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Whether you’re trying to find a pair of jeans with the perfect fit or a new side table for your living room, investing in certain pieces without being able to first see and touch them in person is tough. But with more and more options becoming available online, buying before seeing or touching is quickly becoming the norm, not the exception. A prime example is luxury consignment shop The RealReal launching a home vertical in late 2016. With their expansion into the home space in mind, we tapped Rati Levesque, Chief Merchant of The RealReal, for advice on how to shop for pre-owned decor online. You’re going to want to bookmark her tips.

You’re probably not going to find the good stuff on Craigslist.

“Buy from a reputable retailer or dealer who is sourcing authenticated products and who will stand behind valuation. If you have a certain piece in mind, educate yourself on what to look for to be sure you are getting the real thing. For example, often product is marked with a stamp or hallmark by the designer or manufacturer.”

Remember you’re buying used, not new, finds.

“Ask for details and specifics around the condition. If buying online, ask for pictures to be sure you are comfortable with its current state. And if buying furniture, consult with furniture repair professional prior to purchase to see if a simple repair is all the piece needs to make it great again! Don’t set your expectations too high, pre-owned items can be well-loved and show signs of age and war, but that’s what can make a piece really special and feel one-of-a-kind.”

Factor the cost of shipping into your initial budget.

“Inquire about the return policy and be sure you feel comfortable with shipping options. Shipping furniture across the country can add up, so be sure to factor that into your total cost.”

Do your homework before you click purchase.

“Inquire about stamps, stickers, or signatures, especially on furniture. You’ll notice a lot of resellers will attribute a piece to a designer regardless of whether it was made by the authorized manufacturer. Distinguishing marks can help to identify the date something was actually made and by whom, which can help determine appropriate market value and quality as well.”

When in doubt, go for it.

“As always, if you love it, buy it. And shop often. The more you browse, the more you learn about your favorite designers or a specific style or era.”

Want more? We have guides to ordering your perfect sofa online and what to pick up off the sidewalk—and what to leave.