The chicks have flown ... the nest is empty ... and cleaning 3500 square feet of home is driving you crazy!  Does that sound familiar?  As a baby boomer, I'd reached that stage in my life when I no longer needed a 4-bedroom home ... and all the active “maintenance” that a house of such size demanded.  So, what was the answer?  To down-size, of course.

However, down-sizing, after years of living in a relatively large space (with a basement), is easier said than done.  I soon realized that it didn't simply mean finding a smaller home - that was the easy part.  The hard part was to decide how to dispose of all the “stuff” that one accumulates over the years ... and the furniture from all those empty bedrooms and other areas of the house.

There are many ways to get “rid” of things, but if you'd like to recoup some of the value of your items (you have a new place to decorate, after all), you might like to try your hand at selling them on the Web, using the free advertising sites, www.craigslist.organd

This can be an interesting and rewarding (although sometimes frustrating) experience, but here are some tips that will keep you organized, help your ads stand out, and get your items sold:

  1. Register for an Account - both Craigslist and Kijiji allow you to sign up for an account.  Once you've signed up, all the ads you post will be listed under your account, allowing you to more easily manage them.  The account areas of both sites allow you to easily update your ads and delete them when the item has been sold.
  2. Know Your Product - before you post an ad, do some research.  Search Craigslist and Kijiji to see if a similar item is already listed for sale.  How much is it listed for?  What is its condition?  Searches on Google may reveal other sources for sales info, allowing you to set a reasonable price for your item.
  3. Take Good Photos - would you travel across the city to buy a second-hand desk, sight unseen?  Probably not.  In the case of selling second-hand goods on the Web, a picture is worth a thousand words ... not only can you see the look/design of an item, you can get some idea of its condition.  That's why taking good photos, from several different angles, and posting them in the ad, will get you better results.  If possible, take the photos with a proper digital camera, in good lighting conditions.
  4. Be Prepared to Take Less - pricing used goods is difficult, especially used goods that have family memories attached.  Try to price your item according to the current market for similar ones (see point 2 above), but be prepared to take a bit less.  The folks who respond to ads on Craigslist and Kijiji are looking for bargains, and many will ask if you'll take some lesser amount than you have advertised.  Here, you'll have to use your own judgement ... if your ad is generating a lot of “action,” you may wish to hold out for your price.  However, if your item is not in demand, the first offer may be your best offer.
  5. Cash is King - in order to protect yourself from scams, only accept cash as payment, from local folks who come pick up the item in person.  Never send any personal information to anyone, who says that they wish to purchase your item and will be mailing you a cheque.
  6. Patience is a Virtue - you will inevitably get inquiries asking if your item is “still available,” to which you will eagerly reply “yes,” only to get no further response.  Don't worry.  After surveying a number of Craigslist and Kijiji ad posters, this appears to be a regular occurrence.  It's exciting when you think you may have a customer for your item, only to “crash” when they never contact you again.  You just have to chalk it up as a “I'm just looking” response, as if you were in a retail environment.  Your item will sell - just be patient.
  7. The Things People will Buy - it's impossible to predict what someone will buy.  I've sold everything, from leftover bricks from a renovation project, to a 20-year-old TV stand, to an old 2-burner cooktop.  I've also sold a beautiful armoire, country-French dining room chairs and framed antique prints.  So, if you think an item will have some value to someone, post it!  Posting is free, and you have nothing to lose.  Who knows, you may have just the item a person has been searching for!

For more tips on down-sizing and assistance with your Toronto real estate needs, contact me, Helene Kerr (Sales Representative) of Johnston & Daniel Division, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Inc.  Just call 416-489-2121, and ask for Helene; or email me at


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