Declutter? BBB offers tips for selling your second-hand items online

The start of a new year is a great time to clean your home and organize your living spaces. But what should you do with any lightly worn clothing, furniture, household items, or electronics that you no longer use? Fortunately, online marketplaces make it easy to sell without even leaving your home.

That said, there are some dangers in selling used items online. To avoid dangers and make your sales successful, BBB recommends the following tips.

Choose an appropriate platform. Nerdwallet recommends before you sell any products online to earn extra money, determine the ideal location for your merchandise. There are dozens of online marketplaces to choose from, but many of them focus on a specific type of second-hand product, such as electronics or branded clothing. Before creating a marketplace account, make sure it is suitable for the type of products you want to sell and check with BBB to verify that there haven’t been a number of issues reported. .

Know the value of your items and the price appropriately. To determine the value of an item you want to sell, Consumer Reports suggests looking for similar items on the site where you plan to list. On auction sites, look at the sales made and pay attention to the sale price rather than the minimum bid price. If you are selling an item that has never been used and is still in the original packaging, keep in mind that technically it still gets to the used buyer, so you will need to charge a little less than the original retail value if desired. to make a sale.

Get reviews for high value items. If you sell precious metal or gemstone jewelry, get an official appraisal before listing or selling the items. Keep in mind that jewelers may give you a lower quote because they intend to make a profit on a resale. If you are in possession of expensive items, such as antiques or works of art, consider obtaining a written opinion of the item’s value from a professional appraiser. This will give you a better idea of ​​the price you need to charge and the amount of insurance you need to cover the sale. You can find reputable reviewers on

Make a quality list. Without a good list, you cannot sell your item. NBC News advises that you be careful about the photos you take of an article. Make sure the pictures are clear and accurately show the item’s color, shape, and other key details. You’ll also want to include specific measurements and detailed written descriptions that notify buyers of any flaws the item may have, however small. Make it clear that the price you set takes faults into account. Finally, use search engine words in your item description that accurately describe the item, its aesthetics, and use to attract buyers who are actively researching what you are selling.

Prepare the items for sale. Before packing your item for shipping, clean it thoroughly. If you plan to sell multiple items online and want to retain buyers, put some love in your packaging as well. Wrapping the item in tissue paper and including a thank you note can go a long way in creating a loyal customer.

Understand the fees. Each online marketplace has its own set of fees, which can vary widely from platform to platform. Before signing up, take the time to read the fine print and understand whether you will be paying a percentage of your sale, a flat rate, or both, and how the fees are collected. Plus, find out how many sales each platform allows you to make each month.

Consider exchanging or donating used items. If you decide not to sell an item, consider donating it or giving it to someone who needs it. Several online sites allow you to give items away for free to someone in need, lend and borrow items from other members of your community, and even trade items instead of selling them for. money. You can check out a list of ways to redeem used items from the nonprofit Green America.

Beware of shady buyers. Scammers often pose as buyers of scams. Sometimes they will offer to pay too much for an item, but that’s not their only tactic. Beware of buyers who ask you to transact outside of the sales platform or those who ask you for personal information, such as your banking information.

Be very careful when making local sales. Some platforms allow you to meet people in your area to exchange your item for cash in person. While this can be an effective way to sell big items and avoid market fees, be careful when meeting strangers. Don’t rush to give them your home address, instead ask buyers to meet you in a safe location, such as outside of your local police department. Never meet a buyer you don’t know on your own. Always bring your partner or a friend to complete the transaction.

Always protect your personal information. When you sell items online, keep your sensitive personal information locked up. Avoid communicating with buyers outside of the online platform you are using to complete the sale, and do not give out your home address, phone number, or email address.

For more information, check out BBB’s New Years Guide. Check out the companies on or call your BBB at 423-266-6144. Visit BBB Scam Tracker to find and report scams.

Michele Mason is president of the Better Business Bureau of Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia.

Staff Photo of Troy Stolt / Chattanooga Better Business Bureau President Michele Mason poses for a portrait on Monday, June 14, 2021 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

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