Today’s Hometown Series begins with one of my favorite ways to sell old stuff, Craigslist. I am sure you have heard of this site, but if you haven’t, check out a local Craigslist in your area. Craigslist allows you to search by city for used or maybe even new items people don’t need or want anymore. Perhaps you’re moving, and you want to get rid of your stuff rather than taking an ad in the newspaper.
I have used Craigslist for years. When I lived on the east coast and made my move to the Midwest, I put up notices on Craigslist with pictures of items I was selling. Almost 99% of the time, I was able to sell my items at the price I asked, and I have sold things from electronics and household items to furniture. I have some tips that may help you to sell your items faster in the sometime tough and competitive Craigslist market.
Ten Best Practices for Selling on Craigslist
1. Provide a way for buyers to contact you. Create an email account or use an alternative email account just for your Craigslist sales. It will help to keep your personal email from getting spammed. (Note: Craigslist now offers a hidden email address that allows potential buyers to contact you without sharing your email address.)
2. Photographs are key. Take several pictures of the item you are planning to sell. Think about the angle of photos from the buyer’s perspective, such as:
– An overview photo
– Side angle
– Top view
– Back view
– Any close ups of scratches, dents, etc.
(Photo Above: Sample side view of a baby stroller listed on Craigslist.)
3. Research current, competitive sale listings. Do your your homework and research current listings on eBay, Craigslist, or other sites. If several people are selling the same item, you may want to consider lowering your asking price a bit to acquire interested buyers.
Another strategy is listing your item at a slightly higher amount so that you can plan for the buyer who might negotiate the price down from your original listing sale price.
4. Detail specs of item. Post as much detail about your product/item that you are selling. If you still have specs of the product, write it down on your sale page of the item. Sure, buyers can look up the item online, but it’s much easier for them to read your ad when you providing detailed information on your listing. Also, be honest about any defects or wear and tear on the item. You can also take a close up photo of any defect/blemish to inform your potential buyers as much as possible.
For example, I recently sold our baby glider and provided estimated dimensions. It helped the buyer to decide if the Boppy pillow she purchased would fit well when sitting down in the glider.
5. If you have the original box, instructional manuals, include them in the sale. Potential buyers like to have all the manuals and originals. I have seen an item I listed sell faster than my competitor sellers because I provided the original box.
6. Don’t include your phone number. Unfortunately, there are scammers and spammers out there. You want to protect your contact information. You can request a Google Phone Number via Google Voice (U.S. only). A Google phone number would then transfer any call received directly to your number. The caller would never know your actual number, which ensures a little more security and privacy.
7. List the item from a Thursday to Sunday. When you are ready to list the item, I usually list it on a Thursday or Friday. More buyers tend to look at Craigslist and are able to meet you over the weekend than during the weekday. If you haven’t sold your item by Sunday or Monday, I recommend taking down your listing and waiting until the next weekend to list your item. If buyers notice that your listing has been up for a few weeks, they tend to negotiate the item for a much lower price.
8. In general, do not negotiate the price of the item before the buyer sees it. When buyers contact you about the item, they may try to negotiate the price over email before seeing the product. If you competitively priced your item, you usually don’t need to negotiate a deal before the buyer sees the product.
9. Optional: Ask the buyer to provide his/her contact number. Once the buyer has demonstrated a genuine interest in the item, and you both agree to meet at a date and time, ask for his/her phone number. Then, if you so choose, feel free to share your contact number. I find that those most interested usually provide their phone numbers with no hesitation. Many times, people may be a no-show, or one of you are running late to meet at the public space. It also helps both parties to contact one another upon arrival.
Additionally, I try not to email my home address. This is why I find that it is important to obtain his/her contact number in the discussion process.
10. Most importantly, if possible, request to meet in public spaces. If the item is small enough to fit in the back of your car or trunk, try to meet the buyer at a public space.
If the item listed on Craigslist is too big, and you agree to meet at your place of residence, you can either:
– ask a friend/loved one to be with you during the potential sale.
– keep your apartment/home door open and brightly lit in the foyer/hallway to ensure that a neighbor can be within visual and/or hearing distance.
Now when selling, there are pros and cons to listing your item(s) on Craigslist. I’ll begin with the positives:
– You get to keep all the profits made from the sale. No seller’s fees to worry about, like eBay.
– You don’t have to have to worry about a shipping a package.
– Bigger items may be easier to sell locally because buyers don’t have to pay for shipping fees.
– You may not get as high of an asking price as you planned or hoped for, depending on how fast and at what price you are willing to sell the item.
– People sometimes are a no-show or don’t follow through with their agreement to meet you.
– You may have to check your alternate email address inbox or have multiple conversations with multiple buyers regarding the same product, which means it will take more time out of your day from doing something else.
– Additionally, if you have to relist your item on Craigslist, that’s more time you have to spend relisting, conversing with potential buyers, meeting with potential buyers, etc.
Recently, I resold our very gently used baby glider. Because it was big-ticket item, I was detailed about the product specifications – the name brand, color, style, functions of the glider, etc. It took more than three weeks to sell the item. Part of it was due to how much I was willing to sell it for versus what the market for used gliders were on Craigslist. Let me just say that there were a ton of gliders on sale in my local area. Some were throw backs from the 1950s/1960s, while a few others were new and unused in the box. The first time I listed the glider, I received good feedback from potential buyers, but they turned out to be no shows. The second time I relisted, a potential buyer wanted to negotiate before even seeing it in person. And by the third try, I just wanted the large monstrosity out the door. She was happy with the purchase, and I was happy to have sold it at a reasonable price. A win-win in my book.
Have you sold items on Craigslist before? What have been some of your experiences? Are there other tips you recommend when selling items on Craigslist?
If you like my blog, I would appreciate a little high-five on Hometown Betty’s Facebook page. Also, remember to come back on Monday, September 30th for my second installment of Hometown Series: Selling Your Old Things on eBay.
There are a ton of excellent resources out there to guide you through a positive sale on Craigslist. Check out two of these sites: