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What's the best way to sell a piano?

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We get lots of questions from real consumers. However, this one is a little different than most. Jane wrote to us because she has a grand piano she needs to sell. She’s had it appraised, so she knows its value, but she wanted to know whether she should try selling it herself, for example on a community message board, or if she should go to a dealer.

Pianos were once a status symbol of the middle class and they could be found in many homes. In 1980, over 250,000 Americans bought a piano, but by 2020 that number dropped to just 20,000. So what to do with a piano you no longer want or need?

Today, many musicians and students are opting for electronic keyboards that take up less room and are often less expensive than a good-quality piano. But there’s still a market for the classics. If your piano is a Yamaha, Steinway, or another recognizable brand, dealers will probably be interested. Of course, the condition of the piano is crucial. Most dealers only want instruments in like-new condition.

Before choosing a dealer, shop around. Find a dealer you trust and who will give you the best price for your piano. This consumer says she has already had the piano appraised, which is a great place to start. But recognize that dealers need to make a profit to stay in business, so they won’t pay as much as a private buyer.

If you decide to sell it privately, you will keep 100% of the selling price, but you’ll need to put in some time and effort. Make sure to cross-list the piano across multiple selling sites or community bulletins, then wait for the offers to roll in. You’ll have to be prepared for potential buyers to come into your home and try out the piano. After all, no one will make that kind of purchase sight unseen.