How to Win at Craigslist


CraigslistMost of us have a love-hate relationship with Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. We love a good deal; we don’t love hassle. We love to make a buck on stuff we’re getting rid of, but not when flaky people waste our time. And some of us just can’t figure out how so many ugly couches got to be in the world. 

I can assure you that you can have a stylish home filled with quality things you love—sourced entirely from Craigslist, FB Marketplace, garage sales and consignment stores. I can also tell you that if you buy furniture this way, and then sell it this way, it will feel like you borrowed your furniture when you look at what you paid and what you made.

How to Buy:

  • Be specific and ask questions before you go in person. Know beforehand what dimensions, materials (wood vs particle board, real leather or faux, etc) and condition you want. If those details aren’t listed, ask. If the seller gets annoyed that you’re asking, pass. 
  • Know how to read a listing. If the pictures are terrible and the seller’s description is nondescript, like “nice dresser for sale,” then move on. If the pictures are great and the description is poor, see if you can get more details easily from the seller. When looking at the pictures, look at everything in the photo. Is the place clean? Does this person take care of their things? Would you want to spend any time in this person’s home?
  • Buy quality items that you could sell for at least what you paid. Something you buy may not work out the way you hoped, or you may change your mind after a while.
  • Be patient. This is KEY! I love good design and have furnished three personal homes and many vacation rentals with mostly secondhand furnishings and decor. There’s good stuff out there if you wait. 
  • Be considerate and stick to your word. Set a time with the seller, then be there.

How to Sell: 

  • Take good photos. Clean the item you’re selling, clear away all other belongings from around it unless they’ll enhance your photo, then snap a few angles in good light. Then use your editing app to straighten the photo and maybe brighten it a bit, but keep it true to reality. If that sounds like too much work, then be willing to drop your price. 
  • Write a specific description. Include all the details you’d expect if you were buying a new item online — dimensions, materials, and list any imperfections. And nobody needs to know what you paid for the item… it’s irrelevant! 
  • Look at what similar items are already listed for, and use that to influence your price. I shouldn’t be able to find a better price for the same item NEW, even on a killer sale. 
  • Be available. Post your item on a week that you have a reasonable amount of time available. One of the most frustrating things as a buyer is working with sellers who have small and unrealistic pickup windows. If your schedule doesn’t allow for large time blocks, be willing to do front porch pickup or let a friend handle the transaction for you. 
  • Don’t be creepy. Turn the lights on and have the item near the front door when someone comes to look. Don’t take them into your dark basement bedroom when you’re home alone. 
  • Remember that you are selling on the Used marketplace. Price fairly, don’t list things that should instead be placed in the garbage, and make it easy for people to say YES! 

You can’t totally avoid bad experiences, but you can seriously cut down on them if you follow these steps. We’ve had majority great experiences buying and selling this way, and have saved (and made) thousands of dollars in the meantime! 

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Anna likes to think she’s rooted in the Wild, Wild West, as she was born in California and grew up in Colorado. She married a big-bearded Texan, and together they have a two-year-old daughter and a son due to arrive Summer 2018. She’s an easy crier, particularly when it comes to beautiful stories about people with a lot of heart, a lot of courage or a lot of character. Motherhood has affected her deeply and reinforced the importance of creating a life of intentionality and joy. She and her husband Chris love a good story, a good laugh, and a good song. You can find her on Instagram @annaclonts.