for payment. Consider adding a note in your description outlining how you want to be paid and where you want to meet, and double-check with any potential buyers that they agree prior to meeting up. Don’t ever give out personal information like addresses, bank information or agree to meet at someone’s house (unless it’s a large item and you can bring a friend). 
  • Beware of Dropout Buyers - Keep your eyes out for asks like, “Can I get back to you?”; or “I’m not sure if I can afford it, but I’ll let you know”; and “Let me think about it.” Remind buyers that your sale is first come, first served. Follow up with a buyer who agrees to meet up before driving anywhere to ensure they’re going to show up, and exchange details of your vehicle type so that you can know when they’ve arrived for a speedy, safe transaction. 
  • Establish Payment - Make sure that you outline how you want to manage payment. Cash is great, but you may end up with buyers who don’t bring the right amount, don’t have change or try to barter on the spot. Venmo or Cash App sales allow you to collect payment before ever leaving your vehicle, as well as giving you a paper trail of your earnings. Remember, a solid buyer generally won’t have a problem meeting in a safe space, while making the transaction easy. 

The Lingo of Marketplace Sales

You’ve got the goods. Now, you just need the know-how. We’re here with a helpful glossary of marketplace terminology that will help you on your way to digital garage sale success. You’ll find these terms most commonly in the description of items, or in your personal communication between buyers and sellers.

PPU - Pending Pick Up

Use this term when a buyer has not only expressed interest, but also has established a meeting place and agreed-on payment. This allows other buyers to “get in line” in case your first buyer falls through. 

ISO - In Search Of

Beware of this phrase - it means someone is looking for the item, not selling one. So, before you think you’ve scored an Ikea dining room set for next to nothing, make sure you’re not responding to someone’s plea for discounted furniture. 

PM - Private Message

When a buyer requests information or shows interest, it can be wise to send a PM. Instead of commenting on posts, which can get lost or buried, go ahead and send a direct message to get in line or purchase on the spot. 

OBO - Or Best Offer

Score! When you see an OBO product, feel free to make a reasonable offer lower than the buying price. This item is ready to sell and the seller is flexible. 

LOMS - Listed On Multiple Sites

Get in line, as this item is listed on multiple pages, websites or groups. If it’s a great deal, jump quickly on contacting the seller before someone else snatches it up.

FCFS - First Come First Served or NH - No Holds

Your key to a quick sale, drop this abbreviation into your description to let buyers know that you’re not holding items and that you’ll move on to the next buyer within an established time frame.

In need of more moving tips? Ones to help you organize or settle into your new home? We have you covered on our blog.

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