Buying second-hand appliances is a popular choice in the USA. merely browsing Craigslist, you can see hundreds of washers up for sale in eastern Texas alone. It’s clear that it’s a common option for those just moving into the country or getting an unfurnished flat, because this is a difficult time where you have to splash out on 20+ appliances as well as furniture, so second-hand is all many can afford.
But in the event of having the choice between new and second-hand, which is better? Do second-hand items provide more value, like how a fresh 2019-plate car costs $5,000 less the second it drives out the garage? Or is it a false economy and ends up costing more in repairs and replacing it more often when you look at the long run? Here is a list of pros and cons, and a final verdict at the end.
Pros of buying second-hand
Here are some positive reasons to consider why buying second-hand may be preferable
Buying an appliance second-hand is certainly cheaper. If you consider the scenario of moving into an unfurnished flat, or if an expensive item unexpectedly needs replacing, then there’s always second-hand marketplaces. There are countless washer/dryers up for sale for $100 for example, which will likely be old and have a short life left, but it can be great to tie you over until you’re in a position to buy new. Not to mention freezers for 90% discount compared to a new one in a store.
Another advantage is that you can negotiate the price down. Once you’re in someone’s home, looking at the appliance, offering around 10% under its price tag is usually going to be met with a positive agreement from the seller. People are often impulsive and just want to get rid of their item, so the 10% ‘loss’ is worth it simply so they don’t have to organize anyone else to view it.
May not be used
Just because you’ve found a microwave for sale on Craigslist or eBay, it doesn’t mean it’s second-hand. It may just be new but without a box, for example. There are many scenarios in which an item can be found on a marketplace for cheaper than new, but it really hasn’t been touched. Perhaps it was scratched when in-store and so they have been forced to sell it as “used”, or a factory second.
Cons of buying second-hand
It is certainly less convenient to buy second-hand. Most stores will offer delivery and installation of the product (sometimes free, sometimes for an extra cost). This is a huge weight off your shoulders (literally) because it can be a pain to move without the right trolley equipment and van to hold it. Installation usually needs a professional when it involves certain items, too, which might wind up costing more than the second-hand appliance itself.
Usually, the product will have outlived its warranty and so upon purchase, you have no protection for it. If it breaks tomorrow, which it could, you’re stuffed. The biggest benefit of having a new appliance is that even 18 months down the line and it breaks, a quick phone call is enough to organise a free repair. One way to turn this disadvantage on its head though just purchase your own appliance repair warranty. This means that even a kitchen full of second-hand appliances can be covered, with a technician on-demand and a repair time of 1 to 2 business days.
Purchasing second-hand appliances will mean you have to spend a lot more time in designing your room. Finding items that match is a huge hindrance to your ability to pick up a bargain. It will take a lot more time than finding a set of appliances in a single store that all match. It’s also more difficult to find aesthetically pleasing appliances after they’ve already endured some wear and tear. However, this disadvantage is limited if you prioritize functionality over cosmetics.
Only buy a second-hand item if it has a warranty, or if you have your own home warranty that will cover it. The unknown condition is too difficult to predict, so it might be worth taking along a friend who knows more and asking if the item has been neglected. Not only will this help prevent an early breakdown, but it will be necessary for it to be covered by the warranty (poorly looked after items are denied claims).
It certainly seems like you can get more economic value from purchasing a second-hand item, but is not necessarily old. Old items will use more electricity, too, so buying one that’s a few years old and looks in good condition will be worth the few hundred dollars you might save.