While it is one thing to get a home (whether renting or buying) the fun really starts when trying to kit it out. Many moons ago when we first married Stuart and I lived in Geneva. That flat was unfurnished and Stuart’s taste in decor at that time was chintz sofas and Ikea pine shelves. Over time we upgraded our furniture but after some years we took the decision to move to Scotland to be nearer family and all the heavy stuff had to be left behind. We turned to Gumtree to sell items with with varied success.
We moved to Edinburgh without jobs, a home or transport – never mind furniture. When searching for a rental place we wanted an unfurnished home as it would give us time to gather furniture we liked before we eventually were able to buy a home (and we didn’t want to pay money to a landlord to rent second hand furniture!). Since we knew we were settling in Scotland we wanted ‘forever furniture’ or at least more grown up pieces. Naturally we turned to Gumtree where we found pieces like this gliding chair for £20 (including delivery to our front door):
We even picked up a kitten for Stuart’s Mum from Gumtree (that’s Sidi in the gliding chair) . Earlier this year were telling her about buying a second hand Laura Ashley sofa and she said “did you go up the Gumtree?”. Ever since, around our way, selling or buying items on Gumtree has been referred to as ‘going up the Gumtree’.
So here are our do’s and don’ts for going up the Gumtree:
Is there a market?: There is a there is a buyer for everything out there; this is the core idea behind Gumtree. It doesn’t cost you anything to post an ad (unless you pay for fancy extras like promoting it or having it highlighted in the list) so if you have something that you are not using- post an ad up the Gumtree to see if anyone else will take it off your hands for cash.
Be reasonable: While everything will sell is the basic principle of Gumtree you need to remember that your items need to be priced reasonably. People are looking for second hand items and are having to haul them around. Listing second hand items for close to their original retail price is a sure fire way to ensure you don’t sell anything. We have had some good success at selling items at 60-70% of their retail value like our daybed below but often most things are sold for 30-40% of their original retail price:
Purpose: think about your reason for selling. If you need to get rid of an item quickly to make room for a new piece of furniture then price it low to sell and make it clear in the advert that you need to sell it by a particular date. If you know that you have a reasonably valuable item on your hands but are happy to wait for the right price, if it doesn’t sell within a week or so you can easily remove the listing and advert it at another time to keep the sale price high.
Timing: The timing of your advert matters. You will get better prices for garden furniture at the first sign of spring rather than a week before Christmas. Also as your listings are added to Gumtree soon after you post them try to post around 5pm when people are coming home at the end of the day and your listing is pretty high in the rankings. If it hasn’t sold after a week or so re-photograph the item, improve the listing details and post a new ad so it moves to the top of the pile.
Be wise: If something it sounds too good to be true it generally is. Recently someone we know was looking to buy a high-end child’s pushchair on Gumtree. The seller was listing the item £100s cheaper than other poster; he wanted to post the item (sight unseen) but refused to use eBay or Paypal to ensure the buyer had payment protection. Needless to say their cash stayed firmly in their pocket.
Tailor your searches: you may be looking for a side board but we’ve seen them listed as ‘buffets’, ‘dining furniture’ and ‘side tables’. Make sure to search for other names or in sections like ‘dining furniture’ to cast your net as wide as possible.
Negotiate: Gumtree is different to a high street shop and the prices aren’t fixed. Feel free to counter offer (within reason). The point isn’t to annoy the seller with a ridiculous price but if the item is overpriced then feel free to link to similar items to show them the market value.
Be clear: let the person know that you are want to buy the item, when you are available to view it and buy it (if it meets your needs). Gather as much information as you can from the advert and pictures – buyers of good items will get lots of emails so make sure you are clear, to the point and give clear communication.
Be ready: Make sure you can actually buy it -if the item is good quality and well priced there will be a lot of interest up the Gumtree. Have the cash ready and make sure you can transport the item. We’ve had people come to pick up some items and they really struggle to fit it into their transport. You can always hire a man with a van to do the pick up if it is an item you really want.
Be rational: There is no point driving for two hours to save £30 on an item of furniture. You will have spent more than that in time, effort and petrol costs just getting there to pick it up. Once you are familiar with Gumtree you will realise that most things come around more than once. Patience generally pays off so keep looking for your wishlist items.
Be safe: make sure you communicate with the seller before going to view the item. Call if you can and let someone know where you are going. Better yet take someone with you for a second opinion, a hand to lift it and for safety.
So that is how we go up the Gumtree – how about you? Have you ever had much success finding items on Gumtree? Where do you go to find those ‘forever pieces’?