How To Find Sweet Deals on Craigslist: Part 2

Note: This is part 2 of the series. To read part 1, click here.

So you’ve decided to read on…good for you! Welcome back. Today, I’ll be going over the basics of finding deals on Craigslist. Most of my advice is from personal experience, but feel free to use the methods that work for you.

Before you begin, there are some essentials that you’ll need to successfully buy stuff from Craigslist. The most important is a method of transportation, as all your deals will be local and usually must be arranged to pick up.

No car? No worries – find a friend who has one! My flatmate James graciously lent his car last summer to transport my bike, and his car was a coupe (with a decent-sized trunk).

If you really have no means of transportation, don’t fret! It’s still possible to arrange for the owner to deliver the item. Sometimes they’ll do it for free, other times they’ll charge a small fee. I got my free futon delivered by the owner – for free! And my bed set was delivered for a $10 charge.

Now that you have your means of transportation, it’s time to look at the website. First off, make sure you’re on the right city. For me, I select “sfbayarea,” type in the keyword of the item I’m searching for, and select “title only” to filter out non-relevant results.

A list of your item should pop up. This is the fun part! Start clicking through the results, selecting your preferred model/listing and price point. I’ve listed some pointers below to help you determine if the listing is worth pursuing.

Thoroughness – A good indicator that the previous owner took good care of the item and that the listing is legit. This means a detailed description, good pictures, and additional contact info, such as a phone number. These are A listings.

Repeat listings – Part of the strategy to scoring a good deal when it’s time to negotiate is to see how desperate the owner is for cash. If you check up on the listings enough, you’ll start to see repeat listings, oftentimes with increasingly-lowered prices. There’s a chance that people aren’t buying the item because it’s not good, but it doesn’t hurt to check out. I bought my newest bike using this strategy, negotiating the price down from the listed $150 to $100, because I had seen the same posting over a couple weeks.

Location – Sometimes, if the deal is good enough, it’s worth driving longer distance to pick it up. I’ve driven over 40 miles one way on two separate occasions to pick up my bikes, and I saved more than enough money to cover the gas. But on most occasions, the closer, the better. I picked up my dresser set a street down from where I live in Berkeley – all you need to do is select the tab on top of the listings page that lists your specific area. In my case, I select “east bay” and control-F “berkeley.”

The key to scoring sweet deals on Craigslist is patience. Don’t expect to find a super-deal off the bat. It takes time for you to get a sense of the market value, the supply/demand of the item you’re looking for, and the trends – any repeat listings, etc.

I promise you that if you’re patient enough and check up on the items you want on a semi-frequent basis, you’ll spot amazing deals, up to half-off even from prices on Craigslist.

In my next post of the series, I’ll be covering the transaction portion of Craigslist – how to contact the seller, arrange a meet-up, negotiate, and the dos and don’ts of your interaction with the seller.

As always, feedback is greatly appreciated for these posts. Let me know if you’d like me to go into a little more detail, or to include responses to questions you may have about Craigslist.

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  1. June 23, 2011
  2. June 23, 2011
    • June 23, 2011
  3. April 27, 2012

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