Buying Used Furniture: How to Avoid Being Ripped Off

by interior designer

in Furnishings

Buying used furniture can be an extremely rewarding adventure when you happen to come across the table or wardrobe of your dreams. It’s also a cheaper alternative to purchasing new and often expensive items from large retail stores, especially during an economic recession like the one we are facing today. However, there are pitfalls to watch out for when delving into the world of second-hand furniture.

In this article I will highlight some tips that I have always employed when seeking out and buying used furniture. These suggestions will save you from loosing money and also help you to find what you are seeking, faster and more effectively.

1. The Budget

Even before you leave the house, make sure you have calculated how much you are willing to spend. Do this for each item of furniture you have in mind and do your best not to deviate from the amount too much. This is one of the most important points that people often overlook in their excitement. Just because the used item will be cheaper than a brand new one, it doesn’t mean the seller will give it to you for a reasonable price that matches its age and quality.

Make sure to ask questions regarding the price of delivery and any other possible hidden costs.

2. Where to find them?

Upon deciding what item of used furniture you seek to acquire, it is most advisable to browse around the various outlets that sell the piece. Look in your local newspapers or magazines at the various possible places where second-hand furniture is sold. These include warehouse outlet sales, garage sales, flea markets, salvage yards and local real estate auctions. One of the quickest ways to search your local area is in fact online. The website Craigslist is a first choice option. When you find a possible place to buy, then the next step is to go there in person.

3. Where will you put it?

Finding space in your home for used furniture is not difficult if you have the strong desire for a certain item you have seen. However, make sure that you measure the space where you seek to place the new wardrobe, table, bed or bookcase. Get your measuring tape out and measure the floor area and any alcoves. Think too about where you walk in the house and whether the new piece of furniture will block your route or lead you to catch your hip on a sharp edge. Write the measurements down on a note paper and take it with you when you go to buy.

Important: Make sure the item of furniture will actually fit through your front door otherwise you will be left with it stranded outside your home.

used-old-furniture4. Carefully inspect the furniture

The word ‘used’ is key when deciding on the right item of used furniture for your home. In all likelihood, most pieces will be in reasonable to good condition otherwise they would not be placed on the sale stands. Obviously useless furniture will not sell and is only good for the scrapyard, bonfire or as a charming rustic garden ornament hidden amongst flowers and bushes.

With wooden used furniture, check for signs of wood rot and whether the joints and seams are in good condition. Consider whether the hinges to cupboard doors will need replacing or whether the wheels on some rolling cabinets actually go in the direction you push them. All these factors will be influential in what price you finally agree upon with the seller.

5. Test the furniture

This suggestion ties in with the previous one. Test the item. Lean on tables, sit on chairs, recline onto the sofa or bed and shake a little to test the springs and legs. Squeeze the covers and the cushioned areas to make sure there are no sharp edges or hidden rips. If there are any extendible parts, for instance with fold-up tables or cabinets, then don’t be afraid to test each of these and open up the piece of furniture to its full extent.

If the item of used furniture passes all these tests and the price seems acceptable, then go ahead and buy the item. If you have done your homework, then you will enjoy your purchase for many years to come and could even possibly provide future generations of your family with a family treasure.

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