10 Tips for Selling Furniture on Craigslist

Do you have furniture that you no longer need and want?  If so, here are tips for selling it on Craigslist.

1) Take many pictures from every angle before creating a listing. Make sure they are in focus and well lighted. Take measurements. When creating your posting, list it as being “for sale by owner.”

2) Don’t simply list a “queen bed” Write a descriptive heading. “Wood queen platform bed storage drawers” is far more useful to would-be buyers who don’t fancy scrolling hundreds of vague listings. Be redundant. Some people may search on “sofa,” others on “couch;” some on “sofa bed” or “sleeper; some on “dresser” or “chest.” Use both words in your heading. If a piece can be used for more than one purpose, perhaps as an accent/occasional table and as a nightstand, use those words in your listing. If you’re selling something from a popular retailer, say so, as in “Pottery Barn brown Greenwich sofa/couch.”

3) Be truthful about the condition. Cite dings, marks or tears, and include photos. Buyers know that they are buying used furniture and don’t necessarily expect “like new.” But they do want to be informed before trekking to see something.

4) Price your furniture reasonably and be willing to break up sets. Yes, your bedroom set is solid wood and originally cost $3,000. But people are looking for deals on Craigslist. Many buyers are young people who may not have room for a five-piece bedroom set or sofa plus loveseat and matching armchairs. So price to sell and be willing to sell piece by piece. In my experience, you should expect to sell your furniture for no more than one-third to one-half of what you paid for it, depending on age and condition.

5) Realize that Craigslist buyers have little interest in antique or traditional furniture. I once saw a set of eight traditional dining room chairs, selling for $2,000, but relisted weekly for months. If the style wasn’t a deterrent, the price certainly was. Most Craigslist buyers want transitional or modern furniture. So if you’re listing trendy, high-end modern furniture from retailers such as Design Within Reach or Roche Bobois, you might sell it for a good price. Craigslist probably isn’t the place where folks willing to spend $2,000 on, say, a set of dining room chairs will look.

6) Be prepared to negotiate. Would-be-buyers routinely offer less than your asking price. If your price is firm, say so in your listing. You can always ignore lowball offers or make a counter offer. But remember that the goal is to sell your piece and get money in return, even if it’s less than you would like.

7) If a piece is difficult for one person to move, say so. Ditto if steps are involved. I find it helpful when sellers include a map giving a general indication of where they live. I’m in a large metropolitan area and appreciate knowing whether sellers are within a reasonable driving distance.

8) Refresh your ad every couple of days to move it back to the top of the list and renew it as soon as it expires. Recently, I listed a BILLY bookcase for sale but didn’t receive a single inquiry. When I refreshed the posting about five days later, multiple emails arrived within hours. So don’t give up immediately. If your listing has been posted for two weeks and you’ve had no bites, you probably need to lower your price — a lot.

9) Be aware of spam or fraud. Include this line in your listing: “If you are reading this, xxxx is still available.” Then ignore one-line emails asking if the piece is still available. Similarly, never respond to folks who offer to pay for something in advance and to have a moving company contact you to make arrangements.

10) Be cautious. I have sold many items on Craigslist for many years, as have many of my clients, and never had problems. But I understand that many people are uneasy about having strangers enter their home. Consider moving sale furniture to your garage rather than having buyers enter your home. Always have another person present when potential buyers visit.

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