How to Sell Your Stuff at the Right Price

Feeling connected to an object can help you create savings habits, but when it comes to offloading your possessions, you need to release your attachments. A new study from Brigham Young University looked into why online classifieds are overpriced, and found that emotions may be keeping your apartment cluttered.

Marketing researchers melded economics, neuroscience, and psychology to investigate something called the WTA-WTP disparity. It's the gap between what a seller is willing to ask and what the buyer is willing to pay. Most retailers have no emotional relationship with their wares, which helps them move stock at a clip. But not only do informal sellers often experience something physical about their attachment to an item, they're wrestling with loss aversion in their own heads. In other words, if you ask for too much, you may be subconsciously sabotaging yourself.

The study used some neat tricks to demonstrate this. Participants were each given a mug, and researchers used touch to help participants develop a relationship to it. When asked to sell the mug, those who were not manipulated this way offered an average of $4.77, while those who had "bonded" with the mug asked $6.

Interestingly, this is also a problem for entrepreneurs, who often invest their very identities in the product or service they develop. This might explain massively overvalued price points for innovative gadgets or firms.

If you're just trying to get rid of something on Craigslist, however, the BYU researchers urge you not to be afraid to lose that attachment. Look around to see what other people are offering for similar objects, and then make your rational decision to stick to market value.