How to Have a Safe & Profitable Yard Sale

Written by April Weismann on 05/30/2018 05:46 PM in Homeowners Insurance,. Safety Tips,. Personal Insurance.

Yard Sale TipsA yard sale sounds like a great idea.  You can get rid of clutter, “go green” and make a little money.  But before you start hanging signs throughout the neighborhood, be prepared.  There are several issues that you should consider to ensure your sale runs smoothly and without regret.

What to Do to Have a Safe and Profitable Yard Sale

What should you sell at a yard sale?

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, so you just never know what someone will buy.  Great items to sell this time of year are small appliances, furniture and tableware as recent graduates may be looking to furnish their dorms or apartments.  Other great items are safe children’s toys or clothes, books or un-used sporting equipment.

Is there anything you shouldn't sell at a yard sale?

You should be very cautious about selling anything that relates to small children and their safety. Like car seats or helmets, etc.  Safety standards are always being updated so you would never want to sell an old car seat that, unbeknownst to you, was recalled a few years ago.

Many charitable organizations can not accept such items as they fear a lawsuit if they sold something to someone that turned out to be dangerous.  That is a flag that you should be wary of as well, because you just never know.

You should also be cautious about selling electronic/computer devices that have any personal information on it. The data alone could be worth a small fortune to a criminal, so be sure that the hard drive is removed or all sensitve data is erased.

When should you hold your yard sale?

Weedends are obviously best, with Saturdays typically better than Sundays. You need to be set-up and ready to go by 8:00 am as this is when the real bargain hunters are out. The mentality is that the early bird gets the worm and the serious shoppers want those worms.

Also be sure that you post specific hours for your yard sale. You don’t want people showing up at 6:00 am while you are in your pajamas, or at 6:00 pm  while eating your dinner.

Yard Sale tips

How should you price your items?

If your sale items are between your potential buyer and the dump, price low. If it will cost you money to get rid of an item, like an air conditioner or television, price the item well below market value. If you have no idea, do a little research on E-Bay or Craig’s List.

If your intent is to make a little money and you have quality items, start out at around 10% of what an item would cost new and be prepared to bargain down.

If you really want to move items, try bundling items together or slash your prices for the last few hours.

If you have antiques, get appraisals before you sell. You would hate to be watching The Antique Roadshow and see an item you sold for $10 valued at $10,000.

What about safety?

  • Make sure items are displayed on stable tables
  • Make sure there is no clutter on the ground or tripping hazards
  • Do not sell anything exceptionally dangerous like guns, swords, chemicals, etc.
  • Keep all sharp items out of reach of children
  • Keep pets inside at all times
  • If the weather is hot, have water available

Will homeowners insurance cover a yard sale?

Most homeowners insurance policies will most likely cover the liability from a yard sale if a one-time event. If you have “regular” yard sales that can be a problem. Most homeowner insurance policies specifically exclude any personal liability and medical payments to others in connection with a business engaged in by an insured. 

As it would be up to the insurance company to determine if you your yard sale was actually a  business, I would strongly suggest that you call your insurance agent or company to confirm you would have coverage.  Yard sales are a gray area of your insurance and subject to interprutation.  Don’t wait until after a claim for the interpuration as you could find yourself with an un-covered claim.  If someone claims they trip and fall on your property while at your yard sale, you will want to be sure that you have the coverage to investigage, defend and pay the claim if necessary.

Another consideration in regards to your homeowners insuarnce is if you sell the goods owned by other people or if your make any items yourself (including food items).  These activities can be deemed a business, in which you may need additional insurance.

Final Yard Sale Thoughts – 

A yard sale can be fun, profitable and a great way to meet people, but it is work.

If it all seems like a lot of risk for the return, consider donating your items to Goodwill or another local charity. Your tax write-off may be worth what you would have gained at your yard sale.  Good luck!

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