Save Money Buying on Craigslist By Being a Better Buyer

When it comes to buying used items, Craigslist is a wonderful resource. Erika recently just wrote a great article on how to sell items on Craigslist. Being a frequent seller on Craigslist, I am always amazed at how ridiculous potential buyers can be. So here is a how-to for all Craigslist potential buyers. With these simple tips, you can get what you need quickly at the price you want to pay. As a buyer on Craigslist, these tips have helped me haggle the price down, as well as make a great connection with the seller, sometimes leading in free items.

1. Email Like a Businessman, not a Lazy Teenager: Once you find an item that you like, it is time to get the business communication rolling. The best way to waste someone’s time is to send an email that says, “Is this item still available?” I receive those emails all the time, and it is so tempting to write back, “If I just listed it today than yes, it is still available”. It is also very annoying when potential buyers email me saying, “Can you give me a call at _____”. Who wants to cold call a stranger?

Instead, take authority when you email. Say, “If ______ is still available, I am interested in buying it. I am located ______. I am free (flexible times and dates here). What time and place works for you? Feel free to email me back or text/call on my phone – ________” Being this straight forward saves a lot of emails back and forth and makes the whole process easier. If by chance the product is unavailable, the seller will let you know or will not get back to you (which is also a big pet peeve). Also, an email like this will win the seller over if he has other inquiries on the item. The seller will know that this is a quick and uncomplicated sale.

2. Haggle Fairly: No one likes to be “low-balled”, as they call it on Craigslist. However, everyone is usually flexible with their price. Always ask, “Will you take $X for the item?” when sending your inquiry. They will either agree or meet you in the middle. Those who are firm on their price are usually not worth my time, unless I really want the item. If you go too low in your offer, chances are the seller will just ignore you all together.

To get a better deal, find Craigslist sellers that are selling a lot of things at once. I happened to find a wealthy lady selling all of her baby stuff in one listing. She had it all listed in one post with prices for everything. I saw three things that I wanted which allowed me to haggle the items as a group. This lady was actually quite amazing and ended up giving me so much more stuff for free or for barley anything (though I am pretty sure my swollen, pregnant belly may have helped my cause).

3. You are the Interested Party, You Do the Traveling: Another pet peeve of many Craigslist sellers is that buyers want the seller to travel to them. For example, my husband was selling a camera lens and a potential buyer looked under our city and emailed us saying he was very interested but was in Irvine. Irvine is over two hours away! If he was that interested, he would make the trip to us, not expect us to make the trip to him!

So if you see something you like in a different city, be prepared to do most of the legwork. There is nothing wrong with asking to meet at a local Starbucks (close to the seller) if the item is not too large.

4. Do Your Research: Funny story – another guy was interested in my husband’s camera lens. This lens is for Canon DSLRs. We arranged to meet the guy at a local meeting place. After about twenty minutes of waiting, my husband contacted him and asked if he was coming. The guy responded that he was, but he was trying to get the lens off his camera. After a few more questions from my husband, we found out that the guy had a point and shoot camera and his lens was not a removable one, and if it was, the lens we were selling was not even made for his camera.

Lesson from that – do your research. If you are not sure if something will work for you, do a Google search. You can always ask the seller beforehand too for a little assistance.

Craigslist is a great place to buy items and save a lot of money. You will save more money, time, and get the items you want if you follow the above tips. No one likes to deal with a dumb or lazy Craigslist buyer, so do not be one!