Tips for Craigslist Buyers

If you are looking to buy an item using Craigslist, I have a very simple, two-word tip: Don’t wait. Buyers that wait on buying an item usually don’t get a chance to buy it because someone else will be ready to buy within a couple of hours. And most sellers are ready to sell as soon as they get a serious buyer. Why would a seller give someone three days to arrange a pickup when someone else is ready to come and buy it within two hours?


Honestly, I have only bought a few things on Craigslist. I have sold hundreds and hundreds of things, but I have only purchased a few. However, after selling so many things on CL, I have a clear idea of the people that are successful buyers and a clear idea of the people that aren’t very good at buying on CL. Here is what I have learned.

Unsuccessful Buyers

The most unsuccessful buyers, in my experience, are the people that send an email about an item. Responding to an ad is a very informal process. Most people that respond to my ads don’t care (or know) about using proper grammar and spelling. If you seem like an idiot in your message, why would I want to meet you in person and sell something to you?

craigslist catI understand in a lot of cases, Yahoo is the only way to contact a seller since the seller might not feel comfortable leaving a phone number. But if you are going to send an email, at least send a coherent message. I get a lot of messages that are sentence fragments, I get emails asking questions that are already answered in the ad, and I get a lot of emails that just say “50”. As in, $50 is their offer, but they were too busy to type any other text around the 50 to make it an actual sentence and make a real offer. Nope, just 50. And my response to those buyers is always “No”, even if they make a reasonable offer.

Be Smart, and Quick

Savvy buyers that use email as their form of communication on Craigslist will send a message showing their interest and leave a phone number. They will also include a time-frame in which they can meet to buy the item. However, the biggest downfall buyers that use email is that they are constantly looking for the best deal. And they wait.


They may email me telling me how interested they are in the item, but after they send the email, they are scrolling through the next round of items in the category trying to find a better deal than I am offering. If I respond to their inquiry, they don’t need to respond. This is why the people that email a seller are the most unsuccessful.

There is a simple solution to being a great Craigslist buyer. And I only need one word to describe the best and simplest tip you will ever read: Call! Almost all of my sales have gone to people that called me.

Solution to Buying on Craigslist

And the most successful buyers are the buyers that are ready to buy. People that call me to ask if the item is still available, then tell me they will check back in a few days to buy it are the people that never call back and never show up to buy. That is because they were never serious about buying in the first place. It feels good to make an attempt at getting a bargain and saving some money by calling an ad on CL, but if you are calling just to ask questions, you really aren’t serious about buying.

So all of this leads me to a very simple tip if you want to be successful at getting things from people. Call the seller if there is a phone number in the ad. And be ready with cash in hand to buy the item the moment you call the seller. Make sure you have the proper transportation and be ready to go get it ASAP.

Calling vs. the Email

Emailing and calling to ask questions just wastes a seller’s time. I have sold hundreds of items to callers that were ready to buy. Even if I have 10 emailers interested in an item, I will always sell it to a caller that is ready to buy. Email is too slow. Calling with cash-in-hand works the best as a buyer. And as the old saying goes, the early bird gets the worm.

Bottom line: If you want to sell on Craigslist, include a phone number. If you want to buy on Craigslist, call that phone number.

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