I love craigslist. It is an amazing free marketplace to sell and buy things at no cost, but you need to be very, very careful, or it could cost you big time. Here are some tips to help you buy and sell on craigslist without getting burned. For those of you who don’t know about www.craigslist.org, it is a really cool site that allows you to place free classified ads in your city or region.
I have an entire page dedicated to craigslist scams. Check it out for the most up to date information on how people are trying to rip you off, but you can avoid most craigslist scams my following their number one rule:
DEAL LOCALLY WITH FOLKS YOU CAN MEET IN PERSON – follow this one rule and avoid 99% of scam attempts on craigslist.
-Always put pictures of your items. Craigslist allows you to put 4 and you usually should.
-Don’t be afraid to list what’s wrong with your item. Do you really want to wait for someone to show up at your house only to have them leave because you did not disclose something? No! Be honest.
-If the item is small enough, consider driving somewhere public to show the item rather than having someone come to your house.
-If you live in a rural area, consider being willing to show the item in a major city or town. For instance, I live in a rural area 45 minutes from a city. I tell people that I’m willing to deliver the item to that town at a time when I’m already going to be there. This is a win/win. Then I list the item and under location I put both my hometown AND the city.
-IF you are selling something like furniture, don’t forget to list the measurements. If you don’t, you will have a lot of people emailing you and asking for them!
-I am a big plan of listing my price and putting that it is firm and cash only. You do not waste time meeting with someone to sell a $100 item if they have it in their mind that they will be able to get it for $50. Decide what you REALLY want for the item. Price it fair. Price it firm. You will save yourself a lot of headaches. Don’t forget, dealing in cash only will save you from a lot of scams.
-If you list your phone number in an ad and it is either a land line or does not receive text messages, tell people in the ad not to send you text messages. Also, it is wise to specify hours that people can call.
-Check over the item thoroughly before buying it. If it is valuable, consider meeting the seller somewhere of your choosing for an appraisal.
-If you are planning on negotiating the price, do it over the phone before you get there. Don’t drive to someplace thinking you can get a better deal than you can. If when you show up the item is significantly not as described, negotiate for an even lower price.
-Ask very specific questions about the condition of the item BEFORE you leave your house. Then verify this information in person.
-If something doesn’t feel right, be willing to walk away from the deal.
If you have smaller items that are easily shipped that are very collectible or rare, craigslist may not be the place to list them. The big advantage Ebay has with these types of items is that your exposure is nationwide. (Technically it is worldwide, but I strongly recommend that you NEVER sell to someone who asks you to ship outside the US). So, if you have a rare coin or doll, you are not limited to the people in your area. The second reason to use Ebay is if you live in a very rural area where people aren’t willing to drive to see your items.