All the Craigslist Buying and Selling Tips You’ll Ever Need

I’m thrilled to have written a post with Stacy, an IG-friend of mine turned real-life friend! Stacy has given me everything from career advice to thrifting advice…what more could a girl want? Though she’s a busy mom with a full-time job downtown, Stacy still manages to make time for all things decor through her blog and Etsy shop, which features tons of vintage finds. I also absolutely love how her husband is totally on board with her amazing scores and passion for design (#goals). You can see photos of their gorgeous home on her blog and Insta (and she just bought a house, so I can’t wait to see what she does with the new place, too!).
And now…here’s our massive post about all things Craigslist (and a few of my favorite items that I’ve scored on there over the years)! Whether you’re buying, selling, or just browsing, we have tons of tips to make what may seem like a sketchy online experience feel way more like browsing a high-end boutique (without the crazy prices!). Trust me, there are some serious gems on the site, you just have to do a bit of digging. And if you have any of your own advice to add, we’d love to hear!
Navigate Craigslist - Sarah

Sarah and Stacy here, also known as your resident Craigslist addicts. We’ve put our heads together to come up with a joint blog post where we share our massive list of Craigslist tips, whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or just browse. Happy hunting!

Tips to sell:

-Post clear pictures and a detailed description. Sometimes I have forgotten to take and post measurements and then get tons of questions from interested buyers. It’s easier to anticipate questions like these ahead of time and include this information in the original posting. Be clear about what it is you’re selling–sure, your coffee table is clear or see-through, but is it technically also acrylic or lucite? Does the vintage dresser you’re selling happen to be campaign-style? Do a little research before writing your post–who knows, maybe an item is worth a lot more than you thought, and adding specific words can also help you show up in more searches.

 

At only $65, this antique-looking dresser perfectly fit my vision. Heather Bien
At only $65, this antique-looking dresser perfectly fit my vision.

-It’s better to be honest about an item’s flaws than to hide them. It’s a waste of time for you (not to mention, for the buyer) to schedule a pickup only for the buyer to change their mind because they weren’t aware of a scratch or mark that diminishes the quality of the item. (Obviously, all used furniture has some amount of wear and tear, but if you look at your item and see immediately see anything that stands out as less than perfect, disclose it!). I’ve had instances where I’ve gone out of my way to grab something only to realize that it’s much shabbier than it looked online. I usually have still taken it home with me (I have a hard time saying “no!” in general!), but it can be frustrating.

This bar cart (originally from All Modern) came from CL at a discounted price.
This bar cart (originally from All Modern) came from CL at a discounted price.

-Price items fairly. Even if something is like-new (maybe you took it out of the box and realized it just doesn’t work in your home), still think about offering a discount. Otherwise, why would a buyer have incentive to purchase it from you rather than directly from the retailer? Prices don’t necessarily need to be garage sale low, but they shouldn’t scream boutique furniture store, either. Pricing items to sell is the key to getting them out of your house, fast!

-Remove sentimentality from the equation. I’m sure your great grandmother was the sweetest woman on earth and obviously she had great taste because I’m interested in her table! But, don’t price with your heart – price with your head. If an item is really that special to you, perhaps you should consider holding on to it for a few more years until you are ready to part with it.

Tips to Search:

-Look up style terms for things you may be interested in purchasing. If you are a fan of mid-century modern furniture, then terms such as “MCM” and “mid-century” may give you desired results. If you know even more specifically what you want, then look up terms like “Parsons” or even a designer like “Baughman,” or “Baughman-style,” if you are okay with the item being a reproduction.

Searching "lucite" allowed me to snag this pair of gorgeous end tables for just $50!
Searching “lucite” allowed me to snag this pair of gorgeous end tables for just $50! The gold trunk was more of a splurge at $100 but worth it given how much vintage brass ones go for on other sites.

-Not sure what you want? Then describe the piece in your search terms, such as “oak table” or “fabric sofa.” Make sure you use all combinations of words. For this example you may also want to search “fabric couch.”

Ihad been searching for a campaign dresser FOREVER before coming across this one (I snagged it and a smaller piece for only $50 total). After a professional paint job, it looks good as new! Hado Photo
I had been searching for a campaign dresser FOREVER before coming across this one (I snagged it and a smaller piece for only $50 total). After a professional paint job, it looks good as new! Hado Photo

-If you are dead-set on getting a particular type of item, create an account and save your searches. This way you can be alerted via email when new items are added to the site. Be careful, however, if you add terms like “mid century” and save an alert. You may be getting a huge amount of emails as things are listed with that term throughout the day.

-Look for potential in an item. Even if a piece isn’t perfect now, that doesn’t mean it won’t look adorable with a coat of fresh paint and some new hardware. While it is difficult to find a classic piece in pristine condition, a little DIY will go a long way. If something has seen better days but still has good “bones,” use your imagination and think about what it would look like in a new shade or with some modern updates.

My blue dresser used to be an ugly shade of yellow. It was easily transformed using a few coats of spray paint! Hado Photo
My blue dresser used to be an ugly shade of yellow. It was easily transformed using a few coats of spray paint! Hado Photo

-Scroll, scroll, scroll. You can craft the best search in the world only to stumble upon a mid-century gem that was simply described as “dresser.” If you’re feeling patient, just click through current listings page by page, and you might be surprised at what stands out. (Maybe you’ll find something you didn’t even know you needed!).

Tips to purchase: 

-Email/text a seller right away after seeing the posting, as sometimes items can get snagged in a matter of minutes! If you need further information, like clarification on color or measurements, ask away. If you know that you would 100 percent like to purchase an item, say so, and note that you can come by at such and such time (the sooner, the better) and ask if that would work with the seller’s schedule.

This rattan console is a favorite piece of mine. The previous owner had spray painted parts of it gold!
This rattan console is a favorite piece of mine. The previous owner had spray painted parts of it gold! The abstract art is also a Craigslist score. It came framed at a fraction of the original cost.

-Use correct grammar and spelling in your email. I have definitely ignored messages that are less than coherent because they don’t give off the best vibe…you’re a stranger to the seller, after all, so you want to put your best foot forward! Be clear, polite, and succinct, and you’re more than likely to get a prompt response.

This peacock chair is one of my favorite recent finds.

Negotiate price ahead of time. If you are exchanging messages with the seller, make sure to be clear about the price you are seeking. Be reasonable when expecting a bargain.  Shaving off a few bucks is appropriate but asking for half would likely insult the buyer and may end the deal.

-If the seller requests cash only, bring exact change. Don’t expect people to have small bills on them (and worst of all, don’t show up $5 or $10 short and then ask the seller on the spot if they would be willing to take less, unless you spot a major flaw in person). I often ask people in advance if they’re ok using Venmo, especially for larger purchases, but some people may say no. Plan ahead and stop by an ATM en route to picking up your purchase, and I guarantee the seller will thank you!

I love this cane chair that I scored for $30, but I did not love waiting over 30 minutes for the seller to arrive at our meeting spot! Heather Bien
I love this cane chair that I scored for $30, but I did not love waiting over 30 minutes for the seller to arrive at our meeting spot! Heather Bien

-Don’t be late showing up to pick up the item, and if you need to reschedule or are stuck in traffic, contact the seller sooner rather than later. Exchange phone numbers if you haven’t already, assuming the seller is willing.  Respecting other people’s time is always KEY. (Same goes if you’re a seller–if you tell a buyer you’ll be at home or plan to meet them by a shopping center at a particular time, be there!). I once had to wait at the metro station (our designated meeting spot) for over 30 minutes. I debated leaving but reallllly wanted the chair that the person was selling. However, the experience was annoying and left me a little creeped out, especially because the person wasn’t being responsive to my calls or texts for the firsts 20 minutes or so before finally stating that she was on the way.

 

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