Have you ever purchased a piece of second-hand furniture and discovered after buying that it was not real wood or it had major issues that you did not notice at purchase? I am going to share all my helpful tips that will help you to easily buy second-hand furniture like a pro.
First, let’s talk about WHERE to buy second-hand furniture.
You need to find the furniture before you can apply my advice and tips for negotiating a fair price.
*Garage Sales – This is the most common place that people will search for used furniture. Garage sales have a few drawbacks; they are seasonal so you can only look in the warmer months, you have to waste time and gas driving around to many locations, and you have to be the first to get there especially if the used furniture is a good price and in great shape. I think this is where the term “the early bird gets the worm” came from, just joking. I just checked and it originated in 1670.
Check out these Custom Blue Painted Dressers that I found at a garage sale.
*Thrift Stores/ Second-Hand Stores
This is a great source especially if they specialize in home decor. You can shop year around and you do not have to waste your gas and time. The only drawback is they might not negotiate on prices, they have overhead as they have a storefront. All the shops are different so always ask if they are firm on their pricing.
This Repurposed Radio Cabinet was one of my favorite thrift store finds
Flea markets are always good because you have so many different sellers in one location. You are not wasting your time or gas driving around like with garage sales. You also have indoor flea markets that are good in the cold months. Again, the “early bird catches the worm” applies to flea markets as well.
The best auctions are the ones that are selling the house and the contents. Most people go to the auction for the house and really don’t care about the “Stuff.” The big drawback with an auction is you have to wait until the end of the house auction before they start to auction the stuff. Now, most auctions will post preview pictures online of all the stuff before the auction so you can view the contents and see if it is worth your time to go to the auction. Estate sales also show preview pictures before the sale. The best bargains are on the last day because they are eager to sell the remaining items. Some Estate sales can be pricey due to the antique type of items they are selling. It is also a great source for that one of a kind furniture.
This has by far been the best means for me and finding items I want without wasting my time and efforts. No driving around wasting gas or my time. Yes, I have to drive to go get it or go view the second-hand furniture, but worth the time if you know it is something you want. Here is a list of online sites that I have used: Facebook Market Place, Facebook Community Pages, Craigslist, Let Go, Offer Up. Facebook Market place is my favorite. If you use any others, please let me know so I can update the list for others.
*Friends & Family
I have received numerous pieces of furniture for great prices and many of them have been free from friends and family. Once the word spreads that you are looking for old furniture, that resource turns out to be a great one.
It is hard to find my favorite from my list of friends and family and I think this Tufted Coffee Table Bench is a favorite on my site.
***Final thought – Never overlook roadside treasures, you will be surprised what others throw away like this dresser that I converted to a Media Center.
Second, let’s talk about HOW to buy second-hand furniture.
Now that you found some furniture, here are my tips on what to look for before you make that final purchase.
1- Checking the Structure
Always turn the furniture on it’s back or over so you can see the bottom. I have discovered way too many times that wood furniture was actually pressed wood and not hardwood. Many times they will have wood drawers and wood tops and you assume that everything is wood until you flip it over and see the pressed wood bottom.
Just because a wood piece of furniture is heavy does not mean it is solid wood. In my experience, if a wood furniture piece is overly heavy, it has pressed wood. ***Pressed wood is heavier than real wood. Never take the sellers word that it is all wood, thoroughly examine the piece to find out for yourself. Remember to flip it on its back.
Always open ALL drawers, doors and moving parts to make sure they work. If they don’t open this is a major bargaining tool. Never assume you can get it open later, you may never will or you may cause major damage to get it open. I have discovered major damage to pieces where the drawers or doors would not open.
Look for missing pieces, chipped veneer, wobbly legs, missing drawer supports (always completely remove the drawer, not just open and close)and any altered or modified fixes.
2 – Don’t forget the overlooked things
Know the size of the piece you will need, especially if you are purchasing for a specific place in your home.
Does the item smell, you might be surprised how bad an item can smell when left in musty places or the worst is cat odors.
Bring your imagination- Always look at a piece to go beyond its original function. Maybe a top can be removed, legs shortened, added to another piece or modified in some means.
If buying from an online market place, do not commit to buying the piece until you have seen the item. I have found things in worse condition than the pictures showed, so always say after I inspect.
Now, let’s talk about Negotiating prices.
It never hurts to ask, they can say no!
When inspecting a piece of furniture always say out loud what is wrong with the piece, that way the seller is hearing all the details as to why the price should be lower.
Once inspected determine if the price is fair for the market values in your area, the damages and the time it will take to restore the item. All this plays into what is considered a fair price.
Kindly state, I have been looking at other pieces like this and yours needs a little more work, do you have any room to negotiate the price? You are not offending them with a low ball offer, you are asking if they are willing.
If an item is overpriced and out of your price range, tell the seller you are very interested and it is more than you can spend and ask them if it does not sell to give you a call. Sometimes people think they can get more for an item, so being patient can work in your favor.
Final thought is to keep looking for that perfect piece. Have patience and don’t settle if the style is not what you are looking for. Being persistent in looking will pay off when you find the perfect piece that you always wanted.
Once you find your piece of furniture, come over to watch my free video on how to properly prep before you paint.
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