Great pictures and good karma: 8 awesome tips for buying and selling on Craigslist

Guest post by Adrienne

I am trying to do a little redecorating, and, since I have no budget for furniture, I have been making great use out of Craigslist. My plan is to use the money that I earn from the things I sell to purchase some used furniture that will fit my current décor and lifestyle (with two dogs and a toddler, my main requirement is that it has to match the color of dirt).

I’ve picked up quite a few tips over my years using Craigslist. Here are some of my best…

1. If you have a smartphone, install the Craigslist app

It gives you easy access to frequently check listings throughout the day, and you can add you listings right from your phone. I like to scroll through the listings when I have some time to kill, just to see the newly added items. It’s great to do this with the “free” section. We scored a huge bouncy house for free, because we were the second people to email, and the first people backed out. We also scored a 60 gallon fish tank with the fish included. All we had to do we haul it ourselves.

2. Don’t be afraid to barter

One thing I have noticed about many of the items on Craigslist is that they aren’t worth the asking price. Everyone seems to think that their items are worth much more than they really are (myself included at times). Don’t be afraid to wait and see if the price on an item you have your eye on goes down. If it has been listed for a long time and you are interested don’t be afraid to negotiate the price. The longer it’s been on the market the more likely the sellers are likely to get rid of it at a lower price. You can get some fantastic deals on antiques and used furniture.

3. Add a little extra to your selling prices to buffer for bartering

Just like you negotiate prices to buy items, people will negotiate your selling prices. That’s just the way it goes. Add an extra $5 or $10, so that when people try to negotiate with you, you can accept their offer and you will both feel like you got a good deal. Sometimes they don’t want to barter and will just accept your asking price which is even better!

4. You don’t have to accept a lower price on something if you don’t want to

I sold a desk recently and asked $30 for it. The first lady who came to check it out said it wasn’t exactly what she was looking for and would give me $10 for it. I said no. The second guy that came wanted it, but asked if I would take $20 for it. I told him no, and that I had several other people interested (which was true). He paid $30. I sold a table recently and had a few people flake out on me who wanted to come buy it. One girl who emailed me previously asked if it was still available. I told her that I had lots of interest but I would give her dibs because we had been in communication about it. She paid my asking price for it.

5. Take nice pictures

You don’t need to go all out and stage a professional photo shoot with a photographer, but your photos do make the first impression.

6. Be honest with your listings

I sold a white buffet that had two busted legs, and in the listing I clearly stated “the legs in the front are damaged, and you will have to replace or fix them.” When someone came to pick it up, he acted like he had no clue the legs were damaged. I told him it specifically said so in the listing. He ended up taking it anyway, for $10 less than my asking price. If you aren’t upfront about any issues or damage, your buyers are going to be extremely upset when they get home and find them. Plus, it’s bad karma.

7. Deal only in cash

There are some scammers out there, so do not accept checks, money orders, or anything other than cold hard cash.

8. Of course, be safe!

I haven’t had a bad experience with anyone on Craigslist, but I know there are some (literal) horror stories out there. Use common sense. Meet in a public place if possible, or, better yet, in front of the police station! Don’t go to someone’s house alone. And be very cautious about who you invite your home to purchase things.

I want to know your tips for Craiglist shopping, and… what your best Craigslist score?

Comments on Great pictures and good karma: 8 awesome tips for buying and selling on Craigslist

  1. I just sold ALL of our furniture on Craigslist before moving into an RV, so I have some tips for buyers, too!
    1. Communicate and show up when you say you will. There were several people I was going to sell to that just weren’t reliable. There were a few people who I couldn’t get a straight answer from so I told them nevermind- it wasn’t worth the time they were wasting.
    2. If you have seen pictures, know the (accurate) condition of whatever you are buying, and have agreed on a price beforehand, don’t change your mind and offer a lower price once you arrive (unless there is something different, like the condition of the piece is not as advertised). If you haven’t agreed on a price beforehand, that’s fine, but honor your word if you’ve already agreed.
    3. If you are looking for other furniture or whatever, it can’t hurt to ask. Often when people are moving or whatever, they are selling lots of different things. It can’t hurt to ask, “Hey, you aren’t selling a dresser by any chance, are you?”
    4. If it is a large/hard to move item, ask ahead of time if you need help moving it. I was happy to do this, but not all sellers are able to. Similarly, know that you may need to rent or borrow a truck. Most sellers won’t deliver for you (I got this question a LOT), but I suppose it doesn’t hurt to ask.
    5. If you have any neighborhood specific websites, check there, too. I sold a lot of things on “Nextdoor,” which is a social network just for the immediate neighborhood. Some communities have Facebook groups and things like that, too.

  2. For the love of all things holy, if you are listing furniture PLEASE include measurements. If I’m looking for something, I need it to fit a certain space. I will completely disregard listings that do not include this information because it’s not worth my time emailing the seller to get it.

  3. Don’t be discouraged by people flaking out on you. I’ve had a lot of successful transactions on Craigslist, but I’ve also had people not show up, or stop responding after a couple emails. Because, unlike other selling sites, people on CL are not obligated to go through with any sale. It’s not sold until it’s out of your hands.

    Keep your ads current. Remove the ad once it’s sold, or if you have multiple items in one listing, update the listing.

  4. I had great success when I wrote my Craigslist ad from the perspective of the item being sold. Especially when I say things like “Hi. I’m a perfectly working washer and dryer. But I’ve been replaced my a newer model. While that sucks, I get it. But, please come rescue me from the garage. It’s dark and lonely in here. And I miss making clothes clean!”

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