Buying Used Upholstered Furniture

Are you thinking about purchasing a used upholstered sofa or chair? How much should pay for it? Will you have it reupholstered, or will you be using it as it is?

Each Piece of Furniture Has 3 Values

When going out to buy used furniture, the buyer should keep the following three values in mind, the true value, the value to the owner, and the value to the buyer. This knowledge will help to negotiate when you want to purchase used furniture.

True Value

The true value is based upon the market value of the item. How much would a number of reasonable buyers pay for the item. In some case, the true value may be based upon the appraised value. But for most common used furniture, there is no appraised value. To prepare yourself for purchasing used furniture, you need to have at least a vague sense what used furniture is worth. Here are some ways to educate yourself.

List the type of furniture that you will be looking for. Then look through the classified section of the newspaper to see what similar furniture is selling for. Look at online advertising, such as Craig's list. You may not be willing or have the time and resources to go out and look at each piece of furniture, but look at as many as you can in person. One of the best places to look at used furniture is at second hand stores and thrift stores. This will give you an idea of what prices are being asked for what condition of furniture. Keep a list of the prices you have found for each type of furniture.

Value to Owner

The value that the owner assigns to their furniture may vary greatly depending how badly they want to get rid of the item, how much sentiment they have in the item, how much they remember they paid for it. The owner may value it a lot more or a lot less than the true value of the item. This will vary from seller to seller. For the exact same item, 3 different sellers may ask 3 widely different prices. The price they ask reflects the value that the item has to them.

Value to the Buyer

The value of any item to any buyer depends upon how badly the buyer wants or needs the item and how much he is willing to pay.

The Strategy of the Deal

Buyers and sellers come together with different motives. The buyer is often thinking, “What's the most that someone will pay for this? (along with, “What is the least that I would take for this?” which becomes his low benchmark. And then he will set a higher price to allow himself to come down in price. He won't go to his low benchmark unless he has to.) Sometimes they don't set a price hoping that a buyer will pay them more than they would ask. Conversely, a client comes to the deal thinking, “What's the least I can pay for this furniture (or he might be asking himself, what is the most I would pay for this?) So I'll start at a lower figure in case I have to

Some sellers aren't used to haggling, or don't want to negotiate, so they put the price they want in their add and there price is “firm!” They won't come down in price. A Savvy buyer learns to recognize the difference between the two types of sellers, and adjusts his offers accordingly.

Before You Make an Offer

Never give an offer without personally inspecting the furniture.

  Sometimes you find pictures of used furniture online, such as on Craig's List. I would never offer a price just from a picture onlone.  I can’t tell from the small pictures how worn they are, however I don’t see any obvious wear or soil spots. I can’t tell what quality they are from a picture, so I’m just going to assume that they are typical new furniture quality (lower mid range). I’m not an appraiser, but I can give you how I’d make an offer. My rule of thumb is: my top price for a used item is ½ of new price if the item is in like new condition, then I would go down from there.

Before talking price, sit in the chairs. Closely inspect them and try them both out. Firmly try to wiggle the frame in all directions. See if the frame is rock solid..Sometimes one chair gets used more than the other. Are they comfortable to you? Is the foam too soft? Lift up the seat cushion. Is the deck under the cushion new and crisp, or do you see a lot of dust, etc. which indicate a chair that has been used more. Unzip the back of the cushion and look at the foam to see if it’s mashed down (indicating an older chair).
Also, ask them how old the chairs are. If they are only a few months or a year old the fabric could be assumed to have more wear left in it than if the chair was 5 or 10 years old.
Ask them why they are getting rid of the chairs. What is the history of the chairs?
With all that said, let me give you an example. I wouldn’t make an offer without actually seeing a sofa or chair in person. As an example, let us assume that you saw a picture of a couple of wing chairs on Craig's list. How much should you pay for them. From my perspective, if these chairs were in like new quality I probably wouldn’t offer more than $100 to $150 each. (but since I’m more thrifty, I’d probably offer closer to $100 each AND wouldn’t offer even this much unless they were in really good shape AND my wife and I really want them). If they were in moderate condition, perhaps I’d offer $50 to $75 each. If they show signs of wear or soil, perhaps $25 each, or less.
With that said, I’d go there and ask how much they want for the chair. Many times, if you let the other person set the price they often will ask less than you might offer, so try hard to make the other person give a price. Then, if you think it is too much, make a counter offer of a lesser price.

Leave an Offer

If you really want the item, but are unwilling or unable to meet the asking price, leave your name and contact info on a card or paper with the price that your are willing to pay. If the seller is unable to sell it for their price, and they really want to get rid of it, they may call you later and accept your offer.