Last week I did a lot of buying and selling on craigslist. I was trying to get a bunch of cheap snowboarding gear, and I thought that I could find some deals on craigslist. I was also a little short on cash, so I thought it was a good time to sell some things of my own while I was at it. Throughout the process, I learned a lot about how to properly use craigslist – mostly through my interactions with craigslist newbies who were far less experienced with the goods and services selling site. So here are a few of the basic tips and tricks to use craigslist properly.
In terms of travelling to meet someone, it is generally up to the buyer to meet the seller. If you don't feel comfortable having strangers come to your house, feel free to pick a neutral place to meet. Buyers are, of course, allowed to request to meet somewhere else as well, but because the item of interest is in the hands of the seller, they typically get priority. So no, I am not going to load a heavy object into my vehicle, drive for 40 minutes to meet you, and then hope that you will actually purchase it. You can come to me, at a time that is convenient for me, and I will sell you my item at a a price that I deem is fair.
Finally, return contact in the same form as it is initiated. I had one guy that I was trying to get a hold of, so I sent him an email, which I didn't get a response, and then I phoned him and left a message, to which I didn't get a response. Eventually I got a text message in return. Not only was the seller lucky that I was using a cell phone, otherwise the text would've been wasted, but if I am emailing you and calling you, after you put your information on craigslist, then it is polite to respond while I am calling you, or if you are unable to answer, then to phone me back (as I left my name and number on the voice mail).
Craigslist Selling Tips
The absolutely most important thing you can do to increase the chances of selling your item and getting a fair price for it, is to provide pictures. When I was looking for things to buy, I would often just scroll through craigslist and scan through the pictures. I am using Chrome which has an extension that shows me all of the craigslist photos without having to click through – there's a similar option for FireFox users as well). It was only when I would search for very specific keywords that I would find items that did not have a picture. Not including pictures lowers the chance that your ad will be seen, and lowers the chance that quality buyers will contact you. You may get emails and phone calls that inquire about the item, but if it isn't what they are looking for, then its wasted time on both ends. A picture will make this less likely to happen. They don't have to be great photos – I took mine with a cellphone and they worked out well enough – craigslist hosts the pictures, so you are going to get a low quality photo in the end anyways. Protip: put high quality images on a site like photobucket or imgur if your item requires high detailed shots to sell, and link to them through the ad.
Finally, if you happen to have multiple buyers interested, then thank your lucky stars and feel free to sell it to the first one that provides the cash. Do not attempt to have a bargaining war, as buyers will simply move on or get frustrated, and make sure you contact everyone who is interested after the item sold. I had one guy agree to meet me at a certain time and location, but never showed, so I assume he sold the item and just never told me.
Craigslist Purchasing Tips
Send out a lot of feelers, and ask a lot of questions. One deal looked too good to be true, but when I asked a bunch of questions I found out that the equipment was 10-15 years old and would be effectively worthless. Even the photos looked good, but it was only after doing some research and asking some questions that I came to that conclusion, and was able to save myself from making a terrible deal. I also wrote a lot of emails to sellers that didn't provide enough information, so that I could see if I could find the “diamond in the rough”. My eventual purchase was from one of these feelers, as the ad didn't have a lot of information and didn't include any pictures.
Craigslist Negotiating Tips
If you are selling, then first search craigslist for what other people are selling the same or similar items for. This should give you a benchmark for how much you should expect to get for your item. If you feel like all those prices are far too low for your item, it is most likely that you should just hold onto it. You may feel like the item has more value because you are emotionally attached to it, so just put it aside and find something else to sell.
Second, make sure your initial price is both reasonable yet slightly above what your bottom line is for selling the item. Recognize that if you put “or best offer” (OBO), you will get a lot of really low offers. Setting your price in this way allows you to have plenty of interest (as the price is fair), but also gives you room to bargain. Everyone wants a deal, so even if you know off 5 or 10 dollars, they will feel like they did a good job negotiating, and will be more likely to purchase the item.
However, if you ask for a discount and the seller says no, either be willing to walk away or pay the full price. In some situations, you may already feel like you are getting a deal, so don't be afraid to simply pay the asking price. It's less hassle for both of you, and if the seller is happy asking for that amount, and you are happy paying for it, then by all means don't try to nickel and dime them just to save a buck or two.