When I was shopping for a leather sofa (and well before getting educated on the leather industry), I considered buying a used leather sofa.
My wife and I thought it would be a great idea to find a super expensive, high quality, brand name sofa (like Restoration Hardware) at a bit of a discount.
I shopped on second-hand marketplaces like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace but started to get a little bit disgusted by what I found.
Let's face it, leather is a bit of a different material. It's certainly the most durable of all furniture types, but it can also trap in many kinds of liquids and moisture.
So, after initially considering the purchase of a used leather couch, my constant thoughts about bodily fluids (and even bugs) seeping into the leather seemed to give me pause.
But, that's just me. I have readers asking me quite a bit about different expensive leather brands and if they might indeed consider a used leather sofa at a discount.
Here are my thoughts (and don't let the bodily fluid imagery scare you away):
If you are a budget-conscious consumer, it's certainly something to consider.
If the thought of an expensive, brand name leather sofa (at a more reasonable price) excites you, then, a used leather sofa might be an attractive option.
I know that the FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) crowd is a big believer in shopping frugally and used furniture certainly fits into this mindset.
Buying a used leather sofa can definitely save you some money. An average, new leather sofa of a decent quality typically runs around $2500 to $3000. You might be able to find the same exact sofa, only a few years old for around $1000.
When we consider that the average leather sofa lasts around 20 years, we soon realize that buying a used leather sofa might not be a bad idea after all.
Also, did you know that a brand new leather sofa depreciates by over 30% on average after only one year of use!
A leather sofa purchased for $3000 last year would be worth only $2300, today (based on estimates from Spitwise.com)
I would only purchase a used leather sofa if it is ALMOST new, maybe less than a year old.
You always run into sellers who bought a couch, and it didn't fit their room or décor and didn't feel like returning the sofa, or the return period ended. Those are the ones I would pounce on without any question. A leather sofa that's a few months old and barely used can be cleaned and disinfected with no concerns.
Shoot for the higher-end neighborhoods.
You'll know the higher-priced areas of your vicinity, so if you're on Craigslist. You see a lovely sofa for sale by a seller in a nice part of town; the odds are the leather sofa a)was expensive, b)probably well taken care of, and c)the seller is willing to let go of it for well under the initial cost.
Heck, even scouting these areas in your car could land you a lovely, free leather sofa. Also, be sure to check out your local town Facebook groups. Some even have a 'Nothing For Sale' group in which community members give stuff away for free.
Watch out for bed bugs.
Yes, absent the bodily fluid concerns, bed bugs are a genuine concern, and I've heard of a friend who found a used couch to discover it was infested. I've heard from some frugal-minded consumers online that covering the sofa in black plastic bags and leaving the furniture out in the sun for a day or two can remove any bug issues.
But, again, try to get a pulse on the person you are buying the sofa from. Hate to say it, but the location matters. If you pull up to the seller's house and it is in complete disarray - outside and inside, the odds of a bug infestation are that much higher.
I will note that I would much rather buy a used LEATHER couch, as opposed to a used FABRIC couch.
While leather certainly has a porous nature, a fabric sofa is a hotbed of disgustingness.
What Brands Should I Look Out For?
As I mentioned already- Restoration Hardware, Ethan Allen, Mitchell Gold - Bob Williams, and Bauhaus are all expensive brands. However, the seller often thinks they can get a ridiculous price for their furniture with expensive brands.
So, if you feel like the seller has unrealistic expectations, just move on. Of course, for any of the best leather sofa brands we've covered, if you can find one that's only a year or two old at a reasonable price, it might be well worth your time.
Note, I would probably never buy any leather (or any fabric) sofa over ten years old, and over five years would probably be pushing it unless I was targeting something vintage. That's another story for another day.
What are your thoughts?
Have you ever scored an incredible, used leather sofa on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace?
Let us know in the comments below.