No One Wants Any of Your Family’s Old Furniture: The Truth About Used Goods
Five years ago, I shared my blog, “No One Wants My Mother’s Dining Room Table.” Today, I am readdressing this issue with a twist: “No One Wants Any of Your Family’s Old Furniture.” Part of my responsibility as a Transition Counselor and Realtor is to assist seniors with the psychological readjustment as well as the physical move. Selling a home can make a senior feel vulnerable. Moving from larger residences to smaller condos, Life Care communities or the homes of their adult children is an emotional experience. Downscaling is especially difficult because it involves letting go of personal belongings that have taken on a meaning of their own. First, the client and their family must determine what will be taken along with them to the new residence. Then, they need to identify significant pieces to be given to relatives or friends. Finally, the family is left to decide what will happen to the remaining “stuff.” Some items have true resale value and can be assigned to a professional antique dealer or auctioneer. Often, sellers are not pleased with the commission charges, and the price received is below their expectations. Items leftover after the cherry-picking are usually outdated, worn out and of questionable worth. As I work on numerous transitions with my professional move teams, unloading these remaining pieces has become increasingly difficult. In the past, these items could be donated to a charity, sold on eBay or dropped at the local Goodwill. In the current age of COVID, these options are not feasible. Shoppers are very hesitant about using second-hand items. Wearing true vintage clothing or using ornate old dishes is not appealing. Additionally, pieces like armoires are only useful if they can hold modern-sized TVs. Donation centers do not want obsolete, non-marketable items, and are now requiring that each item be separately wrapped and boxed before they will be accepted. The result is that the cost of preparing a donation can be far greater than its monetary value. Sentimental owners can have a difficult time accepting this.
What is the solution? I do my best to educate my clients to the current reality. After sharing my concerns with all parties involved in the move-out, I provide options and allow time for them to explore their choices. After exhausting available channels for selling or donating these remaining goods, I encourage them to put it behind them and focus on the wellbeing of the senior involved. At this juncture, I bring in a clean-out crew and prepare the property for sale on the Multiple Listing Service. Time and energy can then shift to the important task of selling the home and moving forward.