18 Useful Tips Every Craigslist User Should Know
There are the spammers, the creepers, and then the stuff you actually want.
1. Google a seller’s email address before you email them.
You can even go one step further. Once they email you back with their personal email address, enter the email into your Facebook search box. From there, you can decide if it’s someone you want to do business with.
If you’re a seller, it’s also wise to cyberstalk someone via their email address before letting them into your home.
2. Use the hyphens in your searches to exclude keywords.
For instance, “Couch -ikea” will exclude all Ikea couches.
3. Also, the pipe key “|” lets you do an OR search so you can simultaneously search multiple keywords.
“Townhouse | condo” will return every result with townhouse OR condo in the title (or both).
This is a great way to search for an item that might have multiple names (table vs. desk for instance) or have a commonly misspelled word in its title.
4. Need furniture? Check Craigslist at the end of the academic year.
ChazWags / Creative Commons
You’ll get college students who are trying to get rid of their stuff ASAP, and probably for cheap. It’s a good time to lowball.
5. Use a Google Voice number when buying or selling on Craigslist, just in case your phone number becomes compromised.
Or live with the consequence of a stranger calling you and leaving creepy messages every day into eternity (true story).
6. Meet in public places that have security cameras.
[ henning ] / Creative Commons
Gas stations, big box stores like Best Buy, and fast food restaurants all have security cameras installed just in case anything sketchy happens.
7. An easy way to get updated search results is to subscribe to the RSS feed of your search.
It’s a lifesaver if you’re apartment hunting. Do a search as you normally would and scroll down to the bottom of the page. Click on the yellow RSS button to get the RSS feed. You’ll get updated results in your feed reader instead of having to repeatedly come back to Craigslist. You can also star listings you want to save and “mark as read” on duplicate listings.
8. If you’re looking for a rare item over the span of several cities, use SearchTempest.
If you’re willing to drive long distances to get a good price, SearchTempest lets you search by mile radius. You can also quickly check for items on eBay to determine what the going price is.
9. Use a separate email just for your Craigslist transactions.
And be sure to check the junk/spam folder, because replies can end up there.
10. Run a quick Apple hardware test if you’re buying a used Mac.
The instructions vary depending on which operating system is installed, so ask ahead of time and check this tutorial.
11. Apartment hunting? Never send someone your credit report, especially if it’s through a website of their specification.
You could get ripped off from a third party or phishing site. Most reputable rental agencies can pull a credit report with your authorization.
The same thing goes for potential employers, as there are definitely scammers in the help wanted section on Craigslist.
12. To bypass Craigslist’s photo limit, upload your images to imgur.com and post the accompanying HTML code into your listing.
Craigslist only allows you to upload a maximum of four photos. The photos are also reduced in quality when they get uploaded to Craigslist’s servers, so you’re usually better off using a photo hosting site like Imgur instead.
For full directions, click here.
13. If you’re selling a bunch of items at once, group your listings together by adding the same random word/number combination to the bottom of each listing.
Do a search for that combination and you can use the URL to promote all of your listings at once. You can post the link to your Facebook or include it in your emails to potential buyers who might offer you a deal for more than one item.
14. If you’re doing extensive searching, click the “pic” checkbox and the gallery view button so you can just do a quick scan of the items available.
This is definitely the way to go if you’re trying to find furniture.
15. Follow this flowchart to accurately describe your used furniture:
16. If buying a used iPhone, check the sensors for water damage.
Bring a flashlight so you can check the dock connector and headphone jack for any signs of RED (a sign that the phone has been immersed in water or subjected to heavy humidity). Get the full directions here.
17. Score good stuff for cheap with the following search strings:
Phrases like:“My wife/husband is making me”“My wife/husband doesn’t like”“My wife/husband won’t let me”“But now we have kids”are a great way to find fun and/or luxury items that people are getting rid of.
Phrases and words like:“Leaving country”“Liquidation”“End of lease”“Must go”“No reasonable offer refused”“Everything must go”“ASAP”mean that you have wiggle room to negotiate or lowball.
Unless you’re really cheap.