You’ve got some Hi-Fi or home cinema kit you’d like to sell, most likely to finance a nice upgrade. But where is best to sell it? How much is it worth? How do I get the best price? Should I post it to Nigeria? (No!) Lots of questions often come up when selling Hi-Fi for the first time. Ultimately you want a quick and smooth sale, that gets you the best price. In these few pages, you’ll find many tips on selling second hand hi fi equipment.
- Step 1: First Steps
- Step 2: Photographing
- Step 3: Pricing
- Step 4: Writing Your Description
- Step 5: Postage and Packaging
- Step 6: Listing Your Ad
- Step 7: Following Up
- Step 8: Completing The Sale
- Step 9: Don’t Get Scammed!
Step 1: Selling Second Hand Hi Fi First Steps
Here are a few key things you should do prior to selling used HiFi or Home Cinema. Follow these to ensure your sale goes well.
- First things first, are you sure you want to sell this item? Ask yourself, whether you’re are doing the right thing. Will this sale be something you’ll regret at a later date? A new piece of kit, may give you a different sound, but is it really better? Give yourself time with your new replacement kit, before selling your old item; the new item may appear better at first, but quickly grow fatiguing. Is the item a rare or limited edition item, that would be difficult to replace, if you wanted to go back to it?
- Inspect the item well, double-check it has no unexpected scratches of damage you weren’t aware of. You don’t want a buyer to find something later and surprise you!
- Give the item a good dusting and clean. A damp cloth is fine in most instances. For greasy fingerprints, add a tiny spot of fairy liquid to the damp cloth. Obviously, be careful and use common sense.
- Hunt down any original boxes, remotes, manuals, documentation etc. You did retain these, didn’t you?
Step 2: Photographing
Photographs are key to selling second hand hi fi; items with tiny, blurry photos invariable sell for less and take longer to sell. These days digital camera’s are cheap and many phones have very good cameras built-in, so there is simply no excuse. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide on producing some good looking photos.
- Clear away any clutter and junk from the photo background, which will detract from the item you’re trying to sell.
- Try to light the item with daylight and use no flash. Naturally lit items always look better. Flash photography tends to cause horrible stark glare and highlights every speck of dust. Energy-saving light bulbs often give pictures a yucky yellow tint.
- When not using a flash, you may need to rest the camera on something or ideally use a tripod, to ensure you don’t get a blurry shot. Use the timer function, to prevent yourself from causing camera wobble as you press the button, and thus producing blurry pictures.
- If the item is very shiny, pay attention to what’s visible in the reflection. Buyers don’t want to see an amateur photographer in his boxer shorts!
- What to take photos of:
- Take a photo of the front, back and of any key features (tonearm, buttons, tweeters/drivers etc).
- If there’s any damage, take close-ups of these, with a coin held up against them, to let buyers gauge size and scale.
- Take a photo of the item turned on and all lit up; both to show its working, and how funky it looks lit up and glowing (valves especially)!
- Take a photo of items with all accessories, boxes and manuals it’ll come with, just to re-enforce the point.
- Take lots of photos, so you have a few to choose from once you see them all on a computer screen.
- After importing the photos to your Mac/PC, crop them to chop out any irrelevant background rubbish. Tinker with the ‘levels’; bring the two endpoints in, to cut out any flat parts of the graph, thus enhancing the photo. Resize the photo, so the largest side is around 1000 pixels. Mac iPhoto or Windows Paint should let you do most of this, otherwise, The Gimp (Win or Mac) is a free download with more features.
- If you want to use the photos on a forum, you’ll probably need to host the image yourself. If you don’t have a website already, then just get a Flickr or Photobucket account and upload the finished photos there.
Step 3: Pricing
Knowing how much to ask for your kit can be difficult and forums are littered with the question: ‘How much is X worth?” Ultimately an item is worth as much as a buyer is willing to pay for it. Ask for too much and your item will remain unsold for some time, yet ask too little and it’ll be gone quickly, but leave you wondering if you cut yourself short.
- See how much others are asking: Do a search for your item on this site and see how much others are asking for it. Take note of how many items the same as yours are currently for sale.
- A more accurate gauge is to see how much similar items actually sold for in past, rather than just how much others asked… Do a search on eBay for completed items, take note of prices on listings that sold and those that didn’t. Also, check the condition and postal options of items that went for a lot or very cheap.
Now you should have a rough idea on what to price your item at, but first, take on board the following considerations:
- Does your item include the original box, manual and accessories? If not, lower your price a spot.
- Does your item have any scuffs, scratches, dents or damage? If so, lower you price realistically.
- Are you willing to source adequate packaging and post the item? If not, then it could take a while to sell and require price reductions to shift. Especially if you live in the middle of nowhere, miles from anyone else!
- Is the second-hand market already flooded with the same or similar items already? If so, you may need to price aggressively to shift it.
- Is your item a limited/special edition, rare or have a cult following. If so, you may be able to demand more. Modded items can also fetch a better price (if the work is reputable).
- Has your item been recently serviced (with documentation to back it up)? If so, this can help bump up its value.
Step 4: Writing Your Description
We’re almost there, you’ve sorted some good looking photos, you’ve got a good idea of the price, now you need to write a good description of the item. The aim here is to entice someone whose half interested and to give an accurate portrayal of its condition.
- Explain what it is! Not everyone will know that a black box called a WidgetyBoo RD450X is actually a power supply specifically designed for use with WidgetyBoo amplifiers.
- List its key feature, e.g. it’s got 6 input, 3 digital outputs and 24bit conversion gubbins. See if you can find a full specification on the manufacturer’s website and link to it or paste it into your description.
- Explain how you used it and how it improved your setup. What will a prospective buyer gain from buying your item?
- See if you can find some online reviews of the item and add links to them. Audio geeks are a fickle bunch and like to follow the herd. If others rave about the item, it can reinforce their decision.
- Detail its condition in depth. Describe every scratch, scuff and ding. If a buyer finds something unexpected on receipt of the item, they’ll likely get disgruntled and things can get very awkward.
- List everything that will come with the item, box, manual, cables etc.
Step 5: Postage and Packaging
Although you’re not posting your item quite yet, now is a good time to get your packaging ready, so you can measure and weigh up your item. Then you can provide an accurate postage quote on your listing. If you just take a guess, you may cut yourself short when you actually come to post the item. Or overestimate, such that buyers think your taking the p*%$ and be put off.
Don’t want to post your item? Understandable, if your item is huge, heavy or extremely delicate. However, this will invariably have an effect on the price you’ll fetch and the time it will take to sell the item. Especially if you live somewhere rural or less densely populated.
Packaging up your item:
- Most couriers have strict terms and condition, relating to how an item should be packaged to ensure you’re eligible to claim in the event of damage in transit. So check these out first
- Items should be double boxed.
- Inside the box, your item should be padded all around, either with polystyrene, bubble wrap, soft chips, even scrunched up new paper works well. Close the lid and shake the box, if stuff moves or rattles, you need more padding!
- Wrap any cables and accessories individually, you don’t want the mains plug scratching the item in transit. You could pop these items in jiffy bags too.
- If the outer box has branding or logos of a high-value item on it, wrap the whole thing in brown paper, in case it goes through the hands of a less trustworthy individual en route.
- When selling used hifi speakers, fix stiff card over the front of speaker cones/tweeters to prevent anything poking them mid-transit.
- For heavy items, wrap some strong tape (Gaffa/Duct tape) around the box a few times, to ensure the top/base of the box doesn’t give out when carried.
- Delicate items like turntables and items with valves need special care when packing. See here for more details (link coming soon).
Who best to post your item with:
- Royal Mail: the default choice and usually the most cost-effective for small items. Use their Price Finder to get a quote.
- Courier: Once you hit the £5-6 mark with Royal Mail, it’s often cheaper to post via a courier. One advantage is they’ll collect the item, but with the cheaper services, you will have to remain home for most or all of the day. Alternatively, many couriers offer a drop off service at local newsagents and corner shops, which are often the cheapest option. Interparcel and Parcel2Go are good brokers who can give you numerous quotes from different companies/services to compare.
Finally, do ensure you take into account insurance for your item. For high-value items, you will almost certainly need to pay for extra cover. In fact, a number of very cheap courier options offer zero insurance by default!
Step 6: Listing Your Ad
Finally, you’re ready to list your item online. But where should you list? Some forums are better for different types of kit and some places incur fees. My advice is to first try listing on sites that are free, then try those that charge, if you have had no luck initially.
- If the item is a turntable or related item, then you should definitely list on the Vinyl Engine forum, which specialises in this gear.
- For high-end stereo gear, Hi-Fi Wigwam and pink fish media are great forums to try.
- If your item is vintage (from the ’60s -’80s), then try Retro Hi-Fi or Audiojumble.
- For home cinema and surround gear, AVForums is a very good forum to try first. Note: This site prohibits items from being listed elsewhere at the same time.
- More general free ad sites to try are Gumtree and Preloved. These, however, tend to be focused on selling within your local area.
- Finally, there’s eBay. Obviously, you’ll incur fees for listing your item and final sale fees if the items sell. However, items tend to get more views and often sell for higher prices than they would otherwise.
Each of these sites has its own rules on how stuff can be sold, how buyer-seller communication is handled etc. They’re all straight forward, so do read up and adhere to them. Otherwise, at best your ad will be deleted, at worst you’ll be banned.
Step 7: Following Up
Now that your ad is live on one or more forums/sites, don’t forget to follow it up.
- Check back regularly for replies, questions or personal messages (PM’s), so you can give a swift reply. Many forums have the option to ‘subscribe’ to a thread so that you can receive instant notification of a reply via email.
- If your item remains unsold on a forum for some time, your message may fall down the listings. As such you may want to add a reply yourself to ‘bump’ it up. Check each forums policy on this practice, many have rules on how often you are allowed to do this.
- If your item is still unsold after several days, perhaps you need to consider a price drop. Try sweetening the deal, throw in some cables or the postage for free.
- Lastly, try posting your ad elsewhere or eBay.