Some of my previous posts have addressed estate sales and auctions when looking to sell items. Another option is selling items yourself through the various online platforms such as eBay. Depending on your situation, this may or not be a viable option. If it is, here are some venues and what I see as the plusses and minuses of each.
Ebay is probably the platform everyone is most familiar with. When ebay first launched, it was revolutionary and catered primarily to small sellers looking to offer vintage and collectible items, including antiques. Over time, this changed and in the early 2000's a major revamp steered the company more to large-volume sellers offering pretty much anything. Further changes resulted in a shift to more and more "Buy It Now" listings vs. the standard auctions. As collectibles guru Harry Rinker once observed, ebay has essentially become an online retail store vs. an online auction platform.
That said, ebay does remain a major force in selling. While the focus is no longer primarily on older items, many people do still buy and sell antiques and collectibles on ebay. The plusses that I see are the ability to set a reserve price, the likelihood of an immediate sale (if auctioning), and the ability to reach a wide audience. Other plusses are the way the listing process has become incredibly simplified and the sophisticated pricing tools that ebay offers. From my own experiences, the largest downsides seem to be a buyer base that I believe is looking for "steals and deals" and fees that now rival auction houses. Consequently, I would probably caution against listing items of significant value if you can instead get them to a reputable auction house, assuming a longer time frame is available to you. If you need the money pronto, however, then ebay may be more of an acceptable venue. Also remember to factor in shipping and transportation, especially for large items.
Another option is selling on Etsy. Etsy has quickly shed its focus on artisan and hand-crafted items and now offers a staggering variety of items, both old and new. Listing fees are minimal and you can list as few or as many items as you like. Because Etsy is a retail only site, however, items may take a long time to sell or not sell at all. If money is needed in a hurry, then you will probably want to circle back to an estate sale or ebay.
Other online selling platforms include store-format venues such as Ruby Lane and 1stDibs. I maintain a store on the Ruby Lane platform, Clark and Proctor Fine Arts, and originally created it mainly to do some personal de-accessioning. Over time, however, it has grown a bit and I now also offer to sell items for clients when they want to try to achieve something closer to a retail price. Since there is a monthly fee of about $70 and a required minimum number of items, this format is best suited for someone looking to consign. Likewise for 1stDibs which also requires a physical store location as well, last I checked.
Lastly, for low-value items or just "stuff", there is always Craigslist. I have sold everything from a Honda CRV to tools and TV's on Craigslist and have always had a good experience. Just be sensible when using it though, and try to meet potential buyers in a neutral, well lit and populated spot. If you ever have stuff you simply want out of the house, use Craigslist's "Free Stuff" category and odds are, it will quickly go away. Everyone likes free stuff!
Bryan H. Roberts is a professional appraiser in Sarasota, FL. He is a member of the Florida State Guardianship Association, the Sarasota County Aging Network (board member), and is certified in the latest Uniform Standards of Appraisal Practice (USPAP).