Craigslist 101: How I Handle Meet-Ups

posted by Andrea | 10/10/2013

craigslist 101 meetups

It’s no secret that I do A LOT of Craigslist shopping. 

As I look around the various rooms of our house, the majority of stuff we own is a direct result of a Craigslist transaction… seriously!

It’s one of my favorite online shopping sources for good reason, and it’s my go-to “store” ANY time I need or want something.

However, along with being an experienced Craigslist buyer, I have also made thousands of dollars over the past 7 years by selling our unwanted and unneeded items on Craigslist. At one point before my blog and before kids, it was literally a substantial part-time income for me.

I’ve scaled back on the selling part these days. Instead, I just pick a weekend every few months, list 15-20 things and enjoy a little extra spending (or saving) money — but I’ll be the first to admit that my Craigslist pocket money adds up. I did a few calculations and figured out that I’ve made over $3600 since January 2013, not too shabby for taking a few pictures and sending a few emails to interested parties.

I really enjoy using Craigslist, and thankfully, I live in an area where I feel very safe and don’t worry too much about crazy people coming to my house. However, I realize there are LOTS of you who don’t necessarily share my bravery when it comes to selling items on Craigslist, and quite regularly, I get emails asking how exactly I handle my Craigslist sales.

Do I let people come to our house?

Do I let people come IN our house? Even if Dave isn’t home?

Do I give out my phone number?

Do I hold items for people? If so, how long?

Do I accept anything other than cash?

Do I ever ship items I sell?

I could go on and on — but those are the main questions I get time and time again.

So here are my answers! 

Do I let people come to our house?

Yes, I have no problem giving out our home address — but I don’t just give it out willy-nilly.

Basically, if someone is interested, I give them my approximate location (by this school and these cross streets) and then ask them to confirm a time (either that day or the next day) that they will come. Then I give them my phone number and say “call me when you are ready to leave and I’ll give you our exact address.”

This way, it’s up to THEM to call me and get my address when they are ready to leave. If they wait a few days to call, there’s a good chance the item will already be gone so I don’t have to feel bad about not holding an item for them. In the mean time, I also don’t have to worry about random people showing up at my house because I’ve given out my address 50 times.

This method has worked really well for me and people are usually more than willing to make a quick phone call for my address versus me giving it to them days in advance.

If you don’t feel comfortable having people come to your house, I’d suggest meeting at a smaller parking lot (like a fast food restaurant). The only negative thing with this is you have to load up the items, leave your house (possibly pack up your kids), and then wait for someone who could potentially not show up. For these reason, I’ve always opted to have the people come to our house — but that’s just my own personal preference.

Do I let people come IN our house – even if Dave isn’t home?

Yes and yes. And I know some of you might be totally freaked out by this!

To be perfectly honest, Dave isn’t home a lot of the time so that would really limit me if I had to wait until he was home. And thankfully, he feels totally safe having me sell out of our home.

I promise I’m really safe about it — and if someone seems at all sketchy on the phone or via email, I just tell them the item is sold. Most of the people buying my things are other women — usually my age or a little older, and they usually show up with their kids in tow. So not super intimidating.

While I usually just move whatever I’m selling out to the garage or the front porch for easy loading, there are times when it just makes sense to keep an item inside. In that case, I try to have the items ready to go, sitting by the door so we don’t need to walk all the way through the house.

While this might sound scary or risky to some of you, I can honestly say that after hundreds of transactions over the past 7 years, I have NEVER ONCE felt unsafe, scared, or insecure about letting someone into our home. And if I ever did have a weird feeling, I’m a pretty fast thinker and would probably come up with some excuse not to let them in. Then, I would go inside, lock the doors, close the blinds, and call my sister who lives down the road and has a husband with a really big truck!

Do I give out my phone number?

I kind of already answered this above — but yes, I do give out my phone number.

I DO NOT post my phone number on the actual listing — you can do this, but you’ll probably get crazy phone calls at all hours of the day if you do :)

Basically, as I mentioned above, once an interested buyer emails me with a time/date they can come (in the near future), I’ll email them my phone number (and approximate location) and ask them to call me when they are ready to come.

At first I felt a little weird giving out my phone number, but it’s pretty easy to find a phone number now days and it practically eliminates the problem of no-shows or being asked to “hold” an item for someone — so it’s totally worth it for me.

Do I hold items for people? If so, how long?

I would answer “no” to this question ALMOST every single time — but it does depend.

If it’s a low-value or free item, I will not hold it for any reason. However, if it’s several hundred dollars or a specialty item that probably won’t sell very quickly, I might hold it for a day or so. I just use my own judgement to decide on a per-item basis.

If the person sounds responsible and reliable and if I’m fairly confident they will show up when they say they will, then I’m more likely to hold it for a short while.

But for the most part, my method of having them call me when they are ready to come eliminates the need to hold anything. If they call me sooner, it’s more likely the item will still be around — and if they wait too long, I can simply tell them it’s no longer available and save them the trip.

Do I accept anything other than cash?

Definitely NO.

Well, I suppose we did accept a cashier’s check when we sold our house — but that’s a little bit different :)

The most expensive thing I’ve ever sold on Craigslist (besides our house) was $3000 and even then, she paid me cash. I would never accept a personal check,  and I don’t really even like doing PayPal either because PayPal takes 3% out of transactions — so that’s less money for me.

I would probably take a cashier’s check for larger items, but I’ve found that anyone who is a seasoned Craigslist buyer knows to come with cash. I also clearly state that I only accept cash at the bottom of all my listings.

Also, I always ask for EXACT cash so I don’t have to worry about making change — especially for smaller items.

Do I ever ship items I sell?

For the most part, no.

I have shipped items on 2 separate occasions, but in both situations, the items were small and inexpensive. However, I did require the buyer to mail me the cash (including the shipping costs quoted to me by the post office) before I would mail the items. So in both cases, the buyers must have trusted me because they sent cash in the mail to a stranger and then had to wait several days for their package to arrive.

In general, I would not advise you to ship products OR to pay for products on Craigslist via the mail. These 2 situations were definitely unique. However, I figured that if they trusted me enough to send cash, it was the least I could do to ship their items.

So those are my answers to the FACQ’s (frequently asked craigslist questions) I get on a very regular basis.

If you’re interested in buying and selling on Craigslist and would like to read more of my tips, you can read all my Craigslist 101 posts here.

And if you have more questions or something to add to what I’ve mentioned above, feel free to leave them in the comments below. I’ll do my best to answer! 

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28 comments

  1. Organize 365

    10/10/2013

    Great answers! I love the series of emails you send.

    I too have sold on craigs list, but nothing like you!! :)

    This is super information for all my professional organization clients! I will be linking to this post often! Thanks!

    :)
    Lisa

    [Reply]

  2. Lauren K.

    10/10/2013

    I’ve used your exact wording for my own Craigslist ads and they worked like a charm! I never thought about saving the address until they call. I’m in a bigger city now so I’m definitely going to do that.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yay — so glad it has worked for you! I ALWAYS get people telling me that they were interested in my items over someone else’s items because of how clear and exact my wording was, how much detail I provide (like all the measurements) and all the pictures. It takes me 30 extra seconds and helps me make a lot more money!

    [Reply]

  3. Sandy

    10/10/2013

    Just curious as to the type of things that you sell. Are they things you no longer want or do you find items elsewhere w/ the intent to sell them on Craigslist for a profit? I know you mentioned you shop garage sales so I wasn’t sure it you look for things that you can turn around and sell at a profit. I know you’ve also mentioned purging things from your closets on a regular basis and am wondering what kinds of things you choose to donate and what kinds of things you sell. That’s a LOT of money to make selling used items and I’m wondering if I’m donating items I should be making an attempt to sell!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Sandy, I don’t sell any clothing items on Craigslist — if that’s what you’re wondering. I donate all of that. Mostly I sell furniture, decorations, kitchen items, garage items, etc. In the past, I would buy items JUST to repurpose/fix/paint and then sell again for a profit – but I don’t have time for that anymore :) However, I do often get products from companies that I don’t need or want — so I usually end up selling those items on Craigslist too.

    Also, one thing to keep in mind, when you donate the item, it’s out of your house for good and you don’t have to think about it every again! That’s worth a lot right there! I know many people who hang onto stuff because they are going to sell it “someday” but they never get around to it, so not only do they not make any money, they also have a house full of stuff they don’t need or want. If you don’t think you will sell it right away, I’d still stay donating it is your best option!

    [Reply]

  4. Anna

    10/10/2013

    Wow! What did you sell for $3000??

    My husband’s really nervous when it comes to Craigslist buying and selling. I’m okay with someone coming to our house as long as my husbnd’s home or it’s during the day (we don’t sell things very often at all anyway). But here have been times I’ve wanted to go pick up an item, but had to wait for my husband to get out of work and by that time it was sold. Oh well. Better safe than sorry?? I’m not worried though – just my husband haha

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    We sold a nearly new piano for the $3000 — which was a really good deal for us :) We wanted to sell it before we moved and did all the construction on our farmhouse. Now that the main floor constructions is basically finished, we’re looking to buy another one!

    We also sold a bunch of fencing this summer for $2000 which was a nice budget boost for our landscaping projects!

    [Reply]

  5. Christina

    10/10/2013

    In my area,I’ve had absolutely no luck selling or for that matter buying. I was trying to find a desk for about 2 weeks, and it was all crap… Seriously people are trying to sell stuff that really should go to the dump. I finally gave up found a very simple desk at target.
    Recently I was trying to sell a Waldorf type doll house with furniture. $40, not one response.. So it’s not a very good option here for me.

    [Reply]

    Donna Reply:

    Christina — you just need to repost. Sometimes the buyer isn’t out there when you are ready to sell so just keep relisting and eventually you may get your item sold, or find the item you wish to buy..

    [Reply]

  6. Jen

    10/10/2013

    That’s pretty much how I do Craigslist, too. I often meet people out, but I also let people come to my house, especially for larger items. I am a little paranoid, though. I’m lucky to be friends with my stay-at-home next-door neighbor and I text her when someone is on their way and she keeps an eye out. When they arrive, she comes to her door and loudly says, “Hi, Jen!” and pretends to be getting her mail and whatnot. lol

    I have let a few people physically come in. I sold some maternity clothes a few years ago and I let the pregnant mommy-to-be try them on in my bathroom while my husband and I chatted with her husband in the living room. She was smart to bring him and we were happy to be accommodating.

    Craigslist can definitely be a safe, even FUN, way to shop/sell. The issue of people coming over all boils down to personal comfort, and like you said, I’ve never had anyone make me feel unsafe or uncomfortable.

    [Reply]

  7. Pamela

    10/10/2013

    Oh, to live in West MI again! I grew up there so I understand what you’re saying. But the Lord has us in Los Angeles right now, and Craigslist here is not the same, unfortunately. :(

    [Reply]

  8. Donna

    10/10/2013

    Another thing Craigslist is good for is the free items. I have found that many things people would typically put in the trash or pay to have recycled can have a great use if you post it for free on Craigslist. For instance I had an old shed on the back of my property. I posted that if someone wanted the wood they could dissemble the shed and haul it off. Sure enough they did. I didn’t have the unwanted shed plus they did the work. Recently I changed some old planters and had hundred of used bricks. Do you know that there is a special fee if you want to dispose of bricks in the landfill? I posted on Craigslist and people just come by and pick them up for all kinds of uses. I’ve found that you cannot donate good but used building supplies to places like Habitat for Humanity but your neighbors can probably put them to good use. I live in the LA area and it works pretty well…

    [Reply]

  9. Laurel

    10/10/2013

    I sell much more than I buy on Craigslist I’m happy to say and I have the person come to my house. I’m in a very nice, safe area, but I love it that I have a larger Boxer. Someone would have to deal with her if they tried anything :). I have listed some things as free on C List and while mostly I sell things, I love giving things away. The people are so appreciative, it feels good and I almost always get a really nice thank you note from them. I have also met some wonderful people on clist.

    [Reply]

  10. Chelsea

    10/10/2013

    I’ve had hit and miss luck with CL. I have sold items in the past and I’m currently selling items now as I go through my sons closet and sell the baby items he’s outgrown. The items that aren’t selling I repost, and eventually lower the price, or re-word my description, maybe provide a link to the item so the buyers can see what it retails for, or maybe even take a new photo…. I’ve had people say they’re interested then not show up. I’ve received spam emails (that I know not to reply to). But, all in all, its been worth my time and the occasional hassle to sell items and make about $500 this summer, which just went towards buying airfare to see family this Christmas!

    Since we live in an apartment, I meet people at the playground. Keeps my son happy while I sell the item(s).

    I agree that it’s best to not hold an item, due to the people I’ve had not show up or cancel.

    In the meantime, I’m cross-posting on Facebook, as I’ve found several local FB groups selling items. It’s interesting in the fact that you do have that persons first and last name before you exchange your personal information.

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  11. Victoria @ Creative Home Keeper

    10/10/2013

    Thanks so much for sharing this. I’ve been sitting on several items that I have wanted to sell on Craig’s list, but I was so unsure about safety and that sort of thing. But I feel much better reading your tips and advice of how you handle meeting with buyers. Now I need to get myself organized and start listing!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    No problem — glad to help! Just use your best judgement and if you ever feel even slightly “off” or get a weird vibe from a buyer, just tell them the item is sold or wait until someone else is home. Better safe than sorry!

    [Reply]

  12. Jen

    10/10/2013

    I have had mediocre luck with Craigslist but a lot of the time, I just want to get rid of stuff NOW so I donate it rather than having to deal with listing, selling, etc.

    I have had some good luck with Freecycle.org in our area (western Baltimore). I’ve gotten a lovely bread machine (my best score!) for totally free on Freecycle. We have also gotten rid of things-trampoline (they came and took it away!), kerosene heater, dryer (to a recent war vet who was most grateful). Each of these times people have been so appreciative and grateful. Freecycle is also a great place to get or get rid of moving boxes! Don’t ever buy them! :-) You’d be shocked at what people will take off your hands! :-)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Wow, a free bread machine — that is a score! I frequently list items for free on Craigslist too — and yes, it’s crazy what people will literally fight over!

    [Reply]

    Lee Cockrum Reply:

    Hi Jen,

    I’m in east Baltimore! I love freecycle as well. I have not even tried to list for free on Craigslist as I use freecycle. I find it is a great place to get rid of things that have use left in them, but are not something that goodwill etc will take. We got rid of the pump motor to our whirlpool bathtub. My husband knew what needed fixing, but did not feel like taking the hours to take it apart. We gave it to a retired gentleman who had plenty of time and was looking for something for something he was making. Have given away several lawn mowers for parts etc.

    [Reply]

  13. Susanne

    10/10/2013

    I haven’t had the best luck with Craigslist. I LOVE it….but the only thing I have purchased required a 3 hour drive to pick it up. We live in a super-rural area. Because of that I have never really considered selling anything on Craigslist.

    [Reply]

  14. Debbie

    10/10/2013

    Most of the stuff I sold on CL was baby stuff we had finished using, so the buyers were consequently all young parents so I felt ok with them coming to my house to get the items. I have met people at public locations as well, and that generally works out for for both parties.

    And I LOVE Freecycle for getting rid of things I can’t donate…I’m ok with giving my address if that means they’ll come pick it up at my front door (I always leave it outside for them to pick up).

    [Reply]

  15. Tanya

    10/10/2013

    Great post. I have a question for you… I am trying to sell my wedding dress and I have it posted on Craigslist and on PreOwnedWeddingDressing. Twice now, I have received 2 text messages asking if I would accept a cashiers check or a paypay transaction. Now I am not one to sell a lot of stuff online, but I thought I would give it a try, since I am trying to make a little extra money.
    After sending a couple messages back and forth, they stated it was for a cousin who is getting married and this person wanted to suprise them. (who buys a wedding dress without seeing it, first. (Maybe it is just me, but I wouldn’t).
    Then I kindly asked the person to call me and they stated they could not call me, because they were hearing impared. (Ok, I know some people are and I didn’t want to judge.)
    Then I dug a little deeper and Googled the phone number and found out it was a scam.
    I am very glad that I did not proceed with this transacation. (I do hope that I can sell it soon)
    The second person was very similar, but this person wanted to send it over seas.
    Needless to say, this isn’t working for me very well.

    I think I am going to stick with local transactions. :-)
    Any suggestions?

    Thank you,
    Tanya

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, text messages are almost always a scam — that is, if they are the very first means of contact. And ANY time the person says they are deaf, it’s almost certainly a scam :) This is one reason I don’t list my phone number on the add — because of the texting thing. I wait for the person to contact me via email and then if necessary, I’ll give out my phone number.

    In general, I would say that adult clothing doesn’t sell well on Craigslist (kid’s clothing is a totally different story!). I never list clothing on Craigslist and also tried (and failed) to sell my wedding dress back in the day. I ended up cutting up my wedding dress and using the fabric for different things. In fact, if you’re interested, here’s a post with lots more ideas of ways to repurpose a wedding dress.

    Good luck!

    [Reply]

    Rita Reply:

    First, thanks to Andrea for the great series on Craigslist. I was very hesitant about selling on CL; but after reading Andrea’s posts last year, I took the plunge and was so happy I did! I sold a mid-Century dresser that I bought for $15 at the thrift store and sold it for over $300 on CL!! I loved that they paid cash and hauled it away too! I have sold several other items since then and am SOLD on Craigslist.

    I do want to say, however, that my contacts have all been via text. I live in Southern Calif. and apparently people use texting alot! I actually prefer it over email because I can answer right away and snag that sale before they go elsewhere. Once, I received a text while at the thrift store and by the end of the day, I had made another sale. Not once have I ever had a scam texter.

    Thanks for the great information!

    [Reply]

  16. Rebecca

    10/10/2013

    Ooooo, I’m so struggling with this Craigslist topic! My husband and I married almost 2 years ago and have an almost one-year old baby. We are still trying to merge 2 households FULL of Very Nice “Stuff” into one modest house…in our “spare time” when we are not chasing our nap-less little one around! We have a lot of extra household items, kitchen items, decorations, etc. I used to work full-time and weighed everything against my hourly rate. Usually it worked out better to just donate the items, take a tax deduction and pick up more hours at work, instead. Now, I stay home full-time with baby and I don’t have an income. So, the frugal side of me would like to sell items and make money! And, extra money would be useful. But, the overwhelmed side of me is thinking …it’s…well, too overwhelming…especially considering how many items there are. I posted once on Craigslist and a FB sale site, but had no luck…it could be that I needed to adjust something in the post to make it more appealing. The household items we have are all very nice, which makes me feel more strongly that I should sell them. But, I often wonder how life would feel and what opportunities might open up if I just donated everything and cleared it out quickly – regardless of how much I could have *possibly* sold it all for. I’d REALLY love to hear how others have handled similar situations! Thoughts, Anyone??? Thanks in Advance :)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Well Rebecca, this is a tough question — but one that almost EVERY person struggles with at some time or another. It’s tricky when you could actually use the money but still don’t necessarily have the time to devote to such a large project.

    Since it sounds like you’ve already been holding onto this stuff for 2 years now — if you honestly don’t think you’ll sell it in the next couple of months, I’d donate it before the end of the year and take the tax deduction.

    Another idea would be to pick 3-5 items RIGHT NOW and list t hem on Craigslist this weekend (weekends are the best). Be very descriptive, include pictures, and keep the prices low. If they sell quickly, try it again with 3-5 items next weekend. If they don’t sell and you feel overwhelmed or annoyed, then consider donating those items and trying again with other items (or just donating everything).

    I totally get wanting the extra cash — but I also completely understand just wanting the stuff out of your house for good. Both are fabulous options — it just depends on how much effort you want to put in, if you enjoy that sort of thing, and if you live in a good location to be selling things on Craigslist.

    Hope this helps!

    [Reply]

  17. Cheri

    11/03/2013

    First of all, LOVE your blog. Secondly, I saw this most recent Craigslist post, which sent me to search out the series of them. Your articles lit a fire under me, and I FINALLY listed a dining room set and a daybed that have been sitting in my garage for two months now just waiting for me to “get around to it.” I took all of your advice, snapped some pictures, and posted the items with complete measurements and all the details that I would want to know if I were buying. I listed the items at 9:00 last night, and I’m happy to say that I sold both by 3:00 this afternoon, cash in hand! Probably would have sold sooner but we didn’t show anything until after church. I even had emails coming to me within 30 minutes of listing the first item! The first two people who looked at the items ended up buying them. And one of them saw a table in my garage that I hadn’t had time to list yet, and she bought it on the spot. Made me want to drag some other pieces outside real quick! Just wanted to thank you for sharing your tips! I’m scouring our house for other items to list now! THANKS!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    wow — awesome! It sounds like you priced the items low enough to get immediate sales (which is always my goal).

    I’m sure it feels great to get the stuff out of your garage AND have a little extra cash in hand. Happy selling!

    [Reply]

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