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There are many ways to make extra money in your spare time, but few are as fun as flipping products for a higher return. Unlike flipping houses, adding value to furniture requires little capital, and you can start immediately.
Here’s how to flip furniture for the most profit:
- Find underpriced furniture
- Acquire and upgrade the furniture items
- Sell the products in an online or physical marketplace
This article will teach you how to get the most out of your furniture flipping project with the least effort. Keep reading to learn the must-follow formula for flipping products will be exposed alongside specific directions that get you the best results at each stage.
Flipping: The Basic Formula In 3 Steps
The formula for flipping anything is to source something that is undervalued, add further value to it, and bring it to a place where it is valued right.
The final step is, of course, metaphorical since the advent of the Internet. Today, items can be listed for sale without moving and displaying them in a physical shop. Let’s break down how the basic formula applies to furniture flipping.
1. Find Undervalued Furniture
When things are not sold in a shop, they are priced based on need, not their market value.
Some people need the money, so they sell some of their furniture by pricing it slightly under the market value. Others need to get rid of their excess furniture, and time is a priority.
They price their furniture well under its actual value, and spotting such sales is critical to flipping furniture.
My personal favorite method of furniture to flip is to find it in dumpsters as people often just throw away what they can’t sell.
If you’re just starting out, finding furniture at thrift stores is a great option as there is plenty of room for profit
2. Add Value
This step is optional if you find furniture that is in good condition. Flipping usually entails refurbishing, but it has recently come to represent arbitrage as well.
If you like woodworking, then adding value can be a step you take for fun. Otherwise, just do good work in the previous step, so you have to do nothing here.
3. Bring It to the Market
Since 2016, this step has yielded better results online than in physical spaces. So, if you flip furniture, you should list it in specialized marketplaces as well as broad-base marketplaces like the Facebook Marketplace to maximize your odds of getting the sale.
You should memorize this formula because it consists of the essential structure of the flip-for-cash economy. No one can deviate from it.
And within this formula, the highest valued non-negotiable is finding undervalued furniture. In the absence of undervalued furniture, you’ll have to put in too much effort to make anything move in the market. At that point, flipping becomes a chore and is no fun.
Flipping Furniture – The Full Guide
Step 1: Find Undervalued Furniture – 6 Places To Look
This section will cover the most crucial aspect of flipping furniture: finding the furniture to flip. If you do this right, you can make money even if you do everything else wrong.
But this is also the most effort-intensive stage of flipping furniture. You need to check out different sales within a geographically viable area and keep the operation feasible (given the gas prices!).
Underpriced furniture is available at yard sales and garage sales and, in some instances, at thrift stores. Thrift shops should not be your primary source because they already markup the product prices to gain a profit, leaving behind little room.
Instead, searching “garage sale” alongside your city name can yield better results. You can find out where you can get furniture before it has been price-yanked by a middle-man. What separates the average yard sale is that it is usually done to free up space which can result in many valuable items being significantly underpriced.
You can use this to your advantage if you genuinely don’t want to refurbish, repolish, or improve the furniture you acquire for flipping.
1. Moving Sales
Moving sales are a specific type of yard sale where everything is for sale. Moving sales are common when a family is moving overseas. These are rare, but if you spot one even far away from where you live, they’re worth driving to because of how marked down everything is.
The seller couldn’t be any more motivated to sell. A lot of the furniture in a moving sale can be beaten up and damaged. You should look for high-quality wood and hand-crafted structures to get pieces that will fetch the maximum value.
2. Estate Sales
Estate sales are sales where the physical items in one’s estate are being liquidated for various reasons. If a bank is involved, this becomes an auction. If an individual manages the estate, products are directly priced and can be bought at a predictable cost.
The seller is motivated by cash, which means the chance of getting steeply undervalued items is low. Still, the products are generally underpriced and can be flipped for a higher value if you can afford to hold onto them long enough.
Estate sales will not add as much value to your flipping portfolio as moving and yard sales. But they are still worth checking out. Some websites to look up estate sales are EstateSales.com, EstateSales.net, and EstateSales.org.
3. Thrift Shops
There are few things like thrift store flipping that get my blood going like thrift store flipping. If you’re trying to turn $100 into $1,000 or more, a thrift store is probably the best place to do it.
Most furniture in thrift stores is extremely underpriced as it takes up a bunch of floor space and they just want it gone.
Look for items that are loose that could easily be fixed or vintage items that have flown under the radar.
Now coming to places where you can find products to flip with added effort, our first platform is Craigslist. It works well in some cities and is full of scammers in others.
Exercise caution when using Craigslist. It is better to use craigslist as a garage sale radar instead of finding individual items for sale. There can be plenty of underpriced products on Craigslist, but the sellers often force a negotiation last minute.
5. Facebook Marketplace
Facebook Marketplace is where you will sell furniture when you successfully find and refurbish it. So it is understandable that many sellers on the platform are doing the same thing.
Even the primary owners who are selling their own furniture demand higher prices just because the platform standard is raised by people flipping furniture.
Still, scrolling on Facebook Marketplace saves gas money, and the platform should be in your sourcing portfolio.
According to arbitrage podcasts and hundreds of hours of self-reported experiences, eBay has the worst average in getting undervalued furniture.
eBay is a good enough platform if you are a woodworker who would like to refurbish broken furniture. Bids on broken products are lower, and you can acquire and fix them to sell them right back on eBay.
What To Look for When You Want to Flip Furniture?
There are two ways to go about sourcing furniture:
- One is to buy furniture that sells quickly but gets little return per sale.
- The second is to purchase specialty items that have a particular buyer profile but don’t sell as quickly.
The advantage of quick-selling products is that they can earn you a monthly income. But they also have a drawback: you have to move high volumes.
That means you need to find more products. And that’s not as easy as buying from a hypermarket because you need undervalued stuff.
In contrast, the key benefit of a high-value item is that you need to find fewer units. However, such things are rarer and sell extremely slowly unless you have a buyer lined up.
Upon assessing over 800 furniture flipping accounts across YouTube, forums, and the podcasting sphere, we have found these types of furniture to be the best for flipping:
- China Cabinets – These can be marked up a lot and are often criminally undervalued by the sellers
- Dressers – Anyone moving into any house needs one. These get sold very quickly.
- Coffee/Side/End Tables – These move a little slower but always fetch decent profits.
- Cots (and other baby furniture) – The most undervalued type of furniture is baby furniture. As soon as a baby grows up, it is useless, which depreciates the baby furniture from the seller’s personal perspective. However, products like cots hold enough value for the market.
Step 2: Fix the Furniture (Or Add Value)
Fixing the furniture is a (mostly) mandatory step. Even if a product you have sourced is in halfway fair condition, making slight improvements can directly affect the furniture price.
In furniture flipping, there are two types of value adds: the first is the novice upgrade, and the second is the craftsman upgrade.
Which one you should go for depends on your skillset and the price ceiling of the product. Of course, you won’t repair a broken bed frame if you don’t know how to fix a bed frame.
But even if you knew how to fix a product, you wouldn’t if it took too many hours for the price it can fetch. The price ceiling for furniture is usually 10% below the brand new product’s price. The table below covers the specific repair practices in novice and craftsmen upgrades.
|Novice Upgrades||Craftsman Upgrades|
Easy Novice Upgrades & Repairs
If you have no woodworking experience, you can use furniture flipping as an educational exercise and learn how to make minor repairs. However, woodworking and furniture repair expertise aren’t mandatory for flipping furniture.
Even as a novice or an outsider to woodworking, you can still add value to anything you’ve acquired for flipping. Here’s how:
- Polishing – You don’t need to be a woodworker to polish furniture. You don’t even need to pick up a brush to polish furniture because spray-on furniture polish exists. That said, it would be wiser to choose regular furniture polish because the spray can variety is expensive and contains less polish.
- Bundling – If you acquire a baby cot from one spot and other baby furniture items from yard sales elsewhere, you can bundle them together and markup the overall package. Here the value is primarily in the curation.
- Boxing/Packaging – This is an excellent way to add value. By simply getting a generic box and packaging a product that was previously not boxed, you can add a few dollars to the item’s asking price.
- Repositioning – Finally, you can write a good product description, take professional photos, and make the product look more appealing to fetch a premium price. This is especially useful when you’re buying from Facebook Marketplace and selling right back on the same platform.
Step 3: Bring It to the Market
Finally, you need to bring the furniture you have acquired to the market so that it can be valued fairly and you can earn a profit.
The rule of thumb is to never put anything you sell on a platform or in a position where it will be undervalued. The biggest mistake people make is hoarding furniture in the acquisition stage and then getting desperate and impatient when selling it.
Here are the best places to sell when flipping furniture:
- Facebook Marketplace – Facebook is the biggest social network, and its marketplace has an impressive pull. It has a broad audience, so specialty items might not move at high prices, but it is great for splurge-buys, so anything priced under $500 will sell quickly.
- Poshmark – Specialty items and high-end furniture have a better shot of finding a new buyer on Poshmark. This platform’s customers like to get their second-hand purchases but don’t want to compromise on quality.
- eBay – eBay is set up to favor sellers. With its bidding system, your listings can fetch far more than even you expect. But to avoid the dreaded “0 bids” mark, don’t list the starting price as too high.
- Craigslist – Craigslist here refers to classifieds in general. Any specific website or listing directory that can help you sell an item should be in your furniture flipping portfolio.
- Mercari – Selling on Mercari has never been easier now that they’ve introduced Mercari Local. While I wouldn’t rely on it 100% it’s a great backup platform for resellers.
Bonus Hack: Furniture Flipping With Joint-ventures
One way to ensure that a bulk of the furniture you acquire will be sold is to set yourself up for success by showing up where you are needed the most. As a furniture seller, having direct access to new homeowners and people just moving into a new flat or villa is quite an advantage.
But how do you get this access?
The answer is simple: you start joint ventures with people who already have access. These are either furniture movers or realtors. Real estate agents know when someone is about to move into a house. A mover knows when someone is moving within a specific city. Joint ventures with both can be useful.
A mover can even tell you when someone’s moving out and can help connect you for a discreet firesale of furniture. However, a real estate agent is a far better joint venture partner.
Some agents can pre-place the furniture in the house and let the new owners know that they can keep it for $X if they wish. This tactic can lead to many sales as humans have a loss-avoidance tendency and do not like to lose what they come to see as theirs.
That said, even if a real estate agent is not helping you with every step of the sale, handing out your business card to new home movers can open many doors (no pun intended).
3 Best Practices for Flipping Furniture
The same rules apply when you flip furniture as a side hustle, full-time income, or hobby. You must find what’s undervalued, add to it, and sell it where it is valued fairly. Here are the best practices that help you get good results while following the basic formula.
1. Start Small
Many people who flip furniture end up ordering too many items and then get impatient. This is the worst way to flip any product because haste works against the seller. You should try to flip one or two items before you hold three at a time. Gradual progress trumps massive but fleeting action.
2. Do Not Overprice Anything
Amateurs try to make a month’s worth of profits from a single flip. If you flip furniture, you should be in for the long haul, and that means pricing products fairly. With experience, you’ll learn to mark furniture up further without scaring away prospects.
3. Enjoy the Process!
This step should be called “keep the process enjoyable.” Don’t do anything that adds more stress to your routine than you can take. This goes back to starting small: keep everything manageable!
Furniture Flip Inspiration
If you’re just getting started restoring or fixing furniture then you’ll probably be looking around online for some inspiration. I know I was. Let me give you some advice, don’t get nice vintage pieces and slap some white or gray paint on them.
In a couple of years, someone will be posting about your “upcycled” as they scrape all the paint off and restore it. Repeat after me: thoughtful tasteful mods.
This will make sure your furniture will be appealing to a wide range of people and will go with just about any decor. Not to mention that it will be much more timeless.
So, to save you the runaround, here are a few good examples that I believe any new furniture flipper could figure out how to replicate when looking to add value.
Add Contact Paper On The Inside.
It’s clean, it can add color, and it’s easily removable for someone else in the future.
Leave Part Unrestored
On this piece, the body of the furniture was sanded and stained and the drawers received new hardware. It functions like a new piece of furniture and is repaired enough to look intentionally shabby-chic.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Wood Grain
There is a huge push in the “trendy” sphere against natural wood. If you’re flipping vintage furniture, by all means, show as much well-treated wood as possible.
Learn Some Basic Upholstery Skills
New upholstery on a dining chair or other flat surface is easily within the skill-set of a beginning furniture repairman (or woman).
Don’t Neglect Oil or Stains
A bit of oil or stain on a well-worn piece of furniture can turn it into something that looks old but beloved and well cared for.
Consider Paint Removal
In many cases, removing paint and blessing the natural wood shine (on at least part of the furniture) is just as good as repainting. Plus it saves you the trouble of color matching.
If you need other ideas, try perusing either Reddit or your local sales pages and you’ll see tons of people who have DIYed their furniture, both well and terribly.
Recap: How to Flip Furniture
To flip furniture, you must locate undervalued furniture items (usually at garage sales), add value to them (by repairing, polishing, or repackaging), and take them where they fetch a fair price. You can sell refurbished furniture on Facebook Marketplace, Poshmark, and eBay.
Flipping furniture is a fun and engaging pursuit that can also make you an impressive amount of money. As you get better at it, your profits become fairly predictable, which opens up many possibilities, including quitting your job.
But beware: this journey takes a long time, so you should get started only if you like the challenge.