Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Avoiding the Craigslist Killer-Part 1

You've seen him (or her). That creepy guy (or girl) mysteriously calling to set up a transaction via a post found on craigslist. He (or her) comes to your house or other meeting location to buy "insert item for sale here" and you wind up.......

Tis the season for spring cleaning. And...what to do with all that stuff? Garage Sale? Ebay? Stop by knot too shabby and ask me if I want to buy it? Believe don't want me to buy your stuff. I will rip you off! And, I mean that in the most sincerest of ways. I don't want to rip you off. But I can't afford to pay more than nearly nothing for anything you have to sell. Sorry...a little harsh?

Whenever someone approaches me to buy one of their furniture pieces, I always ask, "have you given craigslist a try?" Fear not the creepy craigslist killer. If you take simple precautions when selling your items on craigslist, I firmly believe you will experience great success selling your stuff on craigslist.

Here are my tried and true recommendations for selling your stuff on craigslist.

Part One 
Posting Your Item
1. Always include measurements. Serious buyers will want to measure their own space to make sure that what you have to sell will fit. Don't make more work for yourself by having to respond to multiple inquiries asking for specific measurements.
2. Take GOOD pictures.

This picture is fuzzy and the lighting is bad. It doesn't mean you have to "stage" your stuff (but that certainly helps). Just be sure to get close-up pics of the details. Craigslist allows up to four pictures per post...use them!

This is a good picture. It's not staged, but it is a close up of the dresser and the other three pics in the post show details from all different angles. It doesn't leave anything to the imagination.

3. Be realistic about setting your price. The hierarchy of acquiring used goods is as follows:
Trash, garage sale, thrift store, craigslist. And the reality is, thrift stores have gotten so pricey that often times you can find way better deals on craigslist. My point is, don't expect to sell the dining room set that you paid $3,000 for to sell for even half that. Think about what you might get at a yard sale and double or triple that price for a relatively "sell-able" craigslist price.

This set is posted right now for $1,400. Dont' get me wrong. It looks really nice...but $1,400 nice? A more realistic price for a timely sale would be around $400.

I bought this dining set at a yard sale about a year ago and turned it around on craigslist. I started the price at $450 and ended up selling it for $320. It took almost a month to sell it! My point being that craigslist shoppers are looking for hot damn deals! They want nice furniture for cheap...and even then, a savvy CL shopper will often want to negotiate the listed price.

4. Include your desired method of contact. When my husband posts his stuff on craigslist, he firmly believes in the e-mail method. I, however have had terrible luck with coordinating sales via e-mail and recommend direct phone calls or texts. More than 75% of craigslist related texts or calls that I receive turn into sales, whereas less than 5% of the e-mails result in sales. In addition, most craigslist related e-mails that I've received are fishing e-mails...but more on that in Part 2. Case in point, whether you prefer the email method, phone call or texting, write it down in your post. You will be able to pin point serious buyers much quicker.

In Part 2, I will talk about how to avoid the craigslist killer when setting up your transaction!
I'll also share some of my funny and scary interactions with some of which involved a car full of college boys driving out for a beer making kit.

Disclaimer: The pictures that I used were retrieved directly off of posts currently on craigslist. If I used your picture...thank-you! All of the tips I discuss are my own opinion based on my experience over the past few years.


  1. thanks for the timely post. i have yet to sell on CL because of some of the trouble i have heard other sellers encounter. i have bought several items and had a wonderful time. and that dining room set you sold for $320....Wow. somebody got a steal.....which means you must have really scored it cheap. Nice :)

  2. Some great ideas. I have never sold anything on Craig's List but my son sells stuff (and buys stuff) all the time. He is good at it. I didn't know any of the things you listed here- price range, etc. Now go get more deals!!!! xo Diana

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