10 Tips for Buying and Selling on Craigslist

by Mike on March 4, 2011

Yesterday I wrote about my encounter with an Internet scam artist. Fortunately, I’ve didn’t fall for his ploy or countless other ones encountered in the past. I’ve been shopping online for at least the last decade and don’t plan on slowing down. It’s convenient and you can find some great deals. While I’m certainly no less immune to hacks, attacks and scams than the next guy, developing online safety habits increase your chances of being compromised.

craigslistI’ve only recently started using Craigslist (within the past year). Since then I have purchased:

  • Dining room table set and baker’s rack
  • Large dog crate / kennel
  • Misc. puppy supplies
  • Designer purse
  • Electric Fireplace w/mantle and heater


  • Washer & Dryer Set

Gave Away / Curb Alert

  • Entertainment Center

As you can see, I do more buying than selling. My transactions have been pleasant exchanges. Here are a few tips I follow for Craigslist transactions:

1. I use the Craigslist notification app for Android. With this, I am able to set key words for items I am ready to buy and get a notification to my phone as soon as items matching my key words are posted.

2. Before contacting someone about an item, I make sure I have a pickup strategy. Many sellers are trying to unload items ASAP, so they aren’t going to be willing to hold items for 2-3 days while you arrange a pick up.

3. Whenever possible, I meet in a public, well lit place for the exchange. My latest transaction was in a Walgreen’s parking lot.

4. If going to someones home is unavoidable (such as larger items like the dining room set), then take someone with you. Also, let someone else know where you are going.

5. When selling, I avoid pick-ups from my home at all costs. With the washer / dryer set it was unavoidable, so I insisted on my husband being home. In fact, I let him handle the transaction.

6. When selling, do not publish your address in your listing. A city is sufficient. If you live in a larger city, you can be more specific or list the district. Do not give out your address until you have spoken to potential sellers.

7. If you schedule a meeting with someone, be on time. Call in advance .

8. I’ve found negotiations work best over phone / email. Unless the item has an undisclosed flaw that merits a discount, the price is typically agreed before meeting.

9. If posting an item for sell, include pictures. I filter my searches by image only, I’m sure other potential buyers do the same thing.

10. Don’t be THAT GUY:

  • That guy who posts the same article all day to stay at the top
  • That guy that doesn’t delete his listing or mark it as sold
  • That guy with the embellished inaccurate condition description
  • That guy that says he / she will hold an item only to have it sold by the time you arrive

I’ve been fortunate! All my transactions have saved me time and / or money. Like my entertainment center give away. When I was ready to move, I already knew I wasn’t going to take it with me. I set it by the dumpster in my old apartment complex and left. I was contacted a couple days later by the rental agency and was told I would be fined for the removal fee. I asked for a couple days to move the entertainment center myself. I posted a *curb alert* on Craigslist that morning. I went by my old apartment after work on the piece was gone! Someone got a nice entertainment center and I didn’t have to pay a trash removal fee!

What about you?
Do you use Craigslist? Why or why not?
If you have used the service, tell us about your experience in the comments!

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Sell on Craigslist Without Getting Killed
April 1, 2011 at 3:36 am

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Lindy Mint March 4, 2011 at 2:42 pm

I was given a tip to always post the item you’re selling on a Saturday morning or Friday afternoon, because people search Craigslist when they are ready to go out and shop (weekends). This tip has worked pretty well for me.

You’re right that it’s a good idea to have another person with you when the buyer comes to your house. I also try to store the item in the garage so they don’t have to come inside at all. You can never be too safe!


PF Journey March 4, 2011 at 2:47 pm


Thanks for stopping by! I have heard that before ~ great addition to the list. Out of curiosity I looked to see what day of the week I posted on since it sold so quickly (posted at 11am, deal finalized by 2pm, picked up at 4pm). And guess what….it was posted on a Friday!

I also had the washer / dryer in the garage…but that was mostly to make room for the incoming set. However, that is a good practice that I’ll also employ whenever possible!


Sandra March 6, 2011 at 10:36 am

I use eBay a lot but everything on craigslist just seems like a scam to ne. I do go on thhere an look for things but I haven’t purchased anything yet.


Ryan March 12, 2011 at 4:59 pm

I always use a hit counter to see how many people are looking at the ad. They’re pretty helpful because it gives you an idea of how effective your ad is and if you might need to make some changes.

I found a site a while ago called mycraigslistadvisor.com that has a ton of tips and stuff on how to make a really effective ad. I learned how to put a lot of really big pictures in an ad which has helped a ton when I’ve sold stuff.


Mike Moyer August 22, 2011 at 2:19 pm

The best way to avoid scammers on craigslist is to require that email correspondence include a phone number. Otherwise you’ll get on a bunch of email lists.
.-= Mike Moyer´s last blog ..Record Setting Word Count For Postrunner =-.


Marshall August 28, 2011 at 1:05 pm

We have sold and bought on craigslist and it has always been a good experience. Being cautious is important. So getting numbers, and names, and talking to the people on the phone first is a good practice too. It will ease your mind when you have more details about who you are buying or selling an item to.

My most recent purchase was hamster cage, not in the condition I had hoped once I got home, but it was a great buy at $15.00 dollars. We used it for a bit and I ended up going out and buying a different cage instead and the next cage was also purchased on craigslist. Both items came with accessories and I saved a bundle. I think though if you sell items regularly whether on craigslist or ebay having a personal website showing the items helps.
.-= Marshall´s last blog ..Mining Investments =-.


Jenny October 8, 2011 at 3:21 am

I have been on both sides of CL – as an offer and as a wanter. Even if the item is spoken for I say thank you for letting me know. Then if there is a “next time” and the person sees my email again they are friendlier, willing to discount or work with me on pickup. I also like a well worded response.
.-= Jenny´s last blog ..Health and Fitness Facts =-.


Marita Rast April 13, 2012 at 12:39 am

You’ve obviously spent some time on this. Congratulations!


Jen May 23, 2012 at 3:03 am

Great tips Lakita. Craiglist is a great place to buy and sell goods online especially if you’re in US. Just like other classifieds website, a buyer or a seller must be cautious to avoid trouble. This buy and sell website in the Philippines has developed a great system for great buying and selling experience.


Andreas Pallesen July 20, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Genuinely respectable article .. simple and brief.


Olive Delduca August 9, 2012 at 12:29 am

Great write-up truly worth a brand new thumbs upward. Have any some other great inexpensive ideas?


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