Guide to Buying and Selling on Craigslist

by Kate on July 17, 2013

in Frugal Living, Save Money, Simple Living

As a part of my new foray into minimalism, I have been using Craigslist a lot lately. When you start minimizing, you get rid of a lot of excess stuff–why send that stuff to a landfill when someone else could easily get great use out of it, and you could make a little money in the process?  Likewise, since I’ve been preparing for a baby, we’ve needed to buy quite a bit of stuff as well (much to the dismay of my minimalism).  In the process, I’ve learned that using Craigslist really is an art.  Here are a few tips to help you get the most bang for your buck when buying, and get the highest price for an item you’re selling on Craigslist.

Craigslist Buying Tips

1. Don’t Buy the First Item You See:

If you know the item you’re looking for is rare, then disregard this. Otherwise, be patient. If the item you want is common, you’ll most likely find it listed by several people, and several other people will likely be selling it next week.  It will behoove you to get a sense of what price people are offering the item for so you can spot a good deal when it comes up. Wait a week, watch the prices, and then start making offers.

2. Be Relatable to Get a Bargain:

The best way to get a great bargain is to find common ground with the seller. For example, when buying baby items, it’s nice to mention a little personal note when you ask for a price drop (“I’m expecting a baby boy in September, so the blue color is perfect! Any chance you would take $15 for it?”).  People who are selling on Craigslist are generally looking for the best price, yes, but they also want reassurance that you’re not a weirdo. Plus, people like to know their items will be loved the way they loved them–getting a little personal accomplishes this.

3. Search Smart:

When searching for an item, consider all the alternative names it might go by. People who list their stuff on Craigslist are not always experts in making sure you find their item. So consider searching the brand name, related products, nicknames, and even general categories (ie: baby stuff, or iPhone accessories).

4. Bring Only Enough Cash for The Item You’re Going to Buy:

I make a habit of taking out more cash than I know I’ll need, but then I leave all but the cash for the item in my car when I go to grab the item. Craigslist sellers often have several items for sale and will frequently try to up-sell you. If you’re like me and weak to friendly up-selling, it’s just better to be in a position to say “Oh I would, but I only have enough money for the one item.”  Sometimes this works out in your favor and the seller is so desperate to get rid of the item they’ll simply throw it in!

Craigslist Selling Tips

1. Explain Why You’re Selling: 

People who are considering buying your stuff want to know it hasn’t been mistreated, broken, or otherwise ruined.  So if you’re letting something go simply because you no longer have a need for it, explain that.

2. Describe the Item’s Condition and Care in Detail: 

The better you describe the item you’re selling (clear photos help do this too!), the more likely it is to sell. Some items need to be cared for a certain way to preserve their value. If you’ve taken the proper precautions, let your buyers know!  It may sound small, but the extra care you take in describing your items will set you apart from other sellers and garner you more offers.

3. Disclose Any Defects

Don’t try to make your item sound better than it is. Most likely, at the right price, you can find someone who’ll want your item as is. But describing your item as being in “excellent used condition” when it, in fact, has stains or shows wear, will just waste your time (and annoy potential buyers).

4. Ask for 10% More Than You Really Want

People bargain on craigslist. It’s what they do. If the lowest you’ll accept is $200, then ask for $220. When someone inevitably asks you to drop to $200, you’ll still be happy to be getting the price you wanted and your buyer will be grateful and feel like they’ve gotten a deal. Win win!

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*In the spirit of full disclosure, links to products in this post may be affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission if you decide to purchase any of the products I recommend. Know that I only recommend products that I have used and love myself.

*I am not a doctor, a nurse, or any kind of health practitioner. I’m just a gal with a pretty keen intuitive sense, great research abilities, and curiosity that is easily peaked. Please understand that my advice is really just another opinion and it’s for you (and your doctor) to decide the best course for your health and well-being.

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