Some people find buying and selling on Craigslist to be intimidating. We have done a lot of both buying and selling on Craigslist, so I thought I would give y'all a list of tips that can make it easier and safer for you. Don't be intimidated! My very favorite piece of furniture in our house came from a Craigslist seller. And selling things on Craigslist can be more profitable for you than simply having a garage sale.
Tips for a better selling experience involve several things:
- Give as much information as you can in your listing. When you include measurements, pictures from several angles, background history, etc. it will eliminate a lot of unnecessary emails (or calls and texts) back and forth. Don't make it harder for yourself or the buyer.
- Always include pictures, no matter what you are selling. I personally do not even click on a listing unless it includes a picture. My thought is, "Don't waste my time. Don't make this difficult. Are you hiding something by not listing pictures?" If you aren't tech savvy, get someone to help you with pictures. Another reason to include pictures is that one of the options to view listings is by "thumbnail." No thumbnail picture, then it's not getting viewed.
- Make sure your photos give a good impression. Your photos are your advertising. If the background shows a bunch of trash and a dirty house, people aren't going to want what you're selling.
- Don't list your exact address unless you want strangers knowing your location and possibly dropping in at their convenience to knock on your door. Most people just want to know the area you are in. Find the nearest cross streets and list those instead of your address.
- Don't list your phone number. I know, I know. You might think this is easier. However, it's easier to tell if someone is scamming you by their wording of an email. Also, you can go back and forth anonymously with questions via email, and once you think that you want to meet then you can exchange phone numbers.
- The first thing a legitimate buyer is going to want to do is to work out a price. After all, what is the point of going any further if the price isn't right? You may not agree on a final price until you meet in person, but there should be some sort of inquiry about price in the initial contact from a potential buyer. If someone asks for any other information about your location without asking about a price, proceed with caution. Every single item we've sold on Craigslist has started with an email that asked, "Would you be willing to take $$$ for this?"
- Beware of "Is this still available?" Many scammers make their initial contact with this question. I've often found that they ask this in awkward English, even. Do yourself and other Craigslist users a favor and put in your listing, "I will delete this listing if it is no longer available. I will not respond to questions if this is not available." And then, don't forget to delete the listing if it sells!
- Only accept cash. Period. Never ever, ever deposit money for someone.
- Don't be afraid to follow up with someone. You don't want to pester or be annoying, but there's nothing wrong with sending a follow-up email asking if they're still interested, if they have any questions, or if they want to come by and take a look.
- Don't ask for retail pricing. This is the number one reason why stuff doesn't sell. You're selling used items in a used item forum. Don't ask more than 40% of what you originally paid. With the way couponing works these days, someone can just go buy something new with a coupon rather than overpaying for something used.
- Be prepared to negotiate price. Don't be offended when people want to haggle. It's the culture of selling on Craigslist.
- Consider bartering. If you're selling something on Craigslist at the same time that you're looking to buy something, bartering may be a good option for you.
- Use "tag" words in your listing. Someone may call it a sofa, and another person may call it a couch or a loveseat. Make a list of words (even with common misspellings) at the bottom of your post. For example: couch, sofa, loveseat, love seat, seating, living room, chair.
- Ladies, safety first! Never meet a Craigslist buyer alone. Always make sure someone is there with you. If you're able to, you could even meet in a public location to sell something small. Another idea is to bring the item outside if you're uncomfortable with someone coming inside your home.
- Be honest. If you agree on a price, don't change it when the buyer gets there. We've had someone tell us that something was a certain price for a "lot." But when we arrived they changed what their listing from what it originally said, and it was suddenly that price per each item. $10 for a lot of 20 items and $10 per item are two very different things. Be honest with your location.We've also had someone ask us to call when we got off at a certain exit to get the rest of the directions (years before GPS were common) only to find out that it was an additional 45 minutes after getting off of the highway. Not cool.
Basically this all boils down to: use common sense. I'll give some tips for buying on Craigslist in my next post.