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Considering holding your estate sale on eBay? Online platforms like eBay, Craigslist, or sites for specialty collectors are popular places to sell an item here or there. When cleaning out an entire house, it’s easy to fall into a rhythm of setting aside everything of value with the thought of selling it yourself online.

It’s true that selling your estate sale items via eBay will usually net you more money than selling through an auction company. But you will do a lot, and we mean a lot, of work.

How It Works: Estate Sales on eBay

For any online platform, you’ll obviously need to list your item on the site. That means you’ll need an account for whichever site(s) you use. Each item will need a description, with an honest assessment of the wear and tear and any damage. Items with high-quality, sharp photos sell better, especially with multiple photos.

Then you must research pricing. This is an art unto itself, because it isn’t based on what you think the item is worth, but on what others are likely to pay. Finding similar used items for sale, and pricing yours in the same ballpark, is a basic good start.

For more than a handful of items, listing them (and managing the sale) can quickly turn into a full-time job.

Get the Auction Checklist: Know What Will Sell

Be Prepared for Extra Work

Selling online can work well for someone dedicated to the project. Here are the main areas where online sellers will spend the most time and effort:

  • Storage – Where will you store the sale items, and are you prepared to store them there for several months? The storage space should be easily accessible for visitors if you are selling items locally (such as via Craigslist).
  • Showing and no-shows –Buyers have lots of questions, so be prepared to answer a lot of emails. If you have local buyers, they will want to see the items in person. Many of those prospects will set an appointment and never show up. Others will see the item, then decide not to buy it.
  • Shipping – Don’t forget to calculate the cost and work of packing and shipping into your overall costs (along with any fees – eBay charges a sliding scale fee, based on item sale price). If an item arrives damaged, you’ll deal with the insurance and reimbursement.

Are Online Sales Worth It?

Because fees are low, or nonexistent, do-it-yourself online sales make sense in some situations. Obviously, for a handful of specialty items, this is a great way to connect with your most eager buyers.

But for a house full of belongings, or even for a large collection, selling via eBay or other sites will take a lot of time and work. If you need to maximize your sale price, and you have plenty of free time to invest, try listing a few items to test the process. Then you can decide if selling online is the right fit for your estate.


At Legacy Navigator we work with families in transition. We can empty an entire house within days, sorting what items to keep, sell, donate, and discard. Our employees pack and move everything, then prepare the house for sale. Call us for a free consultation.

Our advice is based on our experience cleaning out and settling estates for our clients. Each project is different, and each state's laws are different. We always recommend that you consult personally with experts about your particular situation before making any important decisions.