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The 10 Craigslist Commandments for Buyers & Sellers

BUYERS

1. Don’t stand your seller up | If you can no longer make it or change your mind for whatever reason, let your seller know at least a couple of hours beforehand. Don’t leave them waiting around like Meg Ryan à la You’ve Got Mail.

2. Negotiate but don’t low ball | We all like to save money but you don’t want to offend. I’d say don’t go lower than 80% of the asking price.

3. Negotiate before you pickup | Confirm on a price before you meet. The seller decided to meet up with you on the agreement that you would be paying a certain price. Don’t start haggling once you’re face to face with them unless the item is not as described.

4. You’re not guaranteed the item until it’s physically in your hands | One common seller tactic is to arrange multiple pickup times with potential buyers and sell on a “first come, first served” basis. I don’t personally endorse this but it happens. That’s why having a pickup time is not a guaranteed sale. Don’t bet on the item until you physically have it in your hands.

5. Stop asking if the item is available | Most ads are taken off once the item has been sold so asking if the item is available can be redundant. Your initial email should initiate action. Say something like: “Hi there, I’m interested in your floor lamp. I’m available Wednesday evening or all day Thursday for pickup. Please call me at 555-5555”.

6. Email the seller only if you’re serious on purchasing | If you’re undecided about an item, put it on your watchlist and simmer on it a bit before reaching out.

7. Bring exact change | Go to the bank beforehand or buy something at the cornerstore so you don’t rely on your seller breaking a $20 for you.

8. Respect meetup locations | If a seller specifies where they are available to meet, don’t ask them to meet in a different neighbourhood on the other side of town.

9. Test the item first | Make sure the shoes fit or that the weed whacker works before you hand over the cash. You don’t want to buy something you have no use for or doesn’t work altogether.

10. It’s okay to decline | Just like your online dating experience, something that looks nice online doesn’t always look nice in-person. If you’re not feeling an item when you see it, it’s totally fine to walk away from the sale.

 

SELLERS

1. Don’t stand your buyer up | Sellers can be no shows too. If the item has already been sold or you need to cancel the meet up, please let your buyer know.

2. Be realistic about your pricing | You can’t expect to make back 100% of what you paid for 5 years ago. Do some research beforehand and see what similar items are going for.

3. Details, details, details | Give as much information as possible. Specify quantity, condition, tears, stains, defects, original manufacturer, any applicable warranties left on it, material, etc. Always give measurements for furniture.

4. Meet at a public location whenever possible | There are some whackos out there. Protect yourself and the buyer by meeting in a public location. If that’s not possible (meet you at Starbucks with my loveseat?), move the item to your garage or have a friend there with you.

5. Use clear photos | A good photo can be the turning point of a sale. If the photo is too dark or blurry, a potential buyer may move on. Also, multiple photos from different angles are awesome.

6. Once you arrange a meetup time, don’t sell it to someone else | If I called a store to hold an item for me but find out they sold it before I could get there, my P.O. factor would be way high. If you arrange a time to meet a buyer, you’re essentially holding an item for them so hold on to it!

7. Make it presentable | Don’t post a picture of your dresser with old socks hanging out of it. Tidy up the area, wipe down the item and move your cat out of the photo.

8. Take down the ad once the item is sold | It’ll save you from many “Sorry, sold!” emails down the road.

9. Respond to all inquiries | People took the time to email you so the least you can do is write them back. If you have a pickup date scheduled, tell other buyers you’ll let them know if it falls through.

10. Don’t be shy to count the money | Whether intentional or not, you always want to make sure you’re not getting less than the agreed amount. It sucks to realize you’re $20 short when your buyer is long gone so count the money before you part ways. You’re not being suspicious, you’re cautious!

What other advice do you have for sellers and/or buyers on Craigslist?

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19 Comments

  • Reply Jacquie January 28, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    Can this post be published on Craiglist itself?! It can be SO horrific trying to deal with people on there! I’ve never bought anything but I’ve sold a LOT. The worst was trying to sell my car. I’d have to go to where it was parked, take it through a wash, and drive to meet the person. Usually halfway through that process they’d cancel, or just not show up at all.

    I have had a LOT of luck selling things like lulu clothes that no longer fit, Hunter boots I’m tired of, etc.

    Thanks for posting this, I hope a lot of people can learn from it!

    • Reply Christine January 29, 2015 at 9:33 am

      So frustrating! I love that I’ve been able to sell stuff I no longer use on Craigslist but the actual process can be a big pain. The other week I got a nasty FU email from a guy who missed out on an item I was giving away for FREE. There are tons of great buyers and sellers out there but there are also some crazies and flakes.
      Christine recently posted…The 10 Craigslist Commandments for Buyers & SellersMy Profile

  • Reply kay ~ lifestylevoices.com January 29, 2015 at 10:48 am

    These are great tips! We just did a whole lot of selling on Craigs List. We only sold out of our garage. No way were any random people getting into the house. The weird thing is, even though the ads were taken down, we’ve gotten calls down here in Florida. Seriously weird. Our ads said that the sales were for 2 days only and stated those days. I don’t get it. Anyhoo, great tips, Christine! Extremely helpful and detailed. 🙂
    kay ~ lifestylevoices.com recently posted…7 Random Thoughts About Florida’s Space CoastMy Profile

  • Reply Connie @ Savvy With Saving January 29, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    I’ve tried selling a couple things on Craigslist and have had pretty terrible experiences. So now, I’ve kind of sworn off Craigslist and just use eBay.
    And on the flip side, I’m always hesitant to meet people in person, which is why I’ve never bought anything.
    Connie @ Savvy With Saving recently posted…6 Freebies You Should Take Advantage Of At WorkMy Profile

  • Reply Chonce January 29, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    I’ve had all good experiences selling and buying things on CL but you make some great points. As a buyer, testing items before you buy them especially with electronics is super important. As a seller, I actually don’t like when potential buyers try to negotiate the price with me if I’ve already posted a reasonable price for the item. Then again, if someone mentions they will take the best offer in their ad, then it should be find to negotiate.
    Chonce recently posted…January Budget ReviewMy Profile

    • Reply Christine January 30, 2015 at 9:15 am

      Most people will haggle so if I’m posting a fair price I just state that it’s firm.

      My parents bought a dryer through a classified ad once and when they brought it home, the dryer didn’t even turn on. They didn’t test it because the guy had it out on his driveway when they arrived and assured them that it worked. Lesson learned!
      Christine recently posted…The New Generation of Living Paycheque to PaychequersMy Profile

  • Reply Charity December 29, 2015 at 10:24 am

    Actually if the ad is still up, I think it’s pretty fair to assume that the item is still available. The seller should be courteous enough to remove the advertisement so people don’t waste their time responding and getting the dreaded “Sorry, it’s taken.”
    This is assuming you get any reply at all.

    • Reply Christine December 29, 2015 at 10:56 am

      I find most sellers are good at taking their listing down once the item has been sold but a small majority don’t. It’s a bummer when I find something I’m looking for only to find out it was sold weeks ago!

  • Reply Juli March 26, 2016 at 12:36 am

    Today i became so sad, wanted buy a couple of big furnitures from a person, fixed up a time to meet up …he even said he will take $75 as advance while i make arrangements for pickup. I was on my way and was just about to reach his address…in the meantime he texted me that someone stopped by and bought all his stuffs …a total bummer 🙁 i was driving all the way down from the otherside of the town with a 2 year old toddler. I really wonder where these people learn their manners !!

  • Reply Rob Bowe August 12, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    I have lately had experiences where a seller will list an item for a specified price only to find that after I’ve told them I want the item, am told that “they have a pending sale for (more money than the listing said) x dollars more Is this legal? I know it’s not ethical.

    • Reply Christine August 12, 2016 at 3:53 pm

      It’s not illegal but crummy practice. I don’t know why people start bidding wars on their items but I guess it’s worth the hassle if they can get more money.

  • Reply Gary Howell October 13, 2016 at 7:07 pm

    I disagree with Seller tip #6 because of buyer tip #1. Or the fact that buyers do not abide by tip #1. Countless times I’ve had someone tell me they are absolutely serious about buying it, that I should consider it sold. Can I hold it until the following day or until the weekend. I say yes and then they never show up. Meanwhile I turned away a dozen other buyers who expressed interest in my item. No way Jose. First come first serve. I’ve had many times in which I tell the buyer that there are as many as 3 other buyers telling me they’re on their way, but the first one to get here gets it. Funny, however, I’ve never had more than one person show up to actually get it. Furthermore, I can get a feel through the text messaging as to who I want to sell to. The man who says he just got off work and can be here in 30 minutes gets more of my attention then the guy who says he has no car and needs to wait for his girlfriend to come home from work so she can drive him over.

    • Reply Dave May 12, 2017 at 2:27 pm

      Agreed. I can’t stop trying to sell based on a “promise” to buy. I let all buyers know when someone else is interested and it’s first come first serve. I only offer first refusal when I receive a payment to hold. I let other interested buyers know I’m holding it and I’ll contact them if it falls through.

  • Reply Anne December 5, 2016 at 10:33 am

    Not sure if there’s a “commandment” in the following or not: I sometimes see things listed incorrectly on C.L. and offer friendly info to sellers. I don’t “troll” looking for ads to “correct”. I see them because of my search terms. I’m also not a self appointed C.L. ad “cop”. For example, one seller was selling a “1920’s” chair for $50, which had all the hallmarks of being a 17th chair. I let him know. Turns out it was 17th century, worth several hundred dollars, and he thanked me. Another time I explained to someone why her “medieval” portrait was actually 18th century, and she thanked me. Folks have also offered my information that improved my ad or enabled me to connect with the right interested people. Naturally of course, someone will reply rudely and angrily. I assume that there’s no hard and fast Craig’s List rule about NOT offering good information to sellers, but will never understand why info offered in a friendly way is interpreted by someone now and then as being an attack or criticism. Sheesh.

  • Reply Cindy December 14, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    I know this post is a year old, but I have had a terrible experience on Craigslist and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. When I post items for free, stuff moves within hours (duh). But I have tried to sell three pieces of furniture – a solid wood desk with a chair ($75), a settee in pristine condition ($40) and a couch ($75 – it sold when I posted it on Nextdoor). I post lots of photos, give all measurements and even post photos of drawers pulled out for good measure. All I get are people who “come look” and then don’t buy. Nothing has sold on Craigslist. I’m starting to consider adding a note on my ads saying that we’re not interested in people just coming to look. Anyone done that? Or said “sorry, we only arrange meetings for buyers, not shoppers.” ?? What do you do with lookee lous who want to treat your ad like a garage sale?

    • Reply Christine December 15, 2016 at 2:14 pm

      It seems like a work to me for someone to arrange a time to meet, drive there to check out the item, and leave empty handed. I’m not sure why you’ve been having such bad luck! I haven’t used Nextdoor but if you seem to have better luck there, maybe try that instead of CL?

    • Reply Gary Howell December 15, 2016 at 8:30 pm

      One of the things I’ve found, is to not write long paragraphs on Craigslist. People see large blocks of text and don’t want to read it. I write a few short sentences with a line space between each sentence and then just let the photos do the talking. Example:

      Solid wood desk with chair.

      Good condition.

      And that would be my entire ad. That’s it. Too many words and people don’t want to be bothered having to read it all. Also, another thing I do is to start out at a certain price, $X. Then by the time the ad comes up for renewal, if no one has showed any interest I lower the price a little bit. I repeat this until it sells. might take two or three weeks, but they always sell. It can also help to list all related items on one ad. So if i were selling three pieces of furniture such as a desk, settee and couch, I would list them all in one ad so that potential buyers might see one item and then perhaps also want another. It also helps prevent your ads from being ghosted. If you post more than one ad in a given category in less 48 hours, you ads will be ghosted (meaning only you can see them. No one else can). As far as people only coming and looking; I am suspicious and would inquire about your willingness and experience in negotiating. If you are immovable from your listing price, I would expect many people to just look and leave. Lastly, I believe there are some things that won’t sell well on Craigslist. Because C-list is for local sales, if you (as a hypothetical) live in Florida and are listing your old snow skies on Craigslist, (the ones you used while living in Colorado), obviously, no one will want them. Sometimes an item fits such a small niche that there may not be anyone in your area interested and you’ll have to appeal to a wider audience. For example, I once listed a master piece bonsai tree on Craigslist. I listed it for only $500. No one responded to my ad because professional bonsai artists don’t look for bonsai on Craigslist. I later took the same tree to a bonsai auction and it sold for $800. Bonsai artists go to bonsai auctions to find bonsai trees, not craigslist.

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