Craigslist Etiquette: Tips for buying and selling

Craigslist Etiquette

I’ve been selling stuff on Craigslist forever. I’ve sold tear outs from home renovations, appliances, old toilets, cabinets, housewares and furniture. I feel like over the years I’ve really developed a knack for knowing how to write a post. As much as I’ve sold stuff on craigslist, I’ve also purchased a lot over the years too.

My purchases are mostly vintage furniture for our apartment and for our furniture upcycling projects. Going to strangers homes to buy something from a photo you saw online can be very scary, there’s a lot to consider and so I thought I’d share some tips and general etiquette on how to show up at someone’s home when you purchase and also how to write a typical post.

Buying
You go on Craigslist and find that perfect item. You want to start off by reading the post thoroughly and finding out if it has all the information you need. Does the seller mention their preferred method of contact? Normally it’s email through anonymous craigslist forwarding. You’ll want to email the seller and set up a time to pick up the piece. Here’s a few key tips on how to avoid being a pain when buying.

1. Bring cash. Always bring the exact amount of cash. Asking for change is not appropriate.
2. Bring help. Do not expect the seller will help you carry the item, always bring help.
3. Safety. Do not go alone, unless you want the chance of being murdered….seriously, it happens.
4. Pricing. Do not make low-ball price offers when you arrive, do this via email if you want a deal.
5. Respect. If you can’t make it, call or text well ahead of time, do not be a no-show!

Selling
When you post something for sale on craigslist you’ll want to take into consideration the list I mentioned above, along with some other key factors.

1. Good photos. Take photos of all of your items in good light. I’m not talking in your basement with the light on using a flash. I’m talking, take the piece of furniture outside if you can and take a shot there, or at the very least take the photo in the daytime near a window. Having good photos will really help with the sale. Be sure to take photos from all angles and detailed shots too.
2. Style it. No one wants to see a messy room or strange objects laying about. Take 5 minutes to place some pretty items on or around it. Make the area around it clean and free of objects, so the focus is just on the dresser.
3. Price fairly. Take a look at the going rate for something similar to your item and price accordingly. Use round numbers so buyers can easily make the purchase. Be willing to bring down the price, so in that case, price $10 higher so you can give your buyer the “deal” they’re looking for.
4. Measurements. It’s shocking, but a lot of people forget to provide measurements in their posts. This will make or break if I bother contacting someone, because I need to know if I can fit it in my car.
5. Safety. Always make the sale with a friend or family member, never alone. Don’t hurt your back, if it’s too heavy tell your buyer they will need to bring help.

Here’s an example of a cabinet I posted without styling and another shot with a few objects to bring it to life.
vintage cabinet before and after
By adding a few colourful touches it makes it more personal and the buyer can visualize how to use it. You can also see that the space is clean, bright and free of other items. This is also the only blank wall in my space and the photo is cropped just shy of other furniture pieces making it appear as if it’s in a very open space, so if you think you don’t have the space, think again!
vintage cabinet makeover

Hopefully these tips will help you with your next purchase or sale on craigslist. It’s one of my favorite ways to buy and sell with my local community and I’ve even made a few personal connections along the way! Happy buying and selling!

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