Why is used furniture worthless?

When I watch storage wars, finding a room full of furniture is usually considered a complete waste of time. If its antique or detailed, it might be worth a little, but usually far less than that same item retail. On top of that, it can’t be particle board or pressed wood. Recently i went shopping and bought a simple pine table for $160. I could imagine the storage wars people finding it and throwing it on the side as “too modern,” and thus, at best, $20-40.

I have two ideas:

  1. The demand for used furniture is very low, which is why new furniture is so ridiculously expensive and used furniture worthless,


  1. Retail furniture is vastly overpriced, and possibly 500% or more marked up over the actual value.
  1. The supply of used furniture is staggeringly huge.

I see things on Craigslist Free page that cost $100 at Ikea all the time, and I’m not talking particle board–futon frames with a new pad are just being given away, because it’s not worth trying to sell them.

A lot of furniture is poorly built, so by the time it becomes used it is in bad shape.

Examples of some retail prices ive seen recently:

  1. Grandfather clock: 3k new, 300 used.
  2. Dresser: 1.6k new cheap wood, 600 used good wood
  3. Bed frame: 1.2k new, 100-200 used on the show
  4. Glass curio case: 600-1.5k new, 200 used.

Re: pastense: ignoring pressed wood or particle board, where at least the retail price is not outrageous.

You can get quality used furniture for pennies on the dollar via thrift stores, yard sales, estate sales and other re-sellers. You can also get lots of good furniture practically for free if if you will only haul it away. This volume of cheap supply tends to depress the used furniture supply/demand price curve.

Yeah, it’s the pennies on the dollar that gets me. Is the real value of furniture really low? Is a 3000$ dresser worthless the second its out of the store? If so, why is it 3000 if the only difference is new or used, given that the quality is the same either way?

Most people treat their furniture like a rented mule. Do you have any idea what people do to a rented mule? It’s not pretty I can tell you that much.

Because unwanted furniture is a giant hassle. People generally don’t have the space to store it and don’t want to go through the trouble of getting “fair market price” for it. This goes double if people are moving.

Furniture is valuable when it’s useful. When it isn’t any more, it’s just annoying junk that takes up a shit-ton of space no matter what kind of wood it’s made out of.

In other words, “I just want this shit out of here!”

I tried to hold on to my furniture by putting it in storage-big mistake - it cost me a lot and I lost it anyway

Another thing is, most people buy furniture to fit in with some look/color scheme that they are trying to build. That’s why you can go look at a new sofa, and find 40 alternate materials for it. What are the chances that the purple paisley covered sofa, 98" long, with a recliner at each end, is the piece I really want? Maybe I only have 80" of wall space, or I hate the recliners, or your purple paisley clashes with the green stripes I already have in the room.

Lots of people want new, and I agree about the desire for coordinated furniture. People are very weird about throwing stuff out. When my son-in-law was moving into his law office the company upstairs was throwing out all their furniture. The guys who were dismantling it were outrages. They took some and they let him take a beautiful big table - which he just sold for $1K.

And if it passes the test of time it becomes antiques and worth a lot. The ugly chairs we sit in at dinner are about 200 years old and worth a good bit.

Used furniture smells bad.

This. A big part of what you pay for when you buy new is the ability to chose exactly what you want–something that matters when you are going to be using a piece of furniture for decades.

Yep, moving really changes your opinion on the value of furniture. It’s bulky and heavy, and unless the item is an absolute dream piece, you might be inspired to chuck it.

My husband and I are dealing with this right now. Years ago, a friend of my father-in-law was selling his house (hundreds of miles away), and FIL was trying to pressure us to pay the guy $1000 for this big bedroom set and then move it to our place. We said no, because we didn’t want it. Soon enough, it became “please take it” and we ended up with a full bedroom set, including an armoire-turned-china cabinet that almost crushed my husband’s foot when they were trying to move it inside and it was set down, and a king-sized headboard that’s been in the basement all this time because we have a queen-sized bed.

Now we’ll be moving within months and we’re saddled with this heavy-as-hell stuff. Considering the house we’re leaving will be a teardown, we’re considering the merits of just leaving it behind.

It seems to me that used furniture is worthless if you are selling it but worth plenty if you want to buy it. In fact furniture seems to be one of the few things that isn’t getting cheaper.

Not so. The advent of compressed wood fibre boards vastly reduced the cost of furniture over the last 40 years. You can buy mahogany veneer tables etc etc for a fraction of the price of real mahogany.

My parents saved up and eventually purchased a heavy sprung lounge suite in the 1950s. It cost the equivalent of $7000. A leather suite would have been $10,000 and was only for wealthy people. Today leather is common-place and relatively cheap.

I bought a Laz-a-Boy for my father 20 years ago for $700. They are the same price or even less today.

All too true…sigh.

I’ve built up a modest collection of antique furniture because I like solid wood and craftsmanship and maybe as a recognition of pioneering ancestors for whom such items meant so much.

My thoughts were to leave these cherished pieces to my children as indeed did my grandparents. Sadly I’m coming to accept its unrealistic.

It is likely my three children will eventually live far from home and why would they want a walnut piano, a grandfather clock, a 150yr rocking chair? These are not exactly portable items.

On a more positive note others will hopefully value these things in the fullness of time.

The demand for UF has no bearing on the price of new furniture.

The “actual value” of new furniture is whatever people are willing to pay for it. If people, on average, are willing to pay 5 times what you think the actual value is, then the actual value is 5 times what you think it is.

An item is not overpriced if enough people are willing to pay that price.

Maybe so but I don’t mean compared to the 50s. The Laz-a-Boy comparison is more what I mean. Most consumer products I have bought over the last 20 years have become far, far cheaper. Not so furniture. A decent desk for my computer used to cost far less than a computer, now it’s the other way around. VCRs used to cost hundreds of dollars, my current DVD player cost $20. Phones, kitchen equipment, household electrical products, cars, any number of things are relatively far cheaper than they used to be.