Tips: How to start selling stuff on Craigslist

Published On December 20, 2015 | By Morten Storgaard | Living small

We are happy to introduce a good friend Bente James. She has a good deal of experience with selling stuff on Craigslist, so we have invited her to share some tips with us.

You can find Bente here on Facebook – be sure to check it out. She has a great eye for interior design and small spaces! 

Buying and selling on Craigslist


Why not earn a few bucks on your stuff, when you decide to start downsizing?

Over the years I have bought and sold many things on Craigslist. Mostly furniture. I have really only had great experiences with selling and buying.

I have found that there are some hard rules I follow.

Here is my 5 how-to’s if you want to start selling. Because I live in a small space, I typically like to sell fast. Time is more important to me than money.

That rule of course changes a bit, if you have something to sell that either 1.) Is worth a lot of money or 2.) Has some kind of affectional value to you.


1) Craigslist is really not a place to expect high dollars

Unless you have something worth a lot – like a design piece of furniture.

Most people who buy and sell here wants a bargain. A real bargain.

So pricing is everything. If you are on a timeline and need to sell things fast even more so. If you would like big money EBay is probably a better choice.

I always price a bit in the high end, so there is room to negotiate. If I know I want $200 for something I will list it for $225.

2) If an item I am selling do not move within a few days I change tactics.



If nobody buys your stuff, it is either because it is in too bad condition or because your price is too high.

Again – if you really want a certain price, you should list on EBay and you can’t be in a hurry to sell.

If I have no-one interested, I will either mark it down or give it away for free. Things are just really that – things, and often giving stuff away is more cost effective than storing it.

For most people rent or mortgage is the priciest monthly expense, and the more space you need for you and your stuff, the more money you have to spend.

So, my philosophy is:
If you know you want to get rid of something and it is not selling – pass it on to someone or give it to a local thrift store.

3) Craigslist works best locally.

Buying and selling here is closely connected to picking up close by, and most shoppers want or need their stuff today.

Once you get into the mail order thing, you add a whole new dimension to the transaction, and you put yourself in danger of more complications – adding more expense and more risk with the shipment.

4) Craigslist is so grass-root that it is almost always First come, First serve

meaning whoever shows up first with cash in hand gets to buy the item.
I have had a buyer ask me to hold an item before, and I always say no.

It just gets too complicated to enter into verbal agreements with strangers. My advice is – sell to the first person with cash. Don’t ever take checks or hold items for people. It is not worth your time.

5) Safety and scams


There are people out there in the wheeling and dealing world, who want to try to cheat you. I have a few rules here that I try to follow as best I can.

I never give my phone number to people. Ever. I never sell stuff out of my house without my husband being home, and I never go alone to peoples house either.

I have sold and bought stuff in public parking lots many times. It works. If you communicate about the sale via email, pay attention for the following questions:

  1. People ask you to mail something.
  2. people asking for bank account information.
  3. people telling you they are sending a relative to look at an item.

My hard rule here is fair and square: Show up with cash in person.

Again do not enter into exchange of personal information or any kind of verbal agreement about how to pay other than cash.


Buying online or through garage sales can be a great idea, if you are downsizing.

Finding smaller pieces you love for cheap, to prepare your life for a smaller foot print.

Never buy anything just because you like it, and you might use it sometime down the road, and never buy something that needs a big overhaul – unless you are 100% sure you have time and money to do that.

A few thought about buying stuff.

1) Hard rule here is..

Unless you run a small business on the side (like me), helping people with interior design, or you run a business where you redo furniture – only buy stuff you really need.

There are so many deals out there to look for, and seriously so much money to save.

My favorite buys are dining sets, dressers, couches, chairs and cars. Sometimes you can even find things for free.

2) Decide your price beforehand

When I buy something, I always think:
“how much I am willing to pay before even going to see the item?”.

No use to go look at something that is too expensive. So in my initial email, I will say something like:
“My max. budget is $150, do you think that can work?”

3) 75% of the time I have my mind set before I go to look at something.

That is possible, because most people, who list stuff on Craigslist, post really great pictures and list details about their items.

If photos are missing, be sure to email the seller and ask for additional photos. If seller will not provide them, it is either because seller does not have access to a camera or because something is fishy.

Be smart about the questions you ask.

4) Be careful of buying upholstery.

I always do the bedbug test: Bring a flashlight.

Just be open about your intentions here. Say to the seller, look I just check for bedbugs as a rule, nothing personal.

Also do not buy upholstery curbside. If it is sitting on the street, you have no chance to check out the conditions this piece of furniture has been in.

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