This article originally appeared on the Springs "You're Home Blog."
Thanks to the Internet, you now have more robust resources for buying and selling secondhand items than shoppers' gazettes or grocery store bulletin boards. One of the more familiar and frequently used options is Craigslist. This site features community-specific classified, personal and help-wanted ads along with information about local groups and events.
With spring cleaning on the horizon, this is a good time to sell that old dresser or find a bargain on a new coffee table. These tips from experienced Craigslist users will have you buying and selling like a pro.
- When viewing a category, select the "Thumb" or "Gallery" view. This saves you from endlessly clicking individual listings to see the actual item.
- Broaden your search to include synonyms or related terms for the item you want. For instance, if you're looking for a dresser, try "chest", "armoire", or even the generic "wood furniture". You never know what language a seller will use in his listing.
- On your first email to the seller, keep it simple. Ask if the item is still available and confirm that you will be paying cash. (With rare exceptions, Craigslist is a cash-only operation.) If the ad is still open, you can ask direct questions regarding size, color and other features. A vague request for "more information" will likely be ignored.
- No price is final, even if it's specified in the ad. Don't be afraid to bargain, especially if you've done your homework and determined an average range of prices.
- Whenever possible, arrange to meet in a public place. If you're shopping for large items and you have to go to a specific location, always take a companion and have your cell phone with you.
- Take time to thoroughly examine the item. Craigslist is not Nordstrom, where returns are cheerfully accepted. All sales are final.
- Keep in mind, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."
- Make your ad as descriptive as possible. Not only does it help potential buyers get an accurate sense of your item, it keeps you from wasting time with people just looking to kick the tires.
- While your goal is to sell the item, don't try to hide any damage or imperfections. No one is expecting products in mint condition, and they will tend to trust you more for your honesty.
- Many people won't even consider ads without pictures included. Use them to document negative features as well as highlight positive ones.
- Other sellers often overprice their items to leave room for negotiation, so you can price yours slightly below to be competitive while still getting market value.
- Cash is king. If a buyer offers to pay with check, credit card or anything other than cash, end the discussion immediately. Never hold an item for a promise to buy.