How do I know how much my stuff is worth?

By Anastasia Andrzejewski

So, you’ve cleaned out your closets, searched the basement or garage, or hit a local thrift store. However you’ve done it, you’ve found some treasures. Now what? Well, now it is time to find out how much your stuff is worth.  But, how?

There are five places I suggest you visit to get an idea of what your treasure is worth:

  1. an ebay search using keywords to describe your item in CURRENT/ACTIVE listings
  2. an ebay search using keywords to describe your item in SOLD listings
  4. etsy
  5. your local jewelry store/pawn shop

So you can see what I mean, I’ll guide you on a real-life search for an item I recently acquired at one of my favorite brick & mortar auctions and will re-sell on ebay in my store, George’s Toy Chest.

Here’s the item:

Complete Living Room Set by Built-Rite Toy Furniture for Built-Rite and Play Time Doll Houses

Complete Living Room Set by Built-Rite Toy Furniture for Built-Rite and Play Time Doll Houses

First, go to ebay and do a search for your item–you may need to refine your search terms a bit before you get results that accurately reflect your item.

Search your item in ebay. You might need to refine your search terms so that you get accurate results.

In my case, there aren’t any exact or terribly close matches.

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But, I still got some information from this search: there are not a glut of my product on the market. To me, this indicates that this item is somewhat rare, or at least not readily available. Yay! I can maybe ask a bit more for it!

Next, I’ll check if there are any sold listings for my search terms. To refine my search results for sold items only, I scroll down my page a little bit and check the box next to “sold listings” on the “Show Only” header on the left side of the page.

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Voila! Here I find some information about what people actually paid for similar items and I also see that my same exact item and similar condition sold for $58.25 (including shipping) on January 8, 2014.

Next, I’ll check which aggregates historical pricing information for the last several years from 350 data sources including ebay. This is important because search results on ebay only go back for the last three months. To search Worthpoint, you need to have a paid for subscription. However, I believe you can get a free trial subscription.

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My search on Worthpoint also gives me valuable information: one boxed set sold on ebay in 2013 for $34 (I think this buyer got a bargain); an unboxed and assembled set went for $32.20 on ebay in 2011 (so my mint condition in box should go for more than that); and a boxed set similar in type and condition to the one I have sold on ebay in 2013 for $51. This gives me a confirmation that the latest sold price on ebay–the one that sold for $58.25 on January 8, 2014–is probably a reasonable asking price.

Now, I’ll check one more site: etsy. I searched for “Built-Rite doll house” and “Built-Rite furniture”–both searches turned up nada.  Another indication that there are a not a glut of these toy sets on the market.  Again, I’m taking this as good news in terms of what I can and should ask.

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So, this quick search, which took me no more than 10 minutes, gave me a good idea of how to price my item. I’m going to list my item with $69.99 buy it now price on ebay. I also offer “best offer” and sometimes have sales, so this pricing gives me a little wiggle room. If someone is willing to pay me $69.99, great…I’ll take it! If I get an offer for $55 or so, I’ll probably accept it.

Either way, I’ll make money and know that I’ve gotten a fair price for my item. And, the buyer is willing to pay what they are willing to pay–I’m assuming that they will be pleased with their purchase whether they pay $69.99, $55, or something in between.

Oh, and before I forget–let me explain my recommendation regarding taking an item to a jeweler or a pawn shop. This is a particularly useful method should you find jewelry or silverware or gemstones you don’t know much about. You can take it to a jeweler or a pawn shop and:

  1. find out if the metal and/or stone is “real” and if it is what the quality is of the metal or stone
  2. get a low-ball value (whatever they offer you is going to be only a fraction of the actual price, but it is a good starting point for figuring out your item’s value)

You might decide that it is easier and more cost effective to sell the item to the jeweler or pawn shop, particularly if you’ve come to the conclusion it is scrap metal, and that the ebay and PayPal fees and shipping costs will offset any profit.  And, if you don’t decide to sell it, you will probably leave with more information than you came with regarding the value.

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