Craigslist is the number one way to buy and sell used goods – and you can pick up some fabulous bargains – even furnish your entire home with quality furniture at a fraction of the cost. You can find a job, an apartment – anything you’d expect to see in classified ads with the exception of ‘personals’.
Whatever you need, whenever you need it, Craigslist is the place to begin your search. And of course, it’s also a great way to sell off unwanted items.
Here are 10 tips that will help buyers and sellers get the most out of Craigslist.
1. Start searching outside the site
To zero in on what you need, begin with Google’s ‘advanced search’ options. Enter the town where you’d like to find your item as well as the name of the item you’re looking for as well as the name of your local Craigslist site in the relevant fields. Hit search, and bingo! You get to see only the relevant ads in your area.
2. Search on the go
There’s a great selection of Craigslist mobile apps available. Don’t pay for one of these, because there are some super free apps that will help you search Craigslist while you’re on the move.
3. Deep search with free computer apps
For even better hunting, Craigslist Reader, a free download, is incredibly handy. You can even set up notifications so that you’ll know the minute something you need is advertised.
In fact, this app is so thorough that it can get a bit much if you only need one or two items. But it can be extremely useful if you need a whole bunch of things.
4. Use your RSS feeds to your advantage
Instead of constantly checking for updates, you can set up a continuous search. Just set up your search and click the RSS button on the right of the URL. Now you just have to check every now and then.
If your search is urgent, get your RSS results texted to you. Google reader has been discontinued, but there are plenty of free download RSS feed apps to take its place.
5. PadMapper for house or apartment hunters
PadMapper will save the time you usually would have spent trying to find a place with the right address, number of bedrooms and rental.
It works outside of Craigslist, but it will give you all the Craigslist results. Just input your details, and you’ll see housing that matches your search nicely marked out for you on Google maps.
6. Get the big picture
So far, we’ve looked at ways to narrow your search, but you might want a broader overview if you’re looking for something especially rare or if you’re looking for a job and don’t mind relocating.
For that, SearchAllJunk is what you need. It searches Craigslist as well as a few other classifieds sites, giving you the full picture across all the major online classifieds.
7. Be the first
If you’re searching for something important, it really helps to be the first one in line for it. Use the tips for staying on top of Craigslist ads as a tool to put you in a good position to respond quickly. If you’re focused in your search, you stand the best chance of getting what you want!
8. Avoid scams and be safe
Did you know that there are fake sites that ‘pretend’ to be Craigslist just to rip you off? Make sure you’re at the right URL! Apart from that, the rules for avoiding scams are pretty much common sense.
Craigslist warns users to meet the people you’re hoping to transact with in person, use cash if possible, be cautious about sharing personal details until you’ve met the person and have reason to believe they’re for real – and whatever you do, meet in a safe, public place, preferably one where security cameras monitor what’s going down.
It’s recommended that you restrict the people you do business with to your area and to insist on a face-to-face meeting to finalize the transaction.
You’re also warned to watch out for non-specific inquiries if you post an ad. For example “the item” rather than a specified item. And if someone makes you an offer that’s just too good to be true, be on your guard! Whenever possible work using cash only.
9. Buy and sell – and expect a bit of haggling
Most people aren’t scared to offer a slightly lower price than the one asked in a Craigslist ad. So if you’re buying, feel free to bid lower than the asking price and if you’re selling, add as much as 30% to the price of the item so that your buyer can feel like they’re getting a great deal if they beat you down on your asking price.
10. A picture paints a thousand words
Whether you’re buying or selling, pictures are hugely important. If you’re selling, you can post extra pics on an external site and list the URL to boost your buyer’s confidence.
If you’re buying, do remember that pics can be a bit misleading, so look at several and check the specs (e.g., dimensions, tech specs, etc.) with the seller.
11. Words are important too!
Never buy unless you’re certain about the features of the item. If you’re selling, list all features that people need to know in bullet points and add a few sentences below explaining anything else the buyer might want to be informed of.
And if it’s a bulky item, having a plan in place for delivery will be a big help, so do specify whether you will use a delivery service or whether the buyer must make his or her own arrangements for collection.
12. Create an email account for your Craigslist transactions
You don’t want spam. You don’t want people ‘stalking’ you through your regular email address, so create a free mail account with Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo that you use exclusively for your Craigslist transactions.
And remember to check the spam folder, since Craigslist mails often end up there. If you’re buying, you want to be the first, and if you’re selling, prompt responses can help you to clinch the deal before your prospective buyer begins looking elsewhere.
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