How To Find Sweet Deals on Craigslist: Part 3

Note: This is the third and final part of the series. Read part 1 for a brief introduction to Craigslist and part 2 for a Craigslist listing search tutorial.

So you’ve found that perfect listing. It’s the exact color you wanted, at a fair price point, and located reasonably close by. Where do you go from here? In my final post of this series, I’ll cover the essentials of the transaction itself – one of the most important steps to scoring a good deal.

Contacting the Seller

The first thing you should do is to reply to the listing that you’re interested in. At the top left of the page underneath the headline you’ll see the reply email. Copy paste this email address into whatever email client you use. Be courteous and to the point. I usually just say I’m interested in the listing, and ask for more information (condition, any damage, how long owned, etc.).

You don’t need to discuss price at this point. If the seller included a phone number in the listing, then call/text rather than email. Chances are the seller will respond much more quickly. Whatever you do, don’t delay. If it’s a good deal, there will be other people contacting the seller, too. Speed is important.

Checking Out the Item

You’ve gotten in contact with the seller, and you like what you hear. You agree to go over to take a look at the item. I’ll go over some useful tips from personal experience.

First, bringing a friend will do more good than harm. Your friend might be able to spot something you miss, help you with moving the item, and decrease the chances (slim but still there) of dirty play. Second, I recommend not carrying cash. You can find your bank’s ATM nearby if you do eventually agree on a deal – having cash on you when you first check out the item is just an extra liability. And last, ask a lot of good questions – you’ll have the item in front of you so be as thorough as you can. If you spot something that seems off, don’t hesitate to call it out. Take note of any damages or factors that could diminish the value (this will be useful come negotiating time).


Negotiating really depends on the owner, price, and item. Sometimes, the owner’s not going to budge. This usually only happens when they’re pricing the item significantly lower than market value. You know it, and they’ll know it too. However, most of the time, sellers are willing to negotiate (they often price the item higher in anticipation of eventually lowering the price).

Dos: Be clear on the price you want to offer. Be willing to compromise. Point out any flaws you see on the item, and use those flaws to your negotiating advantage. Don’ts: Lowballing – this means offering a ridiculously low amount. Sellers will most definitely be turned off by this tactic, and you can kiss any deal goodbye. The ideal price is somewhere between the seller’s agreed price and your agreed price. Some effective tactics I’ve seen and/or used: extended silence (pretty dramatic, this one), highlighting the flaws, reasoning your price, walking away. Practicing negotiating techniques makes perfect, and there are many ways to succeed.

Closing the Deal

If both you and the seller agree on the deal, you can now pick up cash (usually the only payment accepted) and make the exchange. Make sure the seller helps you move your item or fills out any required paperwork before you hand over the cash. Once that’s done, congrats! You’ve gotten yourself a deal.

Again, the transaction process is very logical. Be smart, always be on the lookout, and don’t be afraid to ask for the price you think is fair. With these in check, you’ll make Craigslist a powerful tool in purchasing good items while saving money.

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