In another post, I talked about downsizing while you or your parents are still able. As baby boomer’s parents (and boomers themselves) start to downsize, the question becomes what to do with all the furniture that has to go? Can you get any money by selling those furnishings?
The realistic answer is that many of the furnishings of baby boomers (and their parents) are not what the next generation is interested in. There is so much mass-produced furniture from the 1960’s that it doesn’t have much value currently. Naturally there are exceptions to this. There are a lot of collectors who are interested in more unique items. But the supply of typical items like end-tables, chairs, bed-frames and dressers is high right now, with very little demand. Other household items such as china, crystal, and generic artwork have little resale value.
Sometimes You Cannot Even Give Them Away
As an example, before Covid my wife and I would frequent a local auction that sells a good deal of “house contents” – typically the type of thing you might see along the road at garage sales. Even though they often would auction furniture from bedrooms, dining rooms, living rooms and dens, there would often be weeks where they could not even get a $5 bid on gently-used furniture. Even if it doesn’t have any marks on it, hardwood pieces would often go for only $25-$50.
The issue is that adult children don’t want any of these. They are more interested in minimalist furnishings from an Ikea or Target and spending money on experiences rather than on things around the house or apartment. Consider how popular the Marie Kondo style of organizing has become.
What Can I Do With All These Furnishings?
What should you do if you are in this situation?
First, take advantage of time (if you have it) and start to downsize. Members of organizations such as the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM) or the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) can be hired to help with the downsizing process. Locally, a NASMM member such as Brandywine Senior Transitions can manage the task, bringing in other companies such as movers, auctioneers, or appraisers to assist as needed.
Second, if you really don’t want to go through it but just want it gone, check with local auction houses (around the PA/DE/MD area: Coates Auction, Briggs Auction, and Hills Auction) who will auction it off and may be able to get something for the items.
The bottom line is, enjoy it while you have it, but don’t expect it to make you or your descendants rich when it comes time to sell the contents of your home.