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UAE: Saving big when buying, selling, swapping second-hand household goods Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: Whether you’re looking to let go of items that you don’t need anymore, or clearing out your home ahead of a major move, it’s best to know your options when it comes to selling or swapping items.

In the current environment, having a garage sale or physically visiting a flea market isn't as quite a welcoming an option as it was pre-pandemic. However, with expats constantly arriving and leaving the country, there is a constant source of barely-used goods being bought and sold.

The second-hand goods market has changed dramatically since the financial crisis of 2008 – 2009. Prior to that, the economic boom of the mid-2000s saw most spending on items that were new. Surveys from online surveys have indicated that at least six in every 10 people buy or sell used items in the UAE.

Buying used instead of new is more cost-effective

Although reined-in spending patterns were visible through most of 2020, habits to buy, sell or swap second-hand goods at a bargain – mostly to make up for any loss in income brought on by the current economic crisis – has picked up since.

However, just like a car loses value as soon as you drive it off the lot, most household items also lose value when they are no longer new, though many household items hold their value better than cars. When it comes to saving money, you will save and earn by buying used instead of new.

What’s the best platform available in the UAE?

There are a number of digital platforms available in the UAE where you can sell second-hand goods.

When it comes selling luxury items, it is widely recommended to use The Luxury Closet, which offers a home pick-up service for those looking to sell their wares, or La Suite UAE. For those willing to drop off their mid to high-end goods. Dubai's Retold, is a boutique that accepts pre-owned fashion.

Those looking to sell furniture and other household items can look at Get That, Varage Sale or make use of several active community or second-hand groups rampantly seen on Facebook.

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There are a number of digital platforms available in the UAE where you can sell second-hand goods.

How to competitively price your items?

Deciding on the price of a second-hand product involves comparing it to similar items being sold elsewhere. On average, users discount the price between 40 to 70 per cent from its original retail cost, depending on the condition of the item.

Experts add that used clothing, for example, can be priced at roughly a fifth of the original retail price. Customers should set the prices slightly above what they are willing to settle for as buyers will try to negotiate, especially when an item is not competitively priced.

Once you’ve determined what you want to sell, you’ll need to do your research and price your items competitively. You can use the different online appraisal tools, freely available online, to determine the value or trending price of a particular item in a specific category.

Don’t base your resale price on the price you paid

Most think that when reselling items that you have used, you should sell them for less than you bought them. That is true when it’s things that you bought new and then want to resell after you’ve used them. However, that rule of thumb does not carry over to items you bought used, and then want to resell.

Base your price on the market value of the item, not what you paid (whether it was a lot or a little). In order to know the market, you’ll have to do some compare listing prices online before you list your household items for sale.

Profit comes at the purchase, not the sale

The key rule for buying used is to only buy things that you can resell for a profit. This works only if you know that what you’re buying is a great price and know the potential mark-up either now or in the future.

It’s also key to know what prices are a ‘steal’ and at what prices will the items sell fast. This is when you want to buy. Learn what a fair price is for your product that will sell to an interested buyer. This is the price range you will sell your item at. However, keep in mind it may take a week or two to sell.

In many niches, knowing brands is essential. What gives the item value is the reputation of the brand. If people are hesitant to buy used, having a name brand often assures them that they are purchasing quality and not getting scammed.

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Bargaining tactics can be used when looking for second-hand items online too. Image Credit: Stock image

Knowing what products you should sell on what platform

Know what categories sell particularly well on the online marketplace you are researching. For example: On popular platform eBay, three categories that sell particularly well are: auto parts, used goods, and closeouts (on clearance or discount sale of products not selling well).

While some platform sellers focus on a niche product, others follow the trends to sell what is popular at the moment. One way to find out what’s hot in the marketplace is to see what is trending.

You can research seasonal trends and historical data is Google Trends. You can use it to help gauge consumer demand and determine the best time to list and sell your product.

For example, let’s say you want to sell winter accessories. Type in the item’s name on Google Trends, and you’ll see a spike in web search volume in late November through early December.

What items sell at a profit, what doesn’t?

“My experience selling books on Amazon was profitable but you have to have a good supply,” wrote Ronald B., a former quality assurance executive who often makes most of his purchases and sells used items online.

“Cars are always good, but closely inspect when buying household goods and electronics. Everyday clothes aren’t recommended to buy used but some brand name specialties are good, especially luxury items that are most often way over budget.

“Finally machines, tools and equipment are always in demand. Remember to not fall in love with anything especially if you don't know it. I paid $350 (Dh1,285) for old silverware and dishes, they were worthless. Go slow, real slow; and find your niche.”

Online platforms popularly used for selling goods

‘Buy It, Sell It, Swap It Dubai’: The private Dubai-based Facebook group has nearly 70,000 members looking to buy, sell and swap their pre-loved items. All posts include pictures, the price, collection location, with no third-party adverts. You can find everything from gym equipment, sofas, books, electronics, toys and even cars.

‘Pre-Loved Luxury Furniture & Home Decor UAE’: This is another private Dubai-based Facebook group with nearly 25,000 members. It is a proven platform for residents in Dubai to sell pre-loved luxury furniture at a bargain. The majority of the items listed are from more pricey furniture shops, as well as antiques.

‘The Luxury Closet’: This Dubai-based online luxury marketplace distributes pre-loved designer items to new owners. The online boutique sells pre-loved luxury items like handbags, clothes, watches and jewellery from top luxury brands. The digital platform verifies the authenticity and the condition of the luxury products.

‘Nefertiti Used Furniture’: This is a platform to buy and sell furniture from expats who are moving. It’s a quick way to get rid of good-quality things if you don’t want the hassle of advertising a product yourself. The online platform also has an outlet where people can purchase the products that are sold.

‘Second Hand Dubai’: This Dubai-based online portal to buy and sell second-hand goods has a community of bargain hunters via its Facebook page and also through its website. You can purchase or dispose of items ranging from cars to computers, books to furniture.

Looking to sell unwanted items before moving back home?
If you are looking to quickly dispose unwanted items when moving out of the country, there are platforms such as ‘FreeCycle Abu Dhabi’ (a 79,000-member strong Facebook group) and businesses like ‘Take My Junk’ and ‘You Call We Haul’ that take items from you free of cost.