If you are planning to put your home on the real estate market, selling some of your personal belongings now has distinct advantages. It will simplify your moving, and put cash in your pocket that you can spend on a few home staging essentials or luxuries. 

How much money you make from hosting a garage sale depends on what you have to sell. But it also depends on how, when, and where you plan your sale. 

Over the years, I've held my own garage and yard sales and I've helped some organizations and clubs hold fundraiser sales. Along the way, I've made mistakes and learned some lessons. Here are my best tips for success.

1. Plan ahead. If possible, choose a time of year when the weather cooperates, when people want to be out and about. The second Saturday in August is called National Garage Sale Day, but spring or fall might be better for your climate. 

2. Neighborhood sales, town-wide events, or other group sales build attendance. Talk to your neighbors about a joint effort. Make sure there are no HOA restrictions or local ordinances against yard sales. 

3. Follow traditions where you live. In some places, Fridays and Saturdays are the norm. In other places, only Saturdays are what's expected. 

4. Promotion is everything. List on Facebook Marketplace and Facebook, local social networks, Craigslist, church or neighborhood bulletins, and listserves. Get the word out as soon as you can count on a reliable weather forecast, probably a week ahead.

5. Your merchandise doesn't need to look new of course, but it should be clean. Don't display broken or grimy things.

People are especially particular about kitchen 
and dining equipment being clean.

6. Price items ahead of your target date. Don't wait until the day before your sale, when your mind is on other details. Buy preprinted stickers at a dollar store or make your own from plain labels.

7. Be realistic about your prices. Keep in mind that people are doing you a favor by helping you pare down belongings.  

8. Have a good starting bank of cash so you can make change. Have quarters, singles, fives, tens, and twenties. A "carpenter's apron" helps you keep the money handy and safe.  

9. Signage is what attracts people. Purchase signs or make large, weatherproof, legible ones. Make them all match to "build your brand." Include one in front of your property. 

10. Try to make your sale itself obvious from the street. If possible and safe, place at least one large item or a table with some things on it near the front of your home.

11. In an urban setting, you might be able to use sidewalk chalk to direct people to your sale, using colorful arrows to show the way.

12. I like to have some music playing in the background. It puts people at ease. Choose music anyone could love, a mix of both relaxing and upbeat. 

13. Price items so people don't have to ask what things cost. Putting a price sticker on the underside of an item makes people pick it up and once they handle an object, the chance of them buying it increases. 

When stickers aren't visible, interested
buyers will still handle the item to see
how it looks and what it costs.

14. Do whatever it takes to keep things at a comfortable height for customers, not on the ground. If you don't have sufficient tables, borrow from friends who have collapsible ones. You can also make temporary tables of milk crates, indoor tables, sawhorses, boards, tailgates, or lawn furniture. 

15. Arrange things in categories -- tools, sporting equipment, kitchen things, lawn and garden stuff, decor, toys, and whatever else you have. Generally, books and clothing do not sell well at these sales.

16. Bundle together small and inexpensive items such as an assortment of flower seed packets, a collection of cheap bracelets, or a few boxes of nuts and bolts and screws. Tie or tape them together or place them in a plastic bag.   

17. Realize that people will arrive early. Be prepared. The first arrivals are usually the most serious buyers. 

18. Decide ahead of time what currency you will accept -- cash only, or checks and online apps like Venmo?  

19. Know the retail value of any high-ticket items so you can help people understand what a bargain they are getting. Do your research online before the sale. I don't endorse "make an offer" stickers. Get negotiations rolling with your sticker price. 

20. If your sale is large, have a helper or two so people can get the assistance they need and you're not overwhelmed.

21. If an item is unassembled, such as a daybed frame or an inflatable hot tub, keep a photo on your phone of the way it looks set up to show to anyone who shows interest.

Arrange your things in categories. I bagged a bunch
of assorted drapery trim, curtain rings, hooks,
and tape in one clear bag to appeal to decorators.  

22. If you are selling electric appliances or tools, keep them near an exterior electric outlet or run an extension cord from inside, because people may want to try them. 

23. Keep arranging items so they look neat and accessible. Doing so keeps you on the "sales floor," where you can easily engage with customers. 

24. Unless you know the person, don't promise to hold items for someone who promises to return with the money. Don't let anyone into your home to use the bathroom or try on clothes you are selling. You're not a department store.  

25. Do not sit in a chair and stare at customers. Try to stay on your feet and keep moving. Greet them and small talk if they seem receptive. Some people go to these sales for the enjoyment of socializing, but they also make purchases. 

Some of your offerings may need explanatory
tags to give buyers info on size or usage. 

26. Be friendly and courteous. Some people may be impolite or not speak English, but they all come to find bargains, so treat everyone as a valuable customer. Often these are the ones who spend the most money.

27. Have some bags and boxes available to encourage shoppers to gather more items and simple for them to carry them off after paying you. 

28. Many people will want to negotiate prices. Be flexible, but have a bottom line in your mind. The more items a person wants to buy, the more agreeable to discounts you should be. 

29.Decide when you will reduce prices. Many sellers decide that after 12 noon, everything is half price, for example. 

I find that even though retail pillows seem
to be priced sky-high, people don't want to buy used
pillows no matter how cute or new they are! 

30. Know ahead of time what you will do with what's left.  Research which local charities near you will make pickups and what their schedule and guidelines are.  

It's better not to reclaim leftover belongings once you've decided to sell them. If some of your things are too valuable to donate or toss, explore other avenues for turning them into cash, such as selling them individually online or offering them to family or friends. 

Arranging for a yard sale is hard work. But if you do things according to a schedule and with forethought, it can be both enjoyable and profitable. 

For more tips on how to make it easier and more profitable to sell your home, be sure to download my eBooks for home staging!

Top photo: Country Living Magazine