When you first receive a piece of second hand furniture to sell, there are several things you must look at in order to set your price for the piece. If you price your item too high, you won't sell it. If you price it too low, any serious buyers will consider it not worth their trouble to buy it. The steps here are necessary to ensure proper pricing --- the point is, you want your price to lead to a sale.
Look at the overall appearance of the furniture. Look for cracks, breaks and damage to the basic construction of the furniture. If you find any, you will need to estimate repair time and costs before selling the furniture. If there is no physical damage, continue to the next step.
Look closer at the colour and texture of the furniture. Does it appear uneven? Has it been repainted or repaired? Is the repair or paint of good quality or will it need to be refinished? Is the furniture tarnished by stains or discolouration? If so, you will need to identify the stain and then remove it with the proper cleaner. Again --- estimate time and cost if this is the case. If there is no sign of tarnish, continue to the next step.
Look at the age. Knowing the period or decade that the furniture came from will help you determine its value. Some furnishings from certain periods of time are worth more than other pieces. You can tell the age by the darkness of the wood and by the weight. Generally, the darker the natural wood, the older the piece. Heavier woods were used before the switch to lighter material. Also check for pressboard and imitation wood. Reproduction furniture is not made of the same material as the originals, so they are less valuable --- price them well below the originals.
Look at the historical time line. Victorian era furnishings have a different value than post-World War II styles. Depression era furnishings also have a separate value. Knowing your history will help determine the age of the furniture. Establishing the historical time of the furniture will help you research its worth, and then help you price the furniture accordingly. After you have found the age of the furniture, proceed to the next step.
Know your customers. If you are selling to middle class or lower-middle class customers, you will need to price furniture within a different range than if your customers are upper class or antiques collectors. Also know what people who live in your area can afford. Know what other furniture dealers are selling similar pieces for. Shop the Salvation Army or Goodwill to check on their pricing. This will give you a rough ballpark number to use as your price.
Move your furniture quickly to keep inventory flowing. To do this, mark up your furniture with at least a 50% markup in the beginning. After a set number of days, reduce the price by 10%. Continue reducing the price by 10% over the course of a month. By this time, the furniture should be sold for at least the amount you paid for it. If it hasn't sold, proceed to the next step.
Take the furniture to an auction and have it sold. Make sure you keep your base price as the sale amount for the auction, plus the auctioneer's commission. This way you still recover your original cost and can add fresh stock to your inventory.
Things you need
- Knowledge of history
- Knowledge of furniture
- Knowledge of your market