Flipping Furniture? The Do’s and Dont’s

Chester Karass said, “In business as in life, you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate”. This is true when you flip furniture. Keeping the cost of the furniture pieces as low as possible creates higher margins and is essential to having a successful business.

Though it is possible to find some deals in thrift stores and second hand markets, they are, like you, a for profit enterprise. Therefore, they also seek higher margins. The best deals will come from individuals, who’s motivation is not always just financial. These opportunities will present themselves at events like estate sales, online offerings like Facebook Marketplace, and personal relationships. The following  is some tips to get the best deal and give yourself the opportunity to make higher profit on your flip pieces.

You have 2 ears, 2 eyes, and 1 mouth

The biggest mistake people make in negotiating a purchase is they talk too much. So as a general rule you should look and listen twice as much as you speak. Does the seller seem anxious to sell or is the seller talking about family memories of the furniture piece? Do you see boxes like the seller is moving? Is there equipment and supplies like the seller is doing home renovations? Before you speak, try to find clues to the seller’s motivation. When you are at garage sales and estate sales, walk around and look for the seller,  observe and listen to the interactions. Is the motivation that the seller just needs the items to disappear or do you notice some sentimental attachment to some items. All these interactions will give clues on how you approach your potential negotiation. If you take the time to understand the situation, you can craft a better strategy to get the best deal. When you do speak, ask open ended questions to encourage the seller to do the majority of the talking. Finally, if you do make an offer, be quiet and let the seller respond. Whoever speaks first, usually loses.

You are not the seller

This is the most simple and ignored tip, you are not the seller. Therefore, what motivates you to sell your furniture is not necessarily what motivates another seller. What price you would take is not necessarily what the seller would take. In your mind you may see a dresser and think, “I would never take anything below 100.00.” Meanwhile the seller is thinking, “if I don’t have to see this again and I don’t have to lift it you can have it.” I once received for free a dresser that I had already agreed to pay for simply because I agreed to do all the work to get it to my truck. You are not the seller so do not have any preconceived notions as to what the seller may agree. 

Have A Budget

When you see something you want, have a budget and be disciplined. Do not over pay just to make a deal. Also, when you set a price calculate all the expenses it will take to prepare the piece for sale including your labor. The worst mistake you can make in this business is to get into the habit of overpaying. If you can not get the price you want there is a great trick. 

Bundle Items

So you have completed you due diligence and the price is higher then you want to pay. I will try to bundle it with other items. People may hold firm on a price but throw in some items they do not care about. For example at a sell I hand found a homemade desk and a drop leaf table that I wanted to purchase for no more then 40 dollars for the pair. The owner wanted 40 for the desk. In talking to the owner the desk was built by his father so I did not want to negotiate hard on the price. Instead I noticed to old cabinet doors that I usually get 15 dollars a piece on a quick sale. I also noticed the table he was using to display glassware on was an old Hildebrand end table. The way it was displayed indicated there was no attachment to the table. So I gave him forty for the desk, in turn I got the other four items for 20 dollars. The seller got the price he wanted, and I received three items that sold for more then what I originally was wanting to pay. 

Walk Away

Sometimes you will not get what you want for the price you need. In that case walk away. Richard Branson once said deals are like buses, if you miss one another is coming. Do not overpay. If you can not get the piece for what you want, just walk away. Sometimes the best deal is no deal.


There opportunities to get prices for free. Let people know about you business. You will be surprised how many friends and family members have furniture pieces they want to disappear. Also, at sales be open that this is a business for you and leave cards. There is always leftovers that people just want to be picked up. Finally, there are areas that have a lot of house flipping, college move days, ect so always be watching for curbside treasure. These are great ways to not only get free furniture, but also parts like legs and hardware for future repairs and projects.

With awareness, patience, and pricing discipline you can lower your costs and raise your margins for a successful furniture flipping business.

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