Thinking About a Garage Sale This Spring? Go Online First

By Lifestyle and Budget Consumer Reports

If your late spring weekends included some closet-cleanout time, you may be wondering whether to sell your stuff online or at a garage or yard sale. Whatever you decide, a new pricing tool for used goods called Statricks might help you price your stuff. 

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Statricks aggregates pricing data from online auction sites like Ebay and classified sites like Craigslist on hundreds of thousands of used products, including small appliances, bicycles, boats, cell phonescomputers and accessories, musical instruments, motorcyles, RVs and motor homes, photo and video equipment, sporting goods and video games. Statricks can then tell you the range of prices posted for an individual product, plus the historical price trend. From that, you might better price your goods or time your sale. Or, you might decide to buy something at a point when its price appears to be ebbing.

I looked recently at the sale price for a used Mongoose BMX bike. Statricks told me that the current market price for a second-hand Mongoose BMX is $64, based on data from classifieds throughout the country. A graph of historic prices shows that the Mongoose BMX peaked in July 2012, dropped in the latter part of 2013, and is now on the rise again. Another graph indicates that of 885 classified listings for Mongoose BMX's nationwide, nearly 300 listings have been between $40 and $60. 

Statricks lets you see on one page what's currently for sale on eBay auctions and through local Craigslist classified listings (when such items are available locally). Statricks also suggests related analyses—in this case for the Mongoose Menace, Motivator, Solution, Expert, Fuzz, Fraction, Brawler, Californian, and several others. I'm not a bicycle expert, but the breadth of offerings in this category seemed impressive. 

When sellers posting on eBay and Craigslist don't give many details about the items they're selling, that can affect Statricks' analytics. For instance, Statricks provided current and historical data for "used Ethan Allen desk," but didn't take into account the wide variety, styles and price points of such an item—because the sellers themselves didn't. But users can customize the underlying data—by eliminating listings that aren't similar to the product in question—to create an estimate closer to reality (see Statricks' explanation of its "simple price analytics" report). 

For that function, though, you'll have to register your e-mail with Statricks. Registering also enables Statricks to send you price alerts if, say, you want to buy a Mongoose BMX at $50. Freier says users' contact information is not sold or given to any other entity. That's good, considering our recent research that consumers don't like companies sharing that information

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There were some bugs with Statricks. For instance, in the mountain bike section under "Miele," I found more Miele vacuum cleaners than bikes (check out our Ratings of vacuum cleaners—available to subscribers—to see where Miele stands). And Statricks has a limitation similar to that of Numbeo, another statistics-based pricing tool I reviewed recently. If there aren't a lot of data points behind the statistics, it's hard to draw concrete conclusions. The Mongoose Fraction page, for instance, showed a current market price of $335 and historical price range between $217 and $452, based on only seven sales.

But between that information and the current local price listings, you'll have more to go by than you otherwise would have had. Freier says the Statricks algorithm is also designed to weed out peripherals and accessories with the same name that might affect a product's market or historical price.

In theory, you could use Statricks for reasons other than pricing purchases and sales—such as valuing a donated item. It also could be valuable if your homeowners insurance policy pays only for the depreciated value of your items, not replacement value.

I didn't like that in order to price "high-value" items, Statricks asks you to "unlock" its pricing feature by using Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus to endorse its service. But you can see a lot without unlocking Statricks. And if you don't have a problem with that type of endorsement, you can help yourself to a motherlode of data.

—Tobie Stanger

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