How to Safely and Effectively Sell Your Stuff on Craigslist
As college students, we tend to accumulate a lot of stuff that we only have use of for a short time, be it textbooks or furniture. Of course everyone wants to get a little extra cash for stuff they no longer need, and thanks to the wonders of the Internet, you now have more options than ever before. While you could turn to eBay, why deal with the hassles of shipping your item, dealing with fraud, or giving away a cut of your earnings? Instead, take advantage of Craig Newark’s free brainchild, and stay local to turn stuff you no longer want or need into cold, hard cash. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or have never sold anything on Craigslist, follow these tips to make the selling process as quick and easy as possible.
1. How Patient are You?
Economics (and more obviously, common sense) tells us that buyers want to buy low and sellers want to sell high. As a seller, the more you list your item for, the harder it’s going to be to find a buyer. Right off the bat, decide your personal preference when it comes to how much money you’ll take vs. how quickly you want to get rid of the item. You can do a quick eBay search to get a rough estimate of the going market price for your item and adjust your listing’s price accordingly depending on how quickly you want to make a sale. Usually, for cheaper items like fans, microwaves, or lamps, I find it best to list on the low end because those items go up on college-area Craigslist sites all the time, so you’d rather make a sale for less than no sale at all. For more expensive items like iPods or laptops, be willing to hold out longer and don’t be surprised if lots of people contact you with ridiculous lowball offers – this is Craigslist after all. If you’re firm on your price, just let people know that in your listing and keep away negotiators.
2. Put Some Effort into your Posts
Would you want to buy from a posting that just said: “ipod for sale $80”? Of course not! I know how lazy we college students can be, but it takes less than five minutes to include some pictures of your item and give a thorough description of 1) the item’s condition, 2) if you’re including any extras, and 3) if you’re open to negotiation or trades. Remember that quality posts attract quality buyers.
3. Refresh your Post ASAP
Most buyers never even look past the first page. If you live in a busy area, your posting will drop off most people’s radars within hours. Craigslist lets your renew your post every 48 hours. Take advantage of the feature, and bump your post to the front of the line as often as you can to get as many eyeballs on your item as possible.
4. Call, Don’t Text
Emails and texts might be great for communicating with classmates and friends who can be expected to be reliable, but Craigslist might be home to the flakiest community of people on the planet. Ask people to call you if they’re serious about actually buying what you’re offering – it requires a lot more gumption and conviction to make a call and speak to someone than it does to send a text or email. Often times, you’ll even get sketchy emails asking you to ship the item in return for payment via PayPal. Ignore these emails and stay local.
5. Be Smart
So you’ve navigated through the mud of Craigslist and finally found a buyer for your item. Now what? When it comes to actually making the exchange, be cautious and remember that you are dealing with strangers. Don’t waste your time, and ask for confirmation that your buyer is actually leaving – I’ve had deals fall through at the last minute before because my buyer just stopped answering the phone. Always meet in a public place with a lot of people around and never at your home. Always bring a friend with you to watch your back and make sure there’s nothing suspicious. Ask them for their name and what they’re wearing so you know whom to find. Finally, use common sense. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is, so wait for something that’s more realistic.
At its worst, Craigslist is full of flaky, unreliable, and just plain creepy people trying to scam you out of your stuff. But if you keep these tips in mind, you’ll screen out most of those folks and experience Craigslist as it was intended to be: a free local marketplace full of great and reasonable people.
Do you have any Craigslist horror stories? What about extra tips not mentioned here? Let us know in the comments!