Selling Our Stuff: Study Shows We Might Be Too Attached

fall maple leaves - selling our stuff

“We have started selling our stuff. I thought it would be liberating, and in a way it is. But it’s also triggered a clinginess and nostalgia I hadn’t expected.”

– Lauren at Lateral Movements

When we declutter, it would be nice to get double value, right? More space and some cash. But often we try, and nothing sells, so we just give up. A recent study shows that when selling our stuff, the problem might be overpricing because we’re still too attached.

People tend to overvalue objects just because they own them. Economists call this the “WTA-WTP disparity” – the difference between a seller’s “willingness to accept” and a buyer’s “willingness to pay.”

Researchers from Brigham Young University and the University of Utah discovered that people who are overpricing items are experiencing both physical attachment and loss aversion to that object.

When we’re “too attached,” we see the object as a reflection or extension of ourselves. Loss aversion means we feel the pain of losing an object is greater than the pleasure of gaining it.

The researchers manipulated study subjects so that many of them developed a physical attachment to a mug. The participants were then shown the same mug and asked to name a selling price.

Those who reported developing a unique attachment to the mug asked for much more money ($6.00) than those who did not ($4.77).

Professor Tamara Masters says:

If you find personal attachment or hate to let go of things that become yours, you will struggle to sell them at market value.

Some people get attached to objects and others hate losing objects.

If you have both of these things, you will sell them for much more than buyers in the market think they are worth.

Of course, there’s usually no harm in setting the price too high initially. If the item doesn’t sell at that price, you can always try again at a lower price.

But what if you’re having difficulty lowering the price? These articles offer some helpful suggestions for letting go:

How to let go of parents’ stuff: Sentimental attachments

Letting Go of Sentimental Items

7 Decluttering Tips: How to Release Your Attachment to Your Stuff

If you need some advice on how to set more reasonable prices when selling online or how to better market your decluttered items, check out:

How to Set Prices For Your Stuff When Selling Online

How to Sell Stuff on Craigslist Successfully – 5 Craigslist Selling Tips

Do you have trouble setting a reasonable price for your decluttered items?

I'd love for you to share your ideas and experiences.