15 Tips – Buying & Selling On Craigslist

cropped craigslist logo

If you are looking for an easy and rewarding way to buy & sell items on the internet, there is no better option than craigslist. It is the ultimate online garage sale, in my opinion. I have used craigslist for a couple years now – getting rid of unwanted clutter in my home & snatching up treasures. Through much trial and error, I’ve developed a good keen sense on how to successfully buy and sell through craigslist, and I share some of my insights below.


  • Craigslist is best for: I feel like it markets some items very well, and others not so much. Craigslist is great for furniture & technology, but very poor for clothing, household items and books. Ebay or Amazon would be a better fit for searching those items.
  • Use “show images” button: To prevent searching for hours and hours to find what you are looking for, switching on the “show images” button will give you a thumbnail picture of what the item is without having to click into the link. I know when I buy – I am all about the photo and what it looks like. If I’m interested after that point, I will take a peek at the post.
  • Search often: If you get on craigslist once a month, chances are very slim that you will strike gold. If you search often, your chances of finding something worthwhile will increase greatly.
  • Free Section: This is a grab bag of items that people post on. Some have to do with things that people have set outside their home to pick up and they are announcing that here. But some good deals have come out of this section and if you just so happen to live close to the neighborhood where they are posting from, you might get yourself a good deal!
  • Be sure you see pictures of the item: If you are driving to pick up the item, make sure you have gotten a picture of what the item you are buying looks like. Don’t just take the sellers word that its in “great” condition. Its better to look at a picture rather than drive forever away to realize its not what you expected.
  • Always bring exact change: Cash is the most acceptable way to pay for any item on craigslist. Never expect the seller to have change on them. You can always shoot them a text/email before making the pick-up whether they would have change for you (why its important to get contact information – as stated below)
  • Make sure you get the measurements: If its anything big make sure to have the seller measure the piece and measure your vehicle to make sure it will indeed fit. Driving a long distance to figure out in the end it won’t fit isn’t ideal.
  • Contacting the seller directly: A seller doesn’t have to sell just anyone – they get the choice. They don’t have to give it to the first person that gets a hold of them, they have their options. Contacting them directly and having a good first impression is important. Writing a book to the seller isn’t the way to go (trust me – that was me. When I really wanted something – I would let them know.) You need to be straight to the point. Sellers don’t want to read a book. If so – they might disregard the whole email you have sent. You need to just state your name, tell them your interest in the item, what you will pay for it (if not what they are asking for) and when you can pick up the item.
  • Bargaining: The beauty of craigslist – there is no fixed price on any of the items. But, if you really want the item, I would say stick with the price they have. If it is a common item on the site – I would say “hey will you accept this price” and see what they say. More than not, they will go lower on the price for you.
  • Before picking up the item you have bought: Make sure you have a phone number and contact information of who you will be speaking to when you get there. That way if you get lost or they aren’t there when they say they will be, you have someone you can call and check up on their whereabouts. I always bring my gps and have looked at the general area of where I’m going to before I head out the door.
  • Be aware: Be cautious when going to someone else’s house. Have someone go with you, if that makes you feel better. I have done that multiple times, and I feel 10 times better about it in the end. Always bring a phone as well.

Below are two steals I have got off Craigslist – didn’t look as nice before, but I did some painting and made them into some awesome treasures! Perhaps a tutorial in the near future – stay tuned!


  • Photography of what you are trying to sell: Biggest thing I want to stress! The photo you take of the item is the most crucial. If you have more than one angle of the piece, the more likely it is that someone will want to buy it. Showing the flaws is a must as well. It pays to be honest. Staging your items is another big tip. It is more attractive to a buyer to see something that looks well put together in your house.
  • Describing the item: You will want this to be as descriptive as possible. Include your: location, your asking price, dimensions, condition of the item, and when you are available for pickup. Additional information including why you are selling the item and any flaws are highly recommended as well. Craigslist will not only search for a title when someone types in a keyword, but also any keywords in the description. Throwing in as many keywords as you can will definitely help.
  • Time of day to post: I find that weekends are better than weekdays as far as people searching for items on craigslist. I like to post mine in the mid-afternoon to evening. This is typically when people are off work and running around getting errands done for the day. I have the most success at these times
  • Respond as quick as possible to emails: People don’t like to wait to hear back, so responding right away to a buyer will make for the smoothest selling experience. If you have multiple offers tell the lower offers you will only accept asking price. More than likely they will change their minds in a hurry if its something they really want.

Well, there you have it! These are some tips that work for me! I would love to hear any new ideas/thoughts you all have about Craigslist. Happy Thrifty Thursday!

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