The trouble (and cost) of downsizing

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If you choose to downsize, you have to decide what to do with all the things that won’t fit in your new home. Children and relatives may want some of your heirlooms.

You can have an estate sale, a moving sale, a yard sale, donate items to charity, put things in storage or some combination of all these things, but you have to deal with downsizing your possessions when you downsize your home.

Online auction for locals

I came across a way for seniors to auction off everything they don’t want to keep or pass along, using an online auction site called MaxSold. The founder, Barry Gordon, describes the service as an event-based online auction. He tells people to think of it as Craigslist meets eBay. It’s a local online auction service now operating in about 20 metro areas.

The local part is key. Items aren’t shipped. The winning bidders have to come and pick up the items. The lots are classified by size and assigned a pickup time. Small items get picked up first so the person who bought the china cabinet doesn’t have to deal with the items that were sold from inside the cabinet.

It almost all goes away

The neat thing is that, unlike some of the options listed above, 98.5% of the items sell and 99% of the items go away. How does that happen? All bids start at $1.

Gordon points out that 95% of what we own is going down in price while the cost of selling things keeps going up. He feels that possessions shouldn’t hold seniors back from getting on with their lives. The company charges a 30% commission and has a $1,000 minimum fee.

Storage isn’t the answer

My father is thinking about downsizing. I joke with him that my plan to deal with his stuff if he doesn’t is to put it in storage and then not pay the storage bill, although “Storage Wars” doesn’t film in his area.

Gordon says that storage is often just delaying a decision and that it doesn’t take long for the cost of storage to outstrip the value of what’s being stored.

If you’ve downsized, how did you manage your stuff?

Follow me on Twitter: @drdonsays.