Allison Ruby
May 9, 2017

10 Things You Can and Can’t Sell At an Estate Sale

While prepping for a sale, seemingly worthless items like used makeup, old bottles of liquor and food can seem like trash, but, have you ever wondered if anyone would ever actually buy this stuff? More importantly, is it legal? The answers may shock you! Here is a list of common items that can either make you money or get you into trouble.

  1. Liquor – toss it! Nearly every home we come across has a hidden liquor stash somewhere! Some aged Bourbon or a really old bottle of wine from that one holiday party back in the day. So, can you sell it at your estate sale? Unfortunately not. Every state currently requires you to have your liquor license in order to sell or handle any form of consumable alcohol. Some people may take the risk of letting a customer rummage through that cabinet in order to make an extra buck but with every decision comes a possible consequence and in the state of Michigan it happens to be a $10,000 fine. Often times, it just isn’t worth it.
  2. Cars/Trucks/Campers – sell it! You’re in luck! If the title is clean you can sell any motorized vehicle! Just be sure to double check with your local SOS office for what you will need. This usually involves the title and consent from the owner to liquidate the vehicle as part of the estate sale. If the vehicle is being sold on the behalf of a deceased loved one, special rules and forms apply.
  3. Underwear – sell it! Believe it or not people will buy your underwear! Bras, panties, boxers, and lingerie. Even night gowns, socks, and robes. Although it seems strange and may make you uncomfortable, everyone is in need of these items and they can be properly cleaned and sanitized making them ready to use again! On the flip side, if these types of items are in poor condition, ie. rips, holes, and stains they are considered unsellable at that point.
  4. Computers – sell it! Everyone has that old computer laying around. It may be a dinosaur but believe it or not someone wants it and you’re allowed to sell it! Just be sure to check the hard drive! If you don’t, it could make some cash turn into trash. If that isn’t cleared before selling to rid it of personal information, you could be held liable for what that hard drive contains and how it is used in the future.
  5. Used/Retired Baby Gear – toss it! Used baby items can be sold to a limited extent. For example, antique cribs are popular for collectors and used clothing is a great way for a new family to save money. However, the line is drawn at items used to ensure the safety of the child. These items include car seats, cribs, toys and high chairs, just to name a few. Each year the requirements on infant care items change and the items themselves are updated to new safety standards. That is something you don’t want to be held liable for so make sure you do some research before you tell that new mother that the old car seat in your basement is safe!
  6. Food and Spices – sell it! Food is food! As long as it’s not expired, someone will be waiting to buy it for themselves, a loved one, or even a canned food drive! Might as well keep it around and make an extra buck or two.
  7. Old License Plates – sell it! Some license plates are actually worth quite a bit! The older the better in this case with some plates reaching values over $500. It might be surprising but there are currently no laws or restrictions in place for the sale of used license plates.
  8. Used Cosmetics – sell it! Can you sell used makeup? Of course! Some people make art using makeup and some people know how to clean it up and make sure it is safe for their own use. Used makeup from an estate sale could also be a neat way to save money and get some practice for that beauty school you are looking to attend.
  9. Ivory – sell it! (with additional research) The sale of ivory is complicated. It is illegal in most states to sell it without proof of what species the piece was obtained from, which area of the world it came from, and how old it is. Antique ivory, if proven to be so, is not illegal to sell. However, some states like New York say that it is illegal no matter what. As long as you check with your state and get the piece appraised by a professional you will be fine. If not, you run the risk of going to prison. The link provided below will help you determine if it is worth selling or not. Donating it and passing it down through the family however are great options to steer clear of any misunderstanding or potential trouble! https://www.fws.gov/international/travel-and-trade/ivory-ban-questions-and-answers.html
  10. Firearms/Weapons – sell it! (with additional research) Not often are weapons and firearms part of an estate sale but when they are, can you sell them? Depending on the type of weapon and the state you live in, yes! Each state has a different set of laws and requirements when it comes to dealing firearms so make sure to double check with your local police department or sheriff’s office before you proceed. Other weapons like swords and knives are free to sell and trade at your leisure with the exception of things like trench knives, brass knuckles, and police batons. Provided is a link for general firearm sale rules by state. https://www.nraila.org/