Yard Sale Negotiating – How to price items and make a profit

How to price and negotiate at your yard saleDo you have too much old stuff taking up space in your garage or basement?  Is it time to plan a Yard Sale?  

The benefits of a yard sale are many, starting with cleaning up and de-cluttering your house.  In addition to gaining new empty space, which makes your house feel bigger, you find things you didn’t remember owning, and you throw out junk!  Then of course, you make some extra cash for all your hard work.   Read more to help you hone your selling tactics so that you can make a better profit on your sale. 

My pricing and negotiating rationale depends on several factors including time of day:

Do I want to bring this thing back in the basement if it doesn’t sell?

Has anyone shown any interest in this item yet?  Is it likely to sell today?

Is it early in the day with lots of time for more buyers to visit?

Is it later in the afternoon, almost time to shut down for the day? 

Should I just lower the price and get rid of this piece? 

As the day progresses, I change my feelings and prices on items if I see that they don’t seem to be pieces that many people are interested in.  I also walk around with a red marker and slash prices and lower them after lunch.  This keeps people interested in the items, they like to see that the price was lowered.

Pricing Items to sell

  • Know what the original cost of the item was so you can determine your ticket price.
  • If an item is in good condition and useable it is okay to price it at half of its original cost, even more depending on its condition.
  • Plan to price items for a little more than you would expect to receive. Everyone wants a bargain so your customers will want to pay less than what you put on the price sticker.  Many buyers will want to bargain a bit, so leave haggling room.
  • You can include the original price on an item and then what your sale price is. For example: Child’s bicycle original price $75.  Perfect condition, asking $40.  You expect someone to offer $30 or $25 and negotiate from that point.  When people offer me $5, I smile and say no, unless it is late in the day and we are finishing up.  Then if I really don’t want that item back in my basement, I’ll try for $6 or $7.

Effective Responses when buyers are not offering enough for an item:

I was hoping to get more than that, the original cost is $x.

It’s early in the day and we just opened, I’ll wait for some more offers.

I’m hoping to get more for that, if you want to come back at the end of the day, it may still be here for that price.

I already have an offer of $x for that item, so I’m sure I can sell it for closer to my asking price.

If you would like to leave your name and number, I can call you if I don’t sell it today.

If a buyer really wants to buy an item from you, they will pay your price.  You will know which items are the hot sellers by how many people stop to look at a piece or inquire about it.  Once you get a knack for bargaining with buyers, it becomes easier.

Let the buyer set the starting price sometimes

If you have an item without a price and the buyer asks what you want, sometimes it’s better to ask them what they wanted to pay.  If they say a price that is too low, you can always ask for more.  But sometimes, the price they name is more than you were thinking of asking!   This tactic has worked for me many times.  This way, you get a good price for your item and the negotiating was easy.

Whether you are planning your sale alone or with some neighbors, planning ahead is a key factor.  Thinking about your pricing ahead of time, will help you have a better sale and make more cash.  You don’t go through all the time and effort of preparing for your sale to give everything away for .50¢ or $1.   I find it helpful to make a list of all your larger items and the approximate prices you plan on asking.  I keep a running list of potential sale items, in my Notes app on my phone.  This is how I decide when I have enough big items to plan on having a yard sale.  Prior to yard sale day, start attaching price stickers or tickets.   For my larger items, I use a set of index cards with the name and brand of the item, original price and asking price.  This makes it easy to attach the cards quickly the night before the sale.

Related Posts:

How to sell on Craigslist – tips & tricks

Generating Revenue – adding multiple income streams

CLICK HERE to get your Free Party Planning Printable!!      

Below I have listed several selling scenarios from my own yard sales and how I negotiated the sales.  If a buyer really wants an item, they will come closer to your price.  As the seller, you need to be as persuasive and persistent as your buyers.

Full size bed frame and headboard, perfect condition  Tag price $150 (I would have taken $100).  The headboard was very popular and I had constant inquiries all morning long, many more than I expected.  When the tag says $150 and a buyer offers you $20, at 8:30 in the morning, I’m not ready to sell yet.  I had many offers all morning and took a few names and numbers.  I use those offers to keep bumping up the bargaining price.  I had a buyer who offered $125 but needed to come back later with the money and a bigger car.  We agreed that he would come back by 1pm.  Yet another very interested buyer asked about the headboard and I told him that the man was coming back at 1:00.  The new buyer politely informed me that it was now 2:30pm and said he would give me $135 for the headboard and I agreed.  As the new buyer was loading it in his car the first man came rushing up to the house claiming that it was his headboard!  We both pointed out that he was far past 1pm and he sadly gave in.

A set of Good Lenox Dishes  A man (who turned out to be a professional yard sale goer) was in my driveway at 8am offering me much less than I was asking for the Lenox dish set.  Since my Craigslist ad listed several of the larger items, he came specifically for the dishes.     I politely said I would wait for another offer and he continued to look around.  Again he came back with an offer, but I gave him my lowest price to which he said no.   I offered to take his number but he was not interested.  He was very persistent and was almost annoyed that I would not accept his offer.  He left the house but returned within the hour and gave me my asking price.  I have since seen him at every one of my yard sales at two different houses and my neighbors and I are quite convinced that he turns around and sells the items online as his own side-hustle.   Since they are Lenox dishes, he may sell them as replacement pieces and make a good profit on every single piece.



Cheval Mirror I bought a beautiful Cheval mirror at an antique sale many years ago before having a husband and children.  I loved the beautiful oval shape and carved wood stand.  Years later, the spare room it was in became a bedroom for my children and it was too big to keep anywhere else.  Since it was such a pretty piece, standing in my driveway it drew a lot of attention from buyers.  many people were interested but they had no good spot for it in their homes.  The mirror was listed for $175 so it was not a cheap yard sale find.  I had many inquiries and offers early in the morning.  I had one buyer that made an offer of $120.  It was less than I was hoping for so we agreed that I would call her at the end of the day if it didn’t sell.  It is good to know that you have a buyer lined up even if it is a lower price than you were hoping.  Late in the day a couple came buy and offered $150, no more negotiating was needed.  It was another great yard sale.

Yard Sale Planning List

  1. Plan ahead, price your items wisely.
  2. Do lots of advertising in many forms to draw in potential buyers.
  3. Price your items at a price high enough to reflect their worth but also leave room for negotiating.
  4. Watch to see which items seem to be most popular so you know how much to haggle.
  5. Be prepared to negotiate a bit, take buyers phone numbers if necessary.
  6. Hedge your bets and line up a back-up buyer if you can.

What has worked for you at your yard sale? Leave a comment and let us know!




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7 comments

  1. It’s been ages since I had a yard sale. I had one lady come and go through a number of purses I had – presumably checking for missed items. She was very thorough – but in the end she walked away (of course I’d already made sure they were empty).

  2. Hi, Gloria 🙂 I love finding things I don’t remember owning!

    You give some savvy advice here that I will definitely put to good use at my next yard sale. I was going to say that you should be a teacher… and then I saw that you’re a teacher! LOL

    What works for me? Because I cave too easy, I have a rule that I stick to my price the entire first day of my yard sale and save negotiating for day two. It’s helped me make a profit on SO many things I would have sold too cheaply otherwise.

    P.S. I pinned your post on my Pinterest Yard Sale Advice Board: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/223983781449261130/

    1. Thanks so much for sharing my post, Kristi! It is nice to feel more experienced as a Yard Sale Negotiator!
      I do love that the older we get, the wiser and more confident we become as well.
      Yes, many people tell me that I sound like a teacher, 32 years of teaching will do that!

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