Craigslist DONT’S


I often mention on here how many great finds I’ve scored on Craigslist while living in DC (including the adorable coffee table shown above!). I’m not sure what it’s like in other areas, but Craigslist here is awesome because DC is full of young, stylish professionals who move frequently and therefore find themselves parting with amazing items from West Elm, CB2, and the like.

However, as much as I love Craigslist, I’ve definitely encountered a few snafus as both a buyer and a seller that I thought I’d share here, both for your entertainment and for future reference!

1) Note that “Curb Alert” literally means just that. A few weeks ago, I wanted to get rid of my round coffee table. It was a great piece (which I had originally purchased on Craigslist!), but it was fairly wobbly and not something I felt comfortable selling as a result. Rather than leaving the table out with the trash (and worrying about whether or not it would get picked up or if my building would receive a ticket), my landlord suggested that I leave it outside with a “free” sign, and we agreed that posting an ad in the “free” section on Craigslist wouldn’t be a bad idea either. I posted a “Curb Alert,” which means that an item is literally sitting on the curb and is available to the first person that stops by to grab it. However, shortly after posting the ad, I received an email from someone asking me to hold the item (answer: no, as the whole reason I put it outside was so that I wouldn’t have to be home and wait for someone to pick it up), and another person emailed and asked when they could come by (answer: whenever you can…if it’s still there, it’s yours!). Eventually the table did get picked up, probably within an hour or so, though I don’t know whether it was due to the Craigslist ad or if someone just stumbled upon it while walking through the neighborhood. Moral of the story: The free section of CL isn’t a bad thing, but understand what “curb alert” means before contacting the seller!

2) Don’t be afraid to make a reasonable offer. The key word here is “reasonable,” and in my opinion, it’s better to do this after emailing back and forth with the seller to express your initial interest. While some people do make an offer right off the bat, I think it’s better to establish your interest than to make an offer and risk a seller telling you that someone already emailed them willing to pay full price. Once you say you like an item and the seller confirms that it’s still available, it’s a much better time to start playing the numbers game. However….in my opinion, there isn’t a huge difference between $70 and $80, but there’s a significant difference between $10 and $20. Most people are not going to go through the trouble of selling something on Craigslist in exchange for $10. Additionally, if an item retails for $50 or more and is already listed at a very fair price point (such as $20), I personally don’t think it’s fair to bargain down. No one wants to make $10 back on what was originally a $50 purchase.

3) Don’t hide the item’s flaws. Craigslist isn’t a dating app! It’s key to expose any flaws beforehand rather than leave a buyer surprised when they show up to your front door. If there are slight scratches or marks on an item, note these (and better yet, include pictures) in your ad. It’s fine to qualify these shortcomings and say something like, “There are a few scratches on the top of the bar cart, but they could easily be covered with a tray.” But don’t blindside your buyer, whether on purpose or by accident!

4) Don’t lead someone on. Again with the dating app metaphors…but seriously, don’t give a buyer the impression that an item is going to them and then later reply that you sold it. This happened to me recently and it was super frustrating. When selling, be courteous and make sure everyone is on the same page. It’s that simple!

What CL tips do you have?

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