If you’re wondering how to write an ad for selling furniture on Craigslist or other similar sites, you’ve come to the right place!
I’ve been buying and selling on Craigslist for many, many years ever since it started, and these are my seven proven tips. I think most any seller will benefit from them, and I am excited to pass them along to you today!
The best thing about this technique is that you can switch your furniture out every few years if you want and not spend any money. As long as you’re buying and selling, you’re just swapping your furniture out for new-to-you pieces that you love.
It’s such a fun game to play.
The biggest stumbling block that I hear about from other readers is that they struggle with how much they paid for the original piece brand new.
So there is this sort of guilt /sticker shock that happens as you transition from the person who buys retail versus the one who gets into the cycling the furniture in and out of Craigslist.
The bed that I am listing today was that way for me. It was the first nice piece of furniture that we bought after we were newly weds.
We bought it on sale, but it was a huge splurge and we saved for a long time to get it. I love this bed, but at the time did not realize how trendy it was and how I was not going to be as excited about it in the future.
If you are somewhat trendy and really love to keep changing your decorations and furniture out, this is another reason to get into Craigslist. I can’t believe I am ready to sell this bed after loving it for so long, but here I am.
If it were just the wood, I wouldn’t mind on painting it a white or light gray and just having a French flair to the bed. But it’s the upholstery that really stresses me out.
I know how to do upholstery, but this is so perfectly done that I just don’t think I could replace it well enough.
I thought about replacing it with a linen, but then that would be really difficult to keep clean. So I am at an impasse.
Do I pay someone to reupholster it, do I leave it the way it is and not like it or do I sell it to recoup some of the money and just learn my lesson?
I have come to the decision that if I can make $1000 off this bed it will be the breaking point for me that will make me be able to let go of this bed.
Number One | Take Great Pictures
The first thing that I recommend is to get four very good pictures from different angles of the piece. Make sure you have nice lighting (either outside or near a window during the day) and be sure to get close-ups of any defects that need to be disclosed.
Take the very best one and use that as your cover photo when you are writing and set up your ad.
This is the first impression people will have of your item, make it a good one!
Number Two | Write a quality and in-depth description in the description box.
Give a little bit of the history, tell why you’re selling it and use descriptions of the materials, give all the measurements. Share up front about any defects so there aren’t surprises later for the buyer.
You can throw in helpful keywords, like the brand names or a specific style that would help people looking for your item to find it quickly. Be honest and not spammy, but use this to your advantage.
Mention also if the item is coming from a smoke -free or an animal- free home, a lot of times this will help the buyer make their decision and it saves the need of a back and forth communication to ask about it.
If you’re answering the question before they have to ask it, you’re writing a great ad that will get more attention online.
Number Three | Stick with Appropriate Pricing Guidelines
For pricing the piece, this is the guideline I like to use:
I figure out what retail pricing is and I set my beginning offer for my item 40% off of that.
Plan ahead and be prepared to drop your price if it’s required. And get comfortable with how low you are willing to go if a buyer were interested in trying to negotiate a lower price.
The 40% off of retail pricing guideline actually works well when you’re BUYING from online as well, so keep that in mind!
If it is a really popular item plan to re-list about every three days to keep it at the top of the listings and in front of more potential buyers. Different platforms will have their own rules about how often something can be reposted, so pay attention to that and mark your calendar so you can stay on top of it until it sells!
If you haven’t had any offers in two weeks prepare to drop the price by 5% and do this until you get down to 60% off retail, which is about eight weeks in my experience.
At this point you could reevaluate- is it worth continuing to drop the price or do you just want to donate it and be done with it??
On the bigger pieces I stick with it a lot longer but if I have an item down to say $50, I just don’t wanna put anymore time into relisting it and taking phone calls and emails. So at that point I might just get rid of it.
Number Four | Be Smart about WHEN you list your item online.
I think that listing new items on Friday night is the best night because people are going into weekend mode and hanging out online. They’re starting to think about their home projects and are often more able to go meet someone on the weekend to pick something up. Furniture can do really well Friday through Sunday.
This is a really important not when discussing any online buying and selling.
Use an abundance of caution and your intuition and common sense when communicating with potential buyers. If someone is acting fishy, or if their story is too good to be true, it usually is NOT someone who is actually interested in your item, and they’ll probably just end up wasting your time.
If the initial conversation via email or messages goes well, I will often give them my phone number so we can chat on the phone and I can answer any questions. During this second stage of the process, if they start acting more shady or fickle, I’ll simply let them know I’m moving on to another buyer, and will block their number if they are not willing to accept my no as final.
If that phone conversation goes well, historically for me that means I’ll have a smooth selling experience after that. It’s a great way to screen your customers.
Remember not to EVER agree to wire money or to accept payments as deposits or for “a friend to pick it up”. Those excuses almost always are from scam artists.
Number Five | Always Meet in a Public Place to do the Exchange
Even when someone has passed the phone call “interview” stage, I still want to meet in a public place like Starbucks or a local grocery store. Some place very public and we just meet in the parking lot.
I have heard that some police stations encourage the use of their parking lot for exchanges like this to encourage accountability and safety for both parties! You can contact your local station and ask if that is an option.
If you have a family member or friend who is able to tag along for company, that’s always a great choice as well!
If you have a large item that has to be picked up from your home (like with this bed), I will make sure that I have different security measures in play, like the bed will probably be sitting in the middle of the driveway, and I’ll ask my husband to be home at the same time.
Basically, if they have to come to your house, plan on making it super fast and straightforward. Bring items out to your front porch or sidewalk, etc.
Number Six | Cash is King
It can be helpful to mention this when you’re writing the ad, but you can let them know that you’ll accept only cash.
Don’t feel awkward to count it on the spot and make sure it’s correct.
The other thing that I think is wise to insist on is that your buyer look over the product you’re trying to sell and agree that it is most definitely what they thought it was and that there’s nothing wrong with it.
By getting verbal communication that they’ve looked it over and are confident it is what they were looking for, you avoid people calling you two days later and saying they want to return it.
My policy is to not accept returns unless it is discovered that something was different than advertised.
For instance, one time we sold a stove and the guy got it home and couldn’t get it to work. That was the only time ever that I was willing to take it back. In the end he got his brother to fix it and it was able to work.
Otherwise, I wouldn’t have agreed to that.
Number Seven | Use a first come first serve option for pickup rather than holding it.
Especially if your item is popular, I would suggest using a first come, first serve (sometimes shortened to FCFS on selling pages) pick up. Having someone place a “hold” just extends the time that the item is pending and on your mind. If you have a party willing to come right away, they’re always the better bet that someone who is needing to fiddle around and waste time.
Once you do have an item as pending, you can keep a list of interested parties and their phone numbers, and call them starting at the top of the list if the first sale falls through.
Usually, they are really grateful for that type of response and many times the first buyer will fall through. They just won’t end up coming or they change their mind at the last minute and I have a back up plan at that point.
I just contact the other the next person in line and say, “Hey, it’s available, you’re in luck!”
And we just keep moving forward. Those back up buyers are gold!
~ Bonus Tip for 2022 ~
I’ve noticed a trend in 2022 that some items just aren’t moving as well as they used to, even using these same great guidelines!
What I think is happening is that some of the bigger sale sites (*cough cough Facebook Marketplace, I’m looking at you) are making it harder to sell without using their ad features. It’s a bit of a bummer, but if you can pay a few dollars to initiate an ad through their site and it moves your piece along that much more quickly, it might be worth it!
I’d love to hear in the comments below if you’ve been noticing this trend, and if so, what you’ve been doing to help overcome it!
Here are some related tips for buying second hand: