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  • Writer's pictureMarni Jameson

Furniture Holding You Back? Not Anymore

Like many empty nesters, Lisa Everett and her husband looked up one day at their large, fully furnished home, where they’d raised their two sons and more than a few dogs, and decided they wanted a little less. They surveyed the roomfuls of furniture and art they’d amassed over the past 30 years, the pool, the yard, the guest house, and realized they wanted less house, less maintenance, and less stuff, in exchange for more time and more freedom.

They found a beautiful new home nearby that fit their vision. Now the problem was what to do with all the stuff. “We didn’t know where to begin,” Lisa told me.

Over the years, I have heard lots of excuses for why folks stay stuck in homes that no longer suit them. (My cat is buried here. I just replaced the roof. I am planning to get younger.) But the most common by far is they don’t know what to do with all their stuff. That wasn’t going to hold these two back.

To help clear the runway, Lisa called Carey Kuhl, a moving concierge and owner of Kuhl Interiors, in Winter Park, Fla., to help sell the furniture not destined for the new place. A growing field, moving concierges help folks through all aspects of a move but the move itself.

And they’re not only for those on the move.

“I get called for a variety of reasons,” Kuhl said. “People call when they are moving and don’t want to deal with selling their furniture, or when they want a fresh look, which means getting rid of old furniture to make room for new. Others want to downsize, and some are tired of storing furniture in their garage or storage facility.”

Lisa checked all of the above.

What all Kuhl’s clients have in common is that their furniture is standing between them and the life or look they want.

Last week, when I got Kuhl on the phone, she was helping a senior single woman move out of a large home to an independent living facility in another town closer to her kids. Together they were sorting out what was going to auction, to family members, to the new place, and what Kuhl would sell, in this case, a dining room table, a few oriental rugs, a sleeper sofa and an antique cabinet.

I overheard the client say she felt lighter already.

Lisa also felt relieved. “I wouldn’t know how to price items, or where to post them, and I would worry about scammers,” she said. Kuhl, who has sold hundreds of items, takes care of all that, for a 35 percent commission on completed sales.

If the client has items of unique value, she can place those, too. She’s worked with clients to help coordinate the donation of a rare stained-glass collection to a museum, and a fine grand piano to the city opera. “Most sellers just want to know their belongings will be appreciated.”

For those of you thinking, “Wow, I could use that service!” (And who couldn’t?), Kuhl recommends searching online under “moving concierge,” or asking a Realtor for a referral. However, if you want to clear furniture from your runway yourself, here are some of Kuhl’s rules:

· Price it right. “Most items will sell at the right price,” she said, “though that price is often disappointing. I have to prepare my clients.” Research the online market for similar items. If the item is a sought-after brand in excellent condition, she will list it for 40-to-50 percent of retail. More typically, sellers should expect to get closer to 20-to-25 percent of what they bought it for, less commission.

· Know what’s hot and what’s not. Buyers want good quality, good brand, and good price. Items from desirable retailers like Restoration Hardware, West Elm, Ballard, Ethan Allen, Pottery Barn, and Bernhardt sell well. Less popular are antiques, and furniture that is oversized, heavy, dark, or very formal.

· Feature photos. Take good pictures, including ones of any imperfections. Include those along with complete measurements in your post.

· Cast a wide net. You can join up to 20 selling sites on Facebook Marketplace. The more exposure the better your chances of fetching a faster sale at a higher price. She steers clear of Craigslist and does not offer shipping or delivery.

· Adjust pricing. Kuhl monitors her listings and adjusts the price downward every five or six days until the item sells.

· Do not be the mover. Consider stating in your post: “Sorry, no moving help is available on site. Please check the dimensions of your vehicle.” Otherwise, she added, “you have a 70-year-old woman wearing flip-flops showing up in a Prius to pick up a dresser.”

· Stay safe. Kuhl meets buyers at the seller’s house, when possible in the open garage or driveway. “I never sell anything from a storage unit. Buyers don’t want to go to a storage facility, and I don’t want to meet a stranger there.”

· Watch for scams. Don’t accept checks, including cashier’s checks, wired funds, or credit cards. Kuhl only accepts cash, Venmo and PayPal, and only does in-person transactions. Red flags include anyone who wants to wire you the money or a deposit right away. Do not give out your cell number or email address. “That is the beginning of a road you do not want to go down.” Communicate strictly through the marketplace platform.

· Be realistic. You may not get the price you think you should, but the real value is in freeing up your home and clearing the path to your next best life.

CAPTION: Out with the old. Moving concierge Carey Kuhl helps clients sell good furniture that doesn’t fit in their next home or with their new look. Current, custom pieces, like this chair, are good resell candidates. Photo courtesy Harry Cummings.


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