SOS Mom Saver: Selling on Craigslist

After a cousin posted today in frustration that her items listed on Craigslist didn't sell, I figured it was about time that I post about how to sell on Craigslist.  I don't post only as a seller.  I post as a buyer.  If you understand how the mind of a buyer works, then you can make your item appeal to them...even if it's a little bit out of their price rage.  Well, unless they're me.  Because I'm cheap.  And stubborn.  And will wait nearly forever for the "right" price.  But it will work for a "normal" person.  Which I have been told I'm not.

The MOST often overlooked item when selling on Craigslist is a picture.  People want to see pictures.  Pictures immediately make your listing stand out.  It makes your listing real.  Plus, if you don't include a picture many people won't even SEE your item as Craigslist has the option of ONLY viewing listings with pictures.  

Did you hear that?  If you don't have a picture on your listing, many people (me included) will never even see your post because we filter it out!

When you're selling on Craigslist, what you hope to get for the item will largely determine how detailed your listing needs to be.  If you have a cheap blender that someone can get for $20 at Walmart, then it doesn't really matter if you include great details.  It's a blender that someone will probably be willing to pay you $5 for.  I want to know if it works and I want to see a picture.  End of story.   

If you're selling expensive items, it's very important to list the brand name and as many details as possible. Tell me it's only been in one home so I know it hasn't been damaged in 10 moves.  The more details you give, the more you can get. Most buyers won't take the time to ask questions. If it's not listed, we assume it's not. (i.e.-brand, solid wood, etc.)
The typical Craigslist buyer is expecting to pay no more than 50% of the original retail value unless the item is new and in the box.  I'm specifically speaking of higher-end items here.  For example, if something retails new for $1,000 then I wouldn't pay more than $500 on Craigslist. However, the person who will get the sale from me is the one who has a detailed listing with pictures and is listing it for $475. 
Sometimes, however, items are so available on Craigslist that you won't get but 25%, if that, of original retail value. Which items these are will vary by market. However, things like treadmills usually fall into that category.
Don't list an item for $75 if I can get it new for $80.  You're wasting your time and mine. 

Be creative with your pricing.  Say something retails for $600.  You want to list it for $300.  Instead, list it for $299.  I know that's only a dollar difference, but that's a HUGE difference in the mind of buyers.  That means they're only paying $200 for something instead of $300.  And that makes them feel good.  It's totally psychological.  But if they're going to think that way, why not play to it?

Even better, offer that item for $275.  You'll catch buyers who have a budget of $250...but are really willing to spend a little more.  You should know, though, that this buyer might also try to negotiate with you to stay within their budget.  Usually, they'll still buy if you're willing to meet them halfway.

When you do finally get an inquiry on your item, be wise.  There ARE scammers out there.  Make sure you're talking to a real person and only deal with people who are currently local.  NEVER allow someone to wire you money or give you a check for Craigslist items.  And NEVER send money back to them.  Most transactions through Craigslist should be cash only...and in person with you directly dealing with the buyer who pays you and immediately takes his/her stuff.

Transactions involving large sums of money (such as for a vehicle) should be conducted at the bank where the buyer will be withdrawing his/her check so that they can do so IN FRONT of you.  You should also have the bank notary notarize the title change over and bill of sale at that point.

And speaking of protecting yourself...don't be afraid to meet in a public place if you're at all uncomfortable.  Buyers are used to this in bigger cities.  If you're selling furniture and they must come to your home, have someone else there with you.  Don't be alone when they come.

Be wise and protect yourself!


Mike Lieberman said...

Thanks for these tips. Looking to get rid of stuff on Craigslist and will heed your advice.

Anonymous said...

Great advice! I am one of those people who had no luck on Craigslist the first time so I gave up. With your tips, I'll try again.
Laura (SHS)