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Maximize your Craigslist Experience!

Aug 18, 2012 12:00 am

Did you see Bitsy's quick tip this week on Craigslist apps? Here are more ways to maximize your experience buying or selling on Craigslist!

Do your research:
Even before you head over to Craigslist, it's important to be well educated about the item you want to buy or sell. Here is what you should be asking yourself (and Googling!)

Buying -  How much is the new price? What exactly should be included? Are replacement parts easily available if something is missing? Have there been any recalls? (especially important when buying baby gear!)

Selling - Is this a common item that will sell quickly (like an Ikea Malm dresser), or something more unusual? How much are other sellers listing it, or comparable items, for? Which is more important to you - to clear space in your apartment quickly, or to earn a bit of cash? Price accordingly!

It's all in the details: The more you know (or that you provide as a seller), the better it is.

Buying -  Ask specific questions. When did the seller buy it? Did they buy it new or used? Did they register the item (especially important for baby gear)? And very importantly, thoroughly check the item over!! I once bought a stroller, and stupidly didn't take it for a test run. The first time we used it, we discovered that the steering was completely stiff, and it was really hard to turn corners. After a quick Google search, I discovered that the year's model I had bought was notorious for this. To add insult to injury, I also realized that the stroller was missing the baby support pads. I learned a costly lesson that day!

Selling - Describe the item accurately, and in detail, including the model name or number if you know it. List any damage, even minor, and provide pics.  Include a website link to a store description that show the item's price when new. For furniture, include measurements!  Remember to add key words down the bottom, to widen your audience. And make sure you set up a Craigslist account, so all your listings are easily acessible in one place to edit, renew or delete as needed.


Pics: As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words!

Buying - If you can't see all angles of the item, always email the seller and ask for pics in more detail, including close ups. And also make sure you see pics of the actual item, don't settle for stock pics taken from the internet.

Selling - The pics are what's going to sell your item quickly. Take them in good light, from multiple angles, and include close ups of any damage. Remember to clean the item, and move any clutter out of the area, so the picture shows what you want to sell to its best advantage. Include stock pics only if they show a feature of the item that you can't capture in your own photos.


Price: It's got to be right! And of course, only pay by, or accept, cash or Paypal.

Buying:  When bargaining, it's best to do it via email, and not to wait until you get to the person's place.  Sure, the person might still accept a lower price, but the whole experience will go a lot more smoothly (and be infinitely more pleasant) if the price is set before you get there. The exception to that, is if you find the item is significantly different from described - more scratches that what were shown in pics, or missing pieces. This is where having done your research comes in handy! And as I mentioned this last week, if you are purchasing a large item and don't have a car, be sure to factor in the price of getting it home. Sometimes, it works out cheaper to buy something new and have it delivered for free.

Selling: Check what other people are selling the same or comparable items for, so you can price competitively. Build a small cushion into your price, say $5, to let you drop it easily without breaking a sweat. Some people just love to bargain!



Safety: I have been buying and selling stuff through Craigslist for close to 10 years, and everyone I've come into contact with have just been regular people trying to make rent in NYC. However, it is really important to exercise caution - if anything feels off during your email communication, don't pursue the sale.  Always ask for a telephone number, and speak to the buyer/seller before meeting in person. A good way to do that is to call to confirm the meeting, either the night before or in the morning.

Buying: Tell somewhere where you are going, especially if you live alone. Give a friend or family member the address and contact info for the seller. Take a friend with you if you can. Of course, you wouldn't be going if something didn't feel right, but better safe than sorry!

Selling: If you live in an apartment building, don't give your apartment number, just ask the prospective buyer to call you when outside, and meet in the lobby. Never be home alone. If you live in a house, give the cross streets, and ask them to call you when they get to your block. Another alternative when selling small items is to meet in a public place.

Do you have any Craigslist stories to tell? Awesome deals or nightmare experiences? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Craigslist, buying used, selling used, second hand, deals, shopping, baby gear, thrift stores, garage sales

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