The Pitfalls of Downsizing

Photo by Roger Schrenk
Even if a toy looks broken or scary... it could be bank!
Even if a toy looks broken or scary... it could be bank!

Written by Jon Fultz and Roger Schrenk

 

If you are considering downsizing or you’ve been given the challenge of handling the estate of a loved one, there are several steps you can take early to maximize the value of your items and minimize the time you spend digging through the attic. 

Even costume jewelry can hide a gem (Photo by: Roger Schrenk) Even costume jewelry can hide a gem

First, you need to accept the reality that most of the furniture and decorative items you bought 40 years ago retain only a tiny fraction of their original value. A good calculation is about 10% of what you paid unless you were clever enough to buy chic mid century pieces by the best designers. 

 

Second, be honest with yourself about what you REALLY need in your new space, or if you’re inheriting pieces, keep only what you will truly use. It is very unlikely you will ever need several full silver services or sets of china, and for heaven’s sake do you really need all of those wine glasses and coffee mugs? 

Your mother's china is worth more sold by the piece (Photo by: Roger Schrenk) Your mother's china is worth more sold by the piece

Third, this may sound counter to the minimalist push I just made, but DON’T START THROWING STUFF AWAY! We cannot tell you how many times we’ve been called into a home only to learn the family spent months filling dumpsters with all manner of historical collectibles. A good example is Kodak Slides that have a red border. Yes, slides—those tiny squares of family memories that were a staple to every post war family. Those curious slides were processed with a special mix of chemicals that make the as vibrant today as they were the day your grandfather took a picture of his new 1957 Chevy. Collectors and historians cherish those images for their vibrant accuracy, and many of them can fetch a nice sum if the subject is right. 

Kodachrome slides (Photo by: Roger Schrenk) Kodachrome slides

And lastly, if you don’t know exactly what your stuff is worth, ask! Any reputable estate sale firm or auction house will tell you with cold honesty if you’ve got trash or treasure. In the end you’ll be surprised which pieces achieve the highest price and which ones are duds, so let us know if we can help.

Trash isn't always the answer (Photo by: Roger Schrenk) Trash isn't always the answer