First-home buyers struggling to get on the property ladder may have a nice cash boost to their deposit laying right under their noses.
Australians on average have 25 unwanted items in their homes worth an estimated total of $4200 per household, according to the 2018 Gumtree Second Hand Economy report.
With property prices making home ownership still unattainable for many, selling unwanted items could be the lucrative “side hustle” needed to supplement income and grow savings.
But it’s millennials – those most at the mercy of pricey real estate markets in Australian capitals – who are best placed to take advantage of the $34 billion second-hand economy, and most likely to contribute the proceeds to a home deposit, according to the report.
They have more valuable unwanted items than other generations, hoarding an average $5040 worth of superfluous stuff per household, and they’re earning more money selling it, which Gumtree Australia managing director Martin Herbst attributed to their digital literacy.
“With greater savviness comes the ability to sell things at a higher price and the confidence that they can actually get more value of out those things,” he said.
The rise of the ‘side hustle’
Sluggish wage growth, an increasingly casualised workforce and high entry prices for desirable real estate markets mean first-home buyers face significant challenges overcoming the deposit hurdle.
While an extra $4200 won’t stretch far for many first-home buyers, a side hustle – extra money earnt outside of full-time work – may be what hopeful home buyers need to grow their savings.
“The whole point of the side hustle is to make more money,” technology commentator Trevor Long said. “They’re either in a job and they’re not earning enough or they’re in the freelance world where you don’t have a single job, you just find income wherever you can. Selling stuff is just another form of income to some people.”
For 24-year-old marketing consultant Rachael Cameron, the goal of home ownership inspired her to set up several income streams to boost her savings.
She found additional work waiting tables and babysitting, but has made extra money selling unwanted clothes, accessories and even an old bike online and at markets.
“I’ve always looked for alternate ways to save a bit of extra cash,” she said. “Obviously, saving for a house is quite expensive and every little bit counts and I’m just trying to find different ways to make that happen a bit sooner.
“At the end of the day, rather than throwing out my items, which is bad for the environment, I’ve made a bit of extra cash.”
Financial planner and SugarMamma.TV founder Canna Campbell said a side hustle was “almost like a secondary business” and earning extra money was a great first step towards financial freedom.
“If you proactively put it into a bank account with a goal, whether it’s a home or an investment property, you start making that money really count.”
She recently held a competition to discover the most creative side hustle. “You’d be amazed what people come up with,” she said. “One person was growing bonsai trees and selling them and making $400 a month in cash. Other people were growing food and making jams.”
Which items are best to sell?
Clothing, shoes and accessories are the most popular items to sell, according to the Gumtree report, followed by homewares, furniture and electronic goods.
Smartphones are one of the easiest items to sell because technology is upgraded frequently and items are easy to value, according to Mr Long.
“The thing in your pocket is worth money to someone who doesn’t want to sign a contract or doesn’t have the money to spend $1500 on a phone, but would certainly spend a few hundred.”
Former contestants of The Block Kyal and Kara Demmrich said restoring or re-purposing old and unwanted furniture was a way to both affordably furnish a home while banking savings further down the line.
“Once you’re done with the item, you’ve upcycled it, so potentially you can relist it in a few years’ time and make that money back again,” Ms Demmrich said.
How to sell your unwanted stuff online
1. Declutter – Sort through your stuff and decide what is worth keeping and what you can get rid of.
2. Research – Search online for similar items for their estimated value. Keep in mind certain items may be worth more in different areas.
3. Photos – Take several photos of each item from different angles and in good light. Take photos of any marks or damage so the seller knows what they’re getting.
4. List it – Post your ad on all relevant sites including Gumtree, eBay and Marketplace. For specialist items that appeal to enthusiasts, forums and message boards may be effective.
5. Pick up – Once you’ve agreed on a price, arrange for the buyer to pick up the item at a convenient time. Offering pickup both at home and at work can help sell an item quicker.