Selling and trading your things online

Check out this CHOICE guide to selling, giving or swapping.
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01.Sell it

Laptop screen with eBay in the background

That foot spa your aunt gave you is still languishing in the corner of the bathroom, yet to be used. The fondue set that seemed like a great idea at the time has joined the popcorn machine in the furthest recesses of the kitchen cabinet. And that beautiful but ill-fitting jacket you bought is at the back of the closet. You don’t want to send them to landfill, yet you can't return or re-gift them. So what can you do?

There's a myriad of options available, and you can either cash in on your old stuff by selling it on a site like eBay or Gumtree, among others, or do a good deed and share it or give it away using a service such as TuShareFreecycle or Ziilch. Read on to find out which option is right for you.

Auction it

Auctioning stuff online is an easy way of de-cluttering your home, and one of the Australia’s largest marketplaces is just a click away.

While eBay is known by many as an auction site, in reality the company has repositioned itself as something of an online department store. According to eBay, most of the items sold there these days are brand-new and sold at a fixed price. But eBay still has a huge audience to offer those who seek to sell their unwanted things online.

Jenny Thomas, an eBay spokesperson, says there are several things a seller can do to maximise their end price. “If there’s one thing I’d recommend it’s to put as much written content in your listing as possible,” she says.

“If you’re selling something second-hand with bumps or scratches, make sure you call that out. People are more likely to bid if you’ve taken the time to put that detail in.

“And if you’re selling something where looks are important, take photos of the item, the label, any marks or scratches. If you’re selling electronics, take photos of the back of the item, including the stickers with product information and the barcode."

eBay expertise

Best day and time for an auction to end Sunday evening, about 8pm, when according to Thomas, “people are at home, relaxing, and on the internet surfing”.

Best starting price In many cases, 99c. “If you’re not sure about the value of an item, start it as low as possible,” says Thomas. “It encourages people to get involved in your auction. People see it as an opportunity to get a real bargain. And you might find people get so caught up in the auction, you get a better price. If you start it too high they can be put off.”

Ideal auction length Seven days. “One week ensures people stay excited over a shorter period of time,” says Thomas. “Less than that and you don’t get two weekends; longer and people might get bored. That said, 10 days is great for items that need to be inspected before purchase, such as a car or motorbike.”

Cost of an auction It’s free to list up to 30 items in one month. If an item sells, the seller pays eBay 7.9% of the final value, with a cap of $49.95. Some items, such as cars, come under a different pricing structure.

It's classified

If you’re more interested in a fixed price than an auction and would rather avoid paying commission, try a classifieds service.

If your item sells, you pocket the full amount.

No longer available on paper, the Trading Post is still kicking on. Listing most items for sale under $500 is free, with charges ranging up to about $20 for more expensive goods. But if you’d prefer do business in print, list your items in your local paper’s classifieds section.

Getting offline

You can always join in at your local flea market or swap meet. If you’re not averse to paying a commission, you can also contact an auction house near you. But if you settle on the classic garage sale, make sure to contact your local council to find out if they have any rules or regulations. There may be restrictions on signage for advertising the sale, and issues with taking up public footpath space.



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