Keep, Give Away, or Sell
What do you do when you decide to pack up your life and move to Europe? You sell just about everything on Craigslist! As for the treasures that you just can’t part with, you ask mom and dad (nicely) if you can use long term storage of their garage, crawl space, or shed.
The process of purging and letting go of your accumulated stuff can be a very emotional experience, but also therapeutic. Finally, you can get rid of all those old birthday cards that you have been holding onto for the last 15 years. I am not sure why I am a hoarder of paper, as I don’t think a grade 3 report card will serve any purpose in the near or distant future.
Keeping things that are truly meaningful to you is important. My husband and I kept items like pots and pans, kitchenware, and glassware as they were still in good condition and easy to store. We gave the rest to goodwill or sold it on Craigslist. Most stuff can be replaced fairly easily and cheaply, but kitchen stuff in particular can add up.
I made sure to label all the boxes We don’t know where we will end up putting down roots and may need certain boxes shipped.
I must say, it is a weird feeling packing up your “whole life” and putting it in a storage container, not knowing when you will meet again. On the other hand, living minimalistic with only 3 suitcases and a couple of carry-ons is brilliant!
Start Selling Early
We started selling all of our stuff at the beginning of October, a full 3 months before we were set to move out. We both agreed that we would rather live in an empty apartment for a few months rather than scramble at the end (Christmas time no less) making trips to the dump or goodwill. I listed everything on Craigslist: TV, headboard, footboard, office desk, shoe rack, spice rack, dresser, kitchen table, bench, billy book case, couch, futon, plants and art supplies. You name it, we tried to sell it! Thank goodness we sold everything.
Craigslist can be a tedious and annoying process: post an item, organize a meeting time and no shows, deleting a sold item, and dealing with buyers who short change you. On the whole, you can meet some genuinely nice people as well as those who just want to tell you their whole life story.
Beware: some items sell better on different platforms. Furniture and electronic are great for selling on craigslist, while clothing and purses are better sold on eBay.
Tips to Selling Your Stuff on Craigslist
- Do your Research: I know you think your IKEA Stockholm sofa that you saved your hard earned money to buy two summers ago is worth a lot more, but the reality is items are worth what people are willing to pay. Research and try to find comparable item prices from which to base your price. Take into account the condition of your item in relation to the similar items you find. Then, you will be able to set a competitive market price from the outset.
- Take Good Photographs: You don’t have to be a professional photographer, but make sure to take a clear and bright photos free from background clutter. If the item is dirty, try and clean it as well as you can. You don’t have to scrap the paint off and re-varnish (as one lady asked me to do with an art easel), but try to make it look decent. Bonus Tip: Try and capture multiple product angles as shown in the example sofa photos below.
- Damage: It is important to be truthful about damage to your items. Not only will people appreciate it, you will be spared the embarrassment of someone driving all the way to pickup the product and then decide against buying it because they didn’t know it was damaged. If you have a product with minor damage and you are forthright, it will eliminate all those people who are not looking for gently used items. Take a picture of the damage to show potential purchasers exactly what they will be buying.
- Provide Accurate Details and Good Descriptions: Provide information in your listing, (i.e.: brand, dimensions, weight, year purchased, color, condition, item size, smoke-free, pet-free home) and you won’t be bombarded with endless emails asking the same questions. I think giving a reason why you are selling the item is also a good idea. I stated in my ads: “Moving to Europe and do not want to pay for storage.” If you are willing to take the best offer, say so in the description.
- Combine listings: Sometime similar items can be listed together in the same ad. You will have a better chance of finding a buyer to buy the whole lot. For example, we listed a hydroponic kitchen garden, along with some plants we were selling, in the same ad and the lady who wanted the hydroponic unit decided to take the plants too. It was a win-win for everyone.
- Write a Clear Header: Make sure to use good keywords in your title because the title is usually the first thing people see. Also, titles are how Craigslist users search for items. If you fail to use the right keywords you may limit yourself to certain people being able to find your item. Tip: I never put my location or price in the title
- Delivery Terms: Delivery is usually not your responsibility. In fact, I did not have to deiver anything that I sold recently on Craigslist. Although, I was asked if I could a few times. If you have the time and are willing to deliver the item because it happens to be on the way home from work – great! Otherwise I would let the buyer do the driving. And, if you do happen to personally deliver then feel free to add a few extra dollars for gas money depending on distance.
- Low-Ball Offers: Craigslist is full of people looking for a good deal and most are not afraid to ask. And let me tell you, Craigslist is not a place to be selling grandma’s China. After doing your research and finding the appropriate price, try adding an extra 15-20% so that you have a little wiggle room for negotiation. Of course, there are still people who are just thrilled that they finally found that one item and will pay asking price with no questions asked. Remember to add “or best offer” in your description, so that buyers know there is wiggle room.
- Don’t be Greedy: It is tempting to say ‘no’ to a barterer who asks for $5 off your asking price. Be careful, often those are the people who are willing to walk away never to be heard from again. Sometimes it is better to take the cash and run rather than have the item sit for another month and end up not selling it at all.
- Security Deposit: Some people will come to look at your item before they buy it – great! After viewing, they decide they want to buy the item, but it is too big to fit in their vehicle. They ask if they can come back and pick it up tomorrow. Sounds like a good time to introduce a security deposit.
The security deposit route happened to me on two occasions:
- One buyer said he would give me half asking price as a deposit and come back later that night to pick it up with his van, which he did.
- One man offered a security deposit because the oven didn’t fit in his car – a small Pontiac Sunfire. Imagine, trying to fit an electric oven into a Sunfire! I digress. He indicated he would be back on the weekend with a truck. I said no don’t worry and trusted that he would be back. Saturday came and left and he was a no show, never to be heard from again. Learn from my mistakes and take a security deposit! When in doubt, take the first person with cash in hand.
Things to Watch Out For
- Scammers: The internet is a wonderful place and a great tool, but beware of scammers. These people will rip you off and take your money. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Safety First: I never let anyone come up to the apartment, especially alone. If someone wanted to view an item I would always make sure my husband was home. Use common sense. If you can meet in public, even better!
- Acceptable Methods of Payment: Only accept cash.
- Don’t post your personal number or email
Do you have more tips and tricks for selling your stuff on Craigslist or another online classified? Let us know in the comment section below!