We buy and sell a lot of goods online, and we were asked recently about how we handle the transactions. Today, we’re breaking down tips for selling second-hand items on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist.
If you’ve been around for awhile, you likely know that we love to save money. We’ve written about our strategies a few times (including Lucy’s Strider, above), but we’ve recently been getting quite a few questions from readers about how we sell goods on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist – safely (and during a pandemic).
“We just started using FB Marketplace for selling. Any tips or tricks for listing household items?”
1| Create a Great Ad + Know Your Audience
When listing an item for sale, the ad is obviously the first thing people will see to determine if they want to take the time to view your item in person or purchase it. These are our best tips to creating an ad that will grab attention:
- Use clear, well lit, accurate photos. See: Kim’s tips for better phone photos.
- Write an accurate description including any flaws or special features. Yes, even the flaws!
- List dimensions and/or sizes of items when applicable. This will avoid a lot of initial back and forth while giving the potential buyer all the information they need up front.
- Give a rough idea of your location or the location where you hope to meet up with a potential buyer (more on that later).
- If possible, include a direct link to the new item from the manufacturers website.
We’ve all seen ads with blurry, crooked photos, no description and/or no indication of where the item is actually located. Do you find yourself more or less likely to contact the seller of these items or do you scroll right past them? Getting all of the relevant info out there up front can save a lot of time answering the same questions over and over. We recommend creating an ad that you would be drawn to, since potential buyers of your item are likely to have similar style, interests, or needs to your own. For example, a person who doesn’t have a toddler at home is less likely to be searching for a balance bike than someone who does, so appeal to fellow parents of young children. Make sense?
2| Price Accordingly
We have a general rule of thumb when selling gently used items – cut the original retail price by 50%, then adjust accordingly from there. If an item is really nice or barely used, add 10% – 15%. If it’s sealed or NIB (new in box), maybe add 15% – 25%. If your item shows some wear, maybe cut the price down by 10%. If you’re like us, the space created by selling items is sometimes as valuable as the money, so price for a fast sale, and be open to offers.
“The market is tough here on the East coast! I have brand new items listed with only views. We are so motivated… and we keep cutting prices!”
We also usually add OBO (or best offer) to all of our prices to let people know that we’re open to a bit of negotiation. If we’re listing multiple items, it’s also a nice idea to propose a package deal. We recently sold some outdoor chairs and an umbrella and offered a $50 discount if the same person purchased everything. It cut down on interactions and scheduling hassles, so it was worth it to us!
3| Watch for Scammers
We recently listed an item for sale and almost immediately received a message from someone who said they were interested. I messaged them back, and they asked for my phone number. Something felt ‘off’ – the strange spacing of the letters was a red flag – so I clicked over to their public profile, and there it was right in front of me:
GASP! A SCAMMER! How could I tell?
- The profile had one photo, added only an hour prior
- The person had zero Facebook friends
- The messages they sent referenced ‘the item’ and not specifically what we were selling
Why did this person (or bot) want my phone number? Who knows? But I’m willing to bet they weren’t simply planning to send me occasional life-affirming text messages to brighten my day! Scammers are everywhere on the internet, and a little common sense goes a long way to avoid being taken advantage of.
4| Be Safe + Trust Your Gut
While avoiding scammers is certainly a concern, personal safety is likely more important, right?
I’m new to selling on FB Marketplace and Craigslist. How do you handle it from a safety standpoint? Do you give people your home address for furniture pickups? It makes me very nervous and any advice would be so helpful!
So how do we stay safe when selling items online? Here are just a few ways we manage transactions:
- Handle all transactions during daylight hours
- Don’t agree to any meetups alone. If possible, have a spouse/partner/roommate come outside with you or watch from a window
- Don’t allow anyone into your home – transactions should be handled in the driveway or at the sidewalk
- Have the buyer message you when they’re on their way with an ETA. This will keep you from being stood up
- Tell or text the buyer “Please text me when you’re out front, and don’t knock or ring the doorbell. My dogs will go nuts!” Yes, even if you don’t have a dog! You just want the buyer to think you have dogs.
- For smaller items, meet at a neutral space, like the parking lot of a grocery store or post office and let someone know where you’re headed and when to expect you back
The key here is to trust your gut. If you’re completely uncomfortable with at-home sales or you live alone, many local police and fire stations allow transactions to take place in their lobbies. Some municipalities even have a dedicated space or staff member that can oversee transactions.
5| Set Realistic Expectations
Keeping expectations in check is also important to avoid disappointment. Selling a limited-edition niche item with a very small buyer pool? It might take longer to sell than something like a TV or laptop with much wider market appeal. We’ve been collectively shocked when unique items have sold instantly. We’ve also had the opposite experience. Some items sell in a matter of a few hours. Some take weeks to move. Just be prepared to lower your price until you find the sweet spot of the value proposition. We’ve found that a 10% price decrease every 5-7 days helps.
Also, try to keep in mind that just because something is special or sentimental to you, that does not mean it holds as special of a place in the heart of a potential buyer. Stay optimistic, and focus on tips 1 through 4!
A Closing Caveat
We hope these tips are helpful! As always, these are simply tips that have worked for us in the past. Please use your own judgement when interacting with strangers online. So, what did we miss? Let us know your favorite tips in the comments!