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Stumped with Craigslist? Let me help!
Tips to Navigating the world of Craigslist
Advice from the Pro.
I think it’s safe to call myself a pro, as I have had experience both buying and selling hundreds of things on Craigslist. It is still one of the first places I look when shopping for needed items, and is a great source for earning extra income – by selling things from around the house no longer useful to us.
It is important to look to your safety first, so be sure in all transactions to be wise and take someone with you if possible or arrange a meeting in a public place!
On to the tips….
1. Answer immediately.
Do you want to sell/buy it or not? We live in a fast paced society. Most people don’t have patience to wait around. If you do not respond quickly, they will move on to the next listing.
2. Make it easy to communicate
Everyone has a cell phone these days. Put your number in the listing with the ability to both call and text. It’s safe to enter in the Craigslist listing, you do not need to put it all disjointed in the notes area. (Such as: “Seven2THREE…”) Want to guarantee success? Make phone, email and text all available to your potential customers.
3. Use a lot of key words
Are you selling the old nursery rocker that is collecting dust in the garage? Guess what: everyone calls it something else. Glider, rocker, rocking chair, chair, etc. Be sure to add in all the possible variants of names to the item you are selling. (Sofa, davenport, couch, loveseat, chaise.) The same goes for when you are searching for something. Some post furniture under furniture, but you also may find what you are looking for under antiques, general, household and free.
4. Be lavish with your descriptions…
…because I can guarantee that someone will come up with a question that you had not previously provided an answer for. Sum it up in the title, but use lots of words in your description. Give the color, the dimensions, the age, the many uses, maybe even a link to a new full price cost of whatever you are selling so they can see you are offering it for a considerably lower price.
Go all out here. Is it a vehicle recently overhauled at the mechanic? List each thing done to show your customer how much farther ahead they will be by buying your car. Be personable. People like that. They can relate to the fact that you love your camper and made many memories in it, but have now outgrown it. Don’t add your sob story – “must sell to pay ER bills” – folks will feel too guilty to buy from you and will move on.
5. And extravagant with your pictures
Take a lot of pictures of whatever you are listing. I want pictures of “the front, the back, and the side!” (Any Walter Mitty (Danny Kaye) fans out there?!) Be detailed. Trust me, it will pay off. If someone else is also listing a 1997 4Runner, but only posts one exterior picture, I for one will pay a lot more attention to the listing with the max allowed in pictures, all showing off how they detailed their vehicle and what great shape their old SUV is in.
6. If possible, add “Smoke Free”, “Pet Free” or “Kid Free”
Having a husband with a lung disease, this is insanely important to me when purchasing a used product. No smoky furniture or pet hair filled vehicles for us!
(Note for you neat freak moms out there like myself – did you ever dream your vehicle could get so crumb covered? How do they manage to spill the crackers the day after I finally get it vacuumed?!)
Simply adding these words can make or break the sale for you.
7. Offer Delivery
This could make such a difference in your ability to sell something quickly! The interested party could be a stay at home mom who wants your item but doesn’t want to load up all the kids to go get it, or someone who needs to wait until their spouse is home from work with the only vehicle and/or needing their help to load it up.
Perhaps they are elderly and directions and Craigslist are both confusing to them. Or (if you are selling an oversize item like a dryer) they may not have access to a truck and/or trailer so the ability to just pay you an extra $20 is well worth it for them.
When we lived in Colorado, we simply added that delivery was available for an additional 20 bucks in the Denver metro area if they were willing to pay our asking price for the item. If you are willing to spend the time, your wallet will be a little thicker.
8. Price item higher than what you would like to receive for it
Everyone likes to get a deal, especially someone who is shopping Craigslist. When you list an item for a little more than you hope to get, it gives you the power to dicker with the price.
Once you hone your skill at knowing just how much higher to price it, you will receive the amount you want pretty much every time. Plus, your customer leaves happy because they got a deal. Occasionally you have the interested party who is NOT on a budget, is in a hurry, or hates to dicker and you get more than you anticipated. Fun fun!
9. Barter for the item you want
There is always room for negotiation. ALWAYS. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know. Craigslist is a great place to practice dickering. The worse they can say is no. And sometimes, I’ve been painfully honest with someone (before meeting with them and wasting their time!) and let them know we are a young family on a budget, would they consider $–? However usually I do not barter until I have seen the item. Pictures can be deceiving, and if you previously agree on a price and it looks worse in person you are stuck.
The flip side of that is it may be better than you anticipated and since they have it listed for so long and need it gone they are quick to lower the price. There was a certain piece of furniture that I really wanted and I found EXACTLY what I wanted for about double the price. It was listed for a long time and I called to ask if they were at all negotiable – they immediately said yes they were and lowered the price by HALF right there on the phone!
10. And now for some etiquette:
The things that galled me that I wished I would have had the courage to say to their faces…
-FIRM means FIRM. I know I sound like I am contradicting what I just stated above, but hear me out. If someone has their beloved grandmother’s table in pristine condition listed for $500 FIRM, DO NOT email them and ask if they would sell it for $200. They know the value of the item to them and what they want to receive for it.
Now, if you see a listing that has been live for over 30 days and updated a day ago, you can always shoot a polite note to them with something along the lines of “Hey, I see your table has been listed for some time now. It looks beautiful and would fit my needs, but it is priced a bit higher than my budget allows. If you need to get it moving and decide to lower the price in future please contact me.”
-Don’t waste someone’s time. If you say you are coming, then come. If something comes up, call and cancel! It’s not fair to others for them to plan on someone coming to see their item (and possibly rearrange their schedule) and then they are a no show. This is why many add “first come, first serve” on their listings. Also, don’t come with $20 for a $75 item. Again, you are wasting everyone’s time.
-If you are seeing an item in someone’s home, please remove your shoes. And use the gas station bathroom before you arrive. (I am not making this up! People have asked to use our restroom when there was a gas station a block away.)
-Make it easy for them to see – if possible, put it on the porch. Have your item easily accessible so if they ARE someone who actually shows up they can quickly evaluate it.
-Have exact cash. Take the time to stop at an ATM. Don’t ask if they have change.
I hope this has been helpful for you whether you are a Craigslist veteran or just starting out. Do you have any crazy Craigslist stories/successes/failures?