Since I shared How To Sell Furniture on Craigslist last week (link HERE), I figured a post on buying furniture would be beneficial for those of you on the opposite side of the seller spectrum. Although I have sold more than I have bought, I have had several great experiences with buying furniture too. The basic principals still apply, i.e. safety first! But, there are a few things that you must also watch out for...
1. Know what you are looking for. Sounds obvious, right? Well, Craigslist is filled with hundreds of daily posts from sellers hocking goods. Don't waste your time scrolling through ads that you are not interested in. Try and be specific in your search, ex: round, glass top coffee table. If you don't find many results, try searching 'round coffee table'.
2. Be Patient. You may not find what you need immediately. New listings go up continuously, so check back every few days or everyday even. I wanted an antique secretary cabinet for ages. I only found a very few when I first started browsing Craigslist for it, but they were all out of my price range or not exactly what I had in mind. I kept checking back and after a few weeks, I found a great deal on one. It pays to be persistent!
3. Ask Questions. If the seller did not follow my rules of an effective listing, don't be afraid to ask for additional information. Ask for more pictures if needed too. Make sure you see a picture of the actual item, not just a retail photo from a website. An email or phone call asking general questions is better than wasting everyone's time by making plans to meet somewhere, only to discover the item won't fit in your car or won't work in your space. Make sure an item will work in it's intended place before you go look at it.
4. Be Wary. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be cautious of the 'brand new' king-size mattress or the authentic antique armoire for cheap. It may very well be a deal but it could also be a very cheap imitation. Do not agree to items being shipped or pre-paid. All of your transactions should be cash-and-carry.
5. Practice Safe Shopping. Agree to meet the seller in a public place. If this is not feasible, bring someone with you. Do not go into anyone's home that you do not know. Ask that they set the furniture in the garage for you to view. If you start feeling nervous or anxious about the seller, walk away. Your personal safety is not worth any piece of furniture. *Also, I only give and accept cash for Craigslist purchases. Do not give anyone your credit card info!
6. Act Fast. If you see what you want, contact the seller quickly. Do not wait a week or two and expect the item to still be available. We sold 4 out 5 pieces of furniture in less than 24 hours after posting them on Craigslist. If you really want an item, be available to get it. Sellers won't typically hold an item for you. Trade phone numbers, get directions and get the item.
7. Be Courteous. If you really aren't interested in something, than don't waste anyone's time. Do NOT stand anyone up either. It's just plain rude, plus bad karma for you. If you think the price is a little high on something, than by all means, negotiate. Haggling is pretty common, but don't insult the seller because you can't afford an item. If it's overpriced, it's their problem. If it's a fair price but you just can't afford it, it's your problem. Finding out what an item is worth new by searching Amazon or Overstock can help you determine an item's worth, if you are unsure.
8. Carefully examine the item before you buy it. So, you found a sofa that you think will work in your family room. You double check the measurements, make arrangements with the seller to see the item and are on your way...but the color is different in person or you don't care for the fabric...don't feel pressured to buy. Just because you took the time to look at it, does not mean you are stuck buying something you are unsure about. Be honest with the seller and say that upon closer inspection, the color/style.size just won't work. Thank them for their time and walk away. No harm, no foul.
Craigslist can be a fantastic source for finding great deals. With a little caution and knowledge, you are on your way to an affordable marketplace of possibility.
2 hours ago