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When it Pays to cut in the middle man
(Extracts from Telegraph Article – 29/04/05)

How do you sell your kitchen online? Or buy in the cast-iron fireplace you’ve always wanted? Nicole Swengley meets the auction facilitators

Online auctions have offered an alternative to car boot sales as a way of selling unwanted goods over the past few years. Sites such as QXL, Yahoo and the books-to-CDs seller Amazon do a roaring trade. But these are small-fry in comparison with eBay, which has 114 million registered members and more than 25 million items on sale at any one time.

Anyone who uses eBay will know that buying goods online is easy. It's selling them that can be complex and time-consuming. You need to take digital photographs of items from all angles, write a juicy description, answer queries from potential bidders, negotiate insurance costs, queue at the post office to dispatch the goods and finally make sure you get paid (revealing credit or debit card details in the process), Which is why more than 90 per cent of users are buyers rather than sellers. And what about bulky items such as sofas, household appliances or even entire kitchens - how do you offload these?

SellStuffEasy visits home-owners to value bigger items like kitchens, check appliances are in working order and photograph them in situ, then puts buyers in touch with sellers following the online auction.

Auctions run all year round, with each item listed for 10 days. Buyers look mainly for bargains and rarities - not just antiques but modern, discontinued goods, too. Most items fetch about 40 to 60 per cent of their normal retail price, with buyers bearing the postage or delivery costs.

The best-sellers are items with easily recognisable identities because buyers search sites using key words such as brand names. Tracking down a Habitat sofa or an Aga is easy; a generic rug or mirror less so.

Anyone refurbishing a property can benefit. SellStuffEasy recently received 39 bids for a kitchen with Neff appliances that sold for £6,980 and 57 bids for a set of bespoke Poggenpohl kitchen units that went for £2,050.

Case Study
Tom Whelan, 42, a stylist, inherited a two-year-old pine kitchen when he moved into his current property. "It was too traditional for me - I wanted something with a twist." He found SellStuffEasy's website and contacted the company by email. "They came round to the flat, measured everything, tested the appliances and photographed the kitchen, did a write-up and sold it on eBay. I thought I might get about £200 so I was amazed when they sold it for more than £2,000. I got my builders to dismantle it and we packed everything up and the buyer came over and took everything away." The money helped pay for his new kitchen.

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Tom Whelan

Tom Whelan's new kitchen

Tom's old kitchen