Pro Tips for Buying and Selling on Craigslist

Posted in: I'm Moving, Apartment Life, Home Decorating

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How can I spend less and make more money on Craigslist?

Clearing out your clutter before a big move? Need some cheap, ratty furniture until you can afford the good stuff? Either way,, now 60 million strong, is the place to go.

Check out these tips from Craigslist veterans on scoring big when it comes to buying and selling goods.

If you’re a seller…

Want to get rid of your kid’s outgrown clothes, your cracked iPad, or your beloved ’96 Gemini? Try these tips to get ‘em gone for a good price.

#1 Get snap-happy.

Washington entrepreneur, Scott Anthony Barlow, has sold more than $40,000 worth of goods on Craigslist, and claims that high-quality photos are key to getting noticed.

“You should always have well-lit pictures from different angles for whatever you are selling,” he says.

By default, the photos appearing in your listing will be small. This page provides some simple advice for including a larger image which can generate more interest in your ad.

#2 Stay fresh.

If you want your item to stay at the top of the category lists, you’ll need to delete and re-list the item frequently, if it doesn’t sell right away. You can delete and re-post the same ad after 48 hours, so if your item hasn’t sold within two days, it’s time for a refresher. (Consumer advocate Richard O. Johnson recommends waiting an extra 15 minutes to avoid getting flagged.

#3 Become a keyword master.

Most visitors use Craigslist’s search tool to find items.

“Include lots of variations in your description,” says Claire Vannette, a copywriter from Del Mar, Calif., who has bought and sold many household items on Craigslist.

A buyer might search for an “entertainment cabinet” rather than a “TV stand,” so include both terms in your description. You can use Google’s Keyword Planner to find which related terms are most commonly searched for.

Picture of an Antique Engagement Ring Credit to Lara604

If you’re a buyer…

Whether you’re after an antique engagement ring, or a baby swing (preferably without too many spit-up stains), here’s how to find the best deals.

#1 Never stop searching.

The best items go quickly, so if you’re seeking a particular product, use a free tool like List-Alert. It will notify you via email alerts when new posts that include your search terms go online. Then, contact the seller as quickly as possible so that you don’t miss out.

#2 Learn how to suss out a good deal.

Barlow recently purchased a Mercedes Benz worth almost $10,000 on Craigslist for $4,000. He says,

“After making one phone call, I recognized that it was owned by a woman whose husband had passed away. She had multiple vehicles and no use for it.”

You can often recognize such gold mines even before making a call. Barlow recommends watching for listings with language like “moving soon,” or “OBO” (or best offer) to recognize when there is room to move on a price.

#3 Get the manpower you need.

If a listing requests that you bring a brawny friend and a pick-up truck to move a sofa, confirm that you have muscle on tap before committing to buy the item. If your friends are all wimps, consider hiring hourly moving labor through a moving service like HireAHelper (we’re a little biased). If you’re already getting a great deal, the cost of hiring help shouldn’t hurt your wallet (much).

What’s the best score you’ve ever made on – either buying or selling? Tell me about it in the comments or find me, Daniel Horning, on Google+.



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