Craigslist 101: 4 Tips to Set Your Price

posted by Andrea | 05/13/2016
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price

Spring is one of the best times of the year for yard sales, garage sales, church sales, secondhand sales, etc. It’s also prime-time for selling stuff on Craigslist (at least where we live).

I think people just have that urge to purge once the weather gets warmer — and in my experience, one of the fastest and easiest ways for me to sell my cast-offs is via Craigslist.

As many of you already know from experience, selling items on Craigslist is a pretty simple process — the tricky part for many is just knowing where to set your price point for the items you’re selling.

Because of this (and because I’ve already written LOTS of posts about Craigslist) I’ve recently gotten lots of questions about buying and selling on Craigslist. I usually direct those questions straight to my Craigslist 101 series here on my blog. However, I was getting lots of questions about pricing — especially from people looking to sell items via their local Craigslist.

Obviously the price of your item will be somewhat variable depending on where you are located, what the cost of living is, what type of condition the item is in, how old it is, how desirable it is, etc. etc. etc.

So there’s no way I can sit here and tell you a dresser should be sold for $100, or kid’s clothing should be sold for $2 per item — that’s just not realistic.

However, after being on both the buying and selling sides of hundreds of Craigslist transactions over the past 10 years, I can confidently offer a few tips that will hopefully help you to set appropriate and realistic prices for your cast-offs.

1. Be informed.

If you have no idea where to start when pricing your items, simply take a few minutes to search for that item on Craigslist, Ebay, and Amazon.com. Take note of what other people are asking for the same (or similar) item in used condition AND what Amazon is selling it for new.

Also, when you browse similar used items for sale, take note of the condition of the item. If your item is in better condition, you could probably ask more. If it’s worse condition, you’ll want to adjust your price point accordingly.

Of course, this isn’t an exact science, but it gives you a general ballpark range to start with.

NOTE FOR BUYERS: if you’re looking to buy an item off Craigslist (specifically a bigger ticket item) search other area Craigslist ads, Ebay listings, and Amazon.com to see what others are asking for similar items — and what you can buy it for brand new. I know I have been shocked when I find that I can get an item brand new (with free shipping and returns on Amazon.com) for just a few dollars more than some people are asking for the same items used!

2. Be realistic.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen an item for sale on Craigslist for a price HIGHER than what I could buy it brand new on Amazon.com Sure, maybe it’s brand new, never used, in “like new condition” with nothing wrong, but it’s still NOT new — which make it used in my opinion!

It’s not from a store, I don’t get a receipt, I can’t return it if I don’t like it, and I’m simply taking your word on the fact that it’s “brand new”.

Even if your item has a tiny dent, rip, stain, etc. you should state that, and lower the price accordingly. A potential buyer will most likely notice those little things when they come to look at the item, and then might feel like you’re trying to hide something. By listing any imperfections right up front, you’ll most likely save yourself (and the buyer) a bunch of time.

My most recent Craigslist search was for a little bike for Simon. I started searching early this Spring and so far, I haven’t had much luck. However, my favorite ad was for a “like new toddler bike” that was in “perfect condition, except that it needed new tires”. They were asking $20 for it and I have a feeling it would cost more than $20 extra to get new tires!

What? How is that “like new” and “perfect condition”??

I have a feeling they won’t be selling that bike any time soon as their description is very misleading and they are being completely unrealistic with their asking price.

The bottom line is, if your item is used, you need to set your price accordingly. I don’t care how much you might have paid for the item or how great of condition it’s still in — it’s still used!

3. Be thorough.

If you’re willing to take a little extra time to get several quality pictures of your items in good lighting and provide lots of information about the item (size, weight, dimensions, purchase location, etc.) you will most definitely be able to set a higher price for your items.

If you’re interested in how detailed I get with my listing descriptions, read this post.

In my opinion, you need at least one GOOD picture of your actual item (not a photo from Amazon or another website). In fact, I don’t even look at listings that don’t have a picture because it just means I need to waste more time emailing the seller to ask for a picture.

A few other things to consider when you list your items. 

  • If you’re selling furniture, make sure you list the measurements.
  • If you’re selling clothing, make sure all the sizes are clearly stated.
  • If you’re selling technology, make sure you know what you’re talking about and have all the various features listed.
  • If you’re selling a house, make sure you list as many details as possible (read how we sold our house on Craigslist in 3 days!)

I think you get the idea. By being thorough and providing as much information as possible, you can ask a higher price (and your items will almost always sell faster).

4. Be patient.

If you’re dead-set on getting a certain price for an item (and that price is higher than what others are asking) you better be willing to wait.

My theory is that if I no longer want or need something, I want it out of my house ASAP — and I set my prices accordingly. I’d rather sell something for $50 today than sit on it for weeks and weeks (and waste time re-listing it) just to get $75. However, if you feel it’s worth the extra $25, than just be prepared to wait.

Similarly, if you’re looking to buy an item at a rock-bottom price, you’d better be prepared to wait. I’ve waited patiently for MANY MANY items, and my efforts have almost always been rewarded with ridiculously low prices on some amazing items (like an almost new super nice grill with tons of bells and whistles for only $70, and an awesome Peg Perego stroller for only $40, and our kid’s table and chairs for only $10!)

Good things do come to those who wait — especially on Craigslist 🙂

I hope these tips will help those of you who are struggling to set appropriate prices for your cast-offs.

As I mentioned above, your price point will also depend on your location and cost of living — so there’s no hard, fast rule that will work every time. However, I will say “when in doubt, go lower”. A lower-priced item will almost always sell faster — which means you’ll empty your home and fill your wallet faster! Win-Win!

If you have more Craigslist questions (for buying or selling) make sure you read all the posts in my Craigslist 101 series!

Do you have any other tips for setting appropriate prices for used items?

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11 comments

  1. sheila

    05/14/2016

    very timely post for me I have a ton of stuff I’ve been wanting to sell on CL but just don’t know what to ask for it…and I keep procrastinating. 🙂

    [Reply]

  2. Michelle

    08/06/2014

    I’m new to Craigslist and wonder how you link your posts. I see you state to search adekker, but where do you enter it when you’re composing your listing?

    [Reply]

  3. lydia @ Five4FiveMeals

    05/12/2014

    This is timely for me! I am decluttering and listing stuff on Craigslist.

    [Reply]

  4. Katie

    05/09/2014

    We just moved to the Olympia, Washington area, and I’m really surprised at how much more people ask for things on Craigslist. When we lived in Illinois, we were able to buy things for much cheaper than in Washington. I’d be interested to know which areas of the country typically have better deals on used goods. Thanks for all of your posts about Craigslist. They’re so helpful!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks katie! I’m guessing it’s mainly based on cost of living in different areas of the country. So bigger cities will probably have higher prices.

    [Reply]

  5. susie

    05/09/2014

    I was at a garage sale with my sister in law and she saw an expresso machine she was interested in. She googled it with her phone and saw that it was $100 new and they were asking $8 for it (brand new). While she was looking at her phone I assumed she was just texting someone, it was so sly! Love technology, we don’t have to wait for info to decide if we should by something! I am still kicking myself, she also got a big wool rug for only $40 that I still want!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    wow that’s awesome! and yes, technology is helpful for some of those things — I’ve already gotten sellers to drastically reduce their prices because I can show them what I could buy the item for used on Amazon.com

    [Reply]

  6. Bonnie Cummings

    05/09/2014

    Hi Andrea, we have a 2010 5th wheel I want to put on Craigslist, and I know you always say ask for cash, but is that still the case when the price will be between 20 & 25 thousand?

    [Reply]

    Lana Reply:

    I would require a cashiers check for a purchase over $10,000. Any cash deposit you make at a bank over that amount requires certain documents filled out by the bank, recording the large cash deposit.

    [Reply]

    Bonnie Cummings Reply:

    Thanks for the advice. I was wondering about a cashers check, but wasn’t sure.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I would do just as Lana suggested and do a cashier’s check. I think the most expensive thing we sold and asked for straight cash was $3000. Anything more tan $5000, I’d most certainly just get a cashier’s check.

    God luck!

    [Reply]