The Keys to Buying and Selling On Craigslist

by AJ Pettersen · 16 comments

Old chairs

The internet has changed the way business is done. Though selling items used to be performed mostly in person, now anyone can put their items up for sale on the internet. And among those sites, Craigslist is king — if you want to buy or sell something locally, Craigslist is the place to go. Making it work for you can be easy if you follow these tips.

The Buyer

When shopping for something on Craigslist, you’re always looking for the best deal. Typically, the seller is more anxious to sell something than you are to buy it. Use this to your advantage when negotiating with the seller.

Shop around on the site. Determine what you think is a fair price, and try to find something that’s in the ballpark. Once you’ve found the right item, negotiate for the price you want. When I’m shopping on Craigslist, I always look for items with pictures. If someone didn’t take the time to put a picture up, it’s probably a waste of your time.

Also, be aware of scammers on Craigslist. There are a number of people out there who are looking to take advantage of the online shopping world. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. There are steals on Craigslist, but wild offers shouldn’t be followed.

My wife and I are looking for a place to live in a new town, and we decided to see what Craigslist could offer us. While they didn’t have much in terms of apartments or short term leases, we did find a woman who was willing to rent out a couple of rooms in her house. After meeting with her, we’re considering staying at her place. Craigslist offers a wide range of items and options for buyers and renters around the world.

The Seller

If you’re looking to unload items and make some extra money, you should consider selling on Craigslist. Just as it’s a great place to shop for a number of different items, it’s also a great place to post and sell. As the seller, you ought to keep the buyer in mind. The first thing you should do is find comparable items and determine the value. If you want to garner interest quickly, you should slightly under-price your item. Offering certain extras (like free delivery in a certain radius) can also help your item get sold more quickly.

If you’re renting out a house or a room, you should be as honest and forthright as possible. You want the right people to be attracted to your place, so finding someone who understands what you’re looking for is of the utmost importance.

How to Make it Work

Craigslist is a great place to do business with other people on the internet. As the buyer, you need to understand your position of power. You have the ability to negotiate the price you want. As the seller, you’re already earning extra money — so make sure you offer the best price, as well as throw in extra options to entice the buyer.

What has your experience with Craigslist been like? 

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  • Ruth says:

    Craigslist is great for selling items like cars or Sporting equipment but if you are wanting to get rid of clothing or household items, most medium and large areas have “on-line yard sales”through Facebook. Search for your town in the search area and use a keyword like yard sale or bargains. You have to ask to join the group but I find it very secure. You can always meet at a neutral location like a store parking lot. This is especially great for selling kids items. Rule of thumb for real and on-line sales of used items it to expect 1/4 to 1/2 the retail price. Remember the biggest benefit is getting it out of YOUR house!!

  • S says:

    I have sold 22 items including an enormous combination TV entertainment/glass shelved armoire that I never thought someone would buy, but the right family found it and bought it. Items sold included personal care items (Shiatzu machine), cooking items (fish poacher), antiques (bronzed woman’s boot from 1890s, kitchen appliances (ice crusher, mixer), etc. I currently have about 40 items listed. I have met some wonderful people. I have them come to my place. I meet them in the lobby of my condo to “verify” they were okay to come into my unit. I sell for Cash Only. I haven’t had anyone haggle with me on price because I price corrently and I post perfect pictures from every angle. I get compliments and I have never sold anything before now. I have never worked retail. I meet some terrific people. I have two couples coming tomorrow. One for a fax machine and some other electronics.

  • Luke says:

    Have retired and need to get rid of many items. Have sold about a dozen items so far for cheap, but would have just thrown in trash if not for CL. Also, found a good deal on a needed item.

    It is a great website.

  • Anton Ivanov says:

    I’ve used Craigslist many times to sell unwanted items in the past. I found two things that help me sell the quickest – take good, quality pictures of your items and write good headlines/descriptions.

    You pictures should showcase the item in its best light. Don’t just post 1 picture, post several. When writing your headlines and descriptions, be honest, state the condition of the item, list all the features, price and your phone number. Most people wouldn’t even consider an add without those things.

  • But think before you buy. When something is too cheap to be true, you can bet that it is a scam.

  • The key to having a successful transaction on Craigslist is if both parties involved are happy with the transaction. If you are a buying and item and have agreed on a price, do not try and talk the seller down afterwards. If you are a seller and have agreed on a meeting location… do not forget to show up. The best advice would be to treat your buyers or sellers the same way you would want to be treated and you can’t go wrong.

  • Grinch says:

    I have used CL to buy and sell a few things. If you have a listing & don’t get many calls, then re-list the item after about a week. Put your asking price in the ad. Some people will not look at ads without prices. It is very important to tell if you are a non-smoker, have no pets, etc. If someone cares about those things, they may or may not call you to ask. Pictures are a must. CL has a filter to remove ads without pictures when searching. Decide how you want to be contacted. CL offers an anonymous email address that forwards to your email address. If you list your phone number, then don’t be surprised if you get a call at 3 am. Some things can fit into several different categories; for example if you had a shovel to sell, you could list it in Tools, Farm&Garden, Household, and maybe Barter if you’d consider trading it for a hammer. I had an MGB for sale on CL last year. I got a lot of kooky emails and phone calls, everything from a car selling service to a non-profit that wanted me to donate the car to them. It is all part of the CL deal. Just like the ad on TV, there really are people looking for a green AMC Gremlin.

  • Andrea says:

    I have done a lot of selling on CL. For me it has the local option and not have to deal with shipping. However, most people will ask if you will make a deal and it is usually outrageous then expect free delivery to their home. I am selling off a book and dvd collection. There is room to haggle, but I do expect a fair price. Also, when someone pulls the “I only have $15 and promised you $30, will you take it” at the pick up meeting, I just turn around and walk away.

    As a seller, you do have to be very aware of scams.

  • Just be cautious and meet sellers or buyers in a public place with a friend. A young husband and father was murdered for the truck he was selling in Ontario a few weeks ago. He told his wife he was going with the men for a test drive and he never came home.

    • KM says:

      That’s what scares the living daylights out of me when it comes to CL. However, meeting in a public place is tough to do if you are buying or selling things like furniture, which I have not done, but my mom has. I always had my husband with me when meeting people – not sure it would do any good, but two people are still better than one.

  • Jane Cowan says:

    I’ve bought on Craigslist but haven’t sold anything yet. When I do sell some small items, I’m planning on using a secondary email address and accepting payment only in ones and fives.

  • KM says:

    I have only sold on CL, and it seems like you never really get the value for what you sell. I feel like people expect things to be almost free on CL, so it’s hard to sell quality items for what they are worth. Perhaps it’s not the right venue for some things, but it’s hard to beat the viewership.

  • Very informative post giving perspective from both sides of the buy-sell equation. Very much appreciate your insights. I have not sold or bought anything but I may use it to sell my car.

  • We have bought only a few things off of CL, but sell stuff all the time. We have a few things listed now actually. Having pictures are key as well as setting a good price so you can get some interest.

    • jim says:

      John,
      We’re about to become empty nesters and have a lot of stuff we’d like to sell. However, my wife is very leary of going anywhere near craigslist (even tho we had a great experience buying a used car for our son recently). Can you walk me thru the baby steps of doing this in a way that my wife doesn’t need to be bothered with any of it? Thx.

  • Michelle says:

    I look on Craigslist all the time, but have never personally bought or sold anything. I don’t know why!

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