Business & Real Estate

I'm moving: What should I do with all my stuff?

Let’s face it, we are collectors. We hold onto many things far longer than we probably should. Many of us were raised by people for whom the Depression was very real, but it’s nearly 2020.

If you’re selling your house, you’ll probably need to get rid of a few things (OK, probably a lot more than a few), so following are answers to frequently asked questions about resources. A word of caution: There is a very limited market for second-hand things these days, so don’t get your hopes up for a windfall from selling your old Hummel figurines.

Q: I have lots of good-quality furniture, etc., that I can’t take with me. Where can I donate it?

A: My first suggestion is to talk with family, friends and neighbors and ask if anyone needs furniture. Maybe you know a college student who could use a couch. A gardener could use your yard tools, and kitchen things might go to a house cleaner. The Nextdoor website is a good way to move things along as well. Offering them for free is the best solution. Beyond that, there are other options, but most are rather selective in what they’ll accept. Try the Bay Area Furniture Bank, the Ecumenical Hunger Program, the Salvation Army, Hope and Goodwill. If they won’t take your items, try the curb in front of your house with a large “Free” sign taped to it. You’d be amazed at what people will take.

Q: But some of my things are very valuable. Is there any way to get some money for them?

A: Usually not, unless they are of high value, like artwork or sterling silver. Consignment stores will take some things, but they, too, are very selective. For china, crystal and silver, visit Replacements.com and see what they will pay for your pieces. An estate-sale company may be an option, but they tend to work with larger collections. They typically both charge for their services and take a percentage of the sales. Call me and I can give you some names. If you have the time and energy, eBay and Etsy are websites that allow you to sell your items directly to consumers, but I typically find the financial returns are pretty low for the amount of effort it takes.

Q: Are there other options?

A: Yes, there are companies such as Kuzak’s Closet and Managing Moves and More that will meet with you to review what you have and help you determine how to best move it on.

Q: What about household hazardous waste and paint disposal?

A: Most cities or counties have programs set up to help you get rid of hazardous items. You will typically need to take it to a drop-off site, but such services are organized so that you don’t even have to get out of your car. Visit Santa Clara County’s Household Hazardous Waste program at hhw.org for a useful resource.

Q: Are there resources for clothes, books and guns?

A: Yes.

• Clothes. Local drop-off centers are all around. For higher-quality items, consider one of the organizations that donates items to those in need such as the nonprofit Dress for Success, the Princess Project or the Veterans Administration facilities in Palo Alto or Menlo Park.

• Books. Most libraries accept donations. Some will even bring you boxes and then pick them up after you fill them. Call me for details.

• Guns and munitions. Call your local police department or sheriff. Do not take weapons to the police station without calling ahead for specific instructions.

Q: This sounds like a lot of work. Are there people who can help?

A: Yes, it can be a daunting and emotional job. Talk with your family or your attorney and see if they have suggestions. There are fee-based professional organizers you can hire as well. Don’t try to take on the entire project in one weekend. Set up a plan, take your time and spread it out over as many weeks as you can and you’ll get through it.

Owen Halliday is a realtor who manages the Sereno Group office in downtown Los Altos. Text or call him with questions, comments and potential column topics at 492-0062 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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