The 5 best things to buy or sell on Craigslist

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How to compete with Craigslist and Ikea

Oh, the choppy public waters one must navigate on Craigslist. For every successful transaction, about a dozen fall through. How do you know what will work? These are the five things you should always buy or sell on Craigslist.

1. Home Appliances

Refrigerators, dishwashers, A/C units, and laundry washers and dryers are the kind of machines perfect for buying and selling on Craigslist. They're really expensive when bought new, but remain useful for years and years, so they retain a good hunk of their original value. Why buy a brand new washer/dryer combo for $1000, when you can get a slightly older one for $400? Remember to check for warranties, if possible, which could increase an appliance's used value.

2. Electronics

At some point, nearly everyone has to buy or sell a computer, phone, stereo, TV, or printer. Nearly all electronics do well on Craigslist for that reason, and because they hold their resale value well. The best and fastest sellers are whatever is most in demand at the time: Apple products such as the iPad, iPhone, and Watch will yield dozens of offers in a day. When buying, remember to check the median eBay price for the item before making an offer, so that you are not paying extra for a used product.

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Flowers

Although it may be more convenient to purchase flowers online, if you have time, it's best to locate a local florist near the person you want to send flowers to. According to a study by Cheapism.com, you're more likely to pay less and receive a better bouquet for your money when you use a local florist. 

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Furniture 

You may not realize it, but when you purchase furniture online, you also have to pay for delivery and surcharge fees. In order to avoid paying these unwanted costs, it's easier to get it in person. For example, when buying furniture in-store, you're able to negotiate a better price and maybe even convince the salesperson to throw in free delivery. 

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Groceries 

Much like shopping for flowers, it is best to purchase your groceries at an actual grocery store. When you purchase them in person, you have the opportunity ensure you are choosing the best meats, produce, etc. -- something you can't do when ordering online.

 Photo credit: Getty

Swimwear 

As beach season rapidly approaches, you probably want to invest in a few new swimsuits. However, before you make that online purchase you'll want to heed this warning. Trae Bodge, senior editor at RetailMeNot, says, " Fit can fluctuate even among suits from the same brand...  and many online retailers don’t allow swimsuit returns if the packaging has been opened or there’s evidence the suit has been worn." 

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Social Media Followers 
We get it, social media is addicting.  While it may be cool to have over 10,000 followers, buying them can be risky. Depending on the social media site you are using, the followers you purchase can be deleted if they are considered spam accounts. 

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Prescriptions 
Unless advised by your doctor, you should avoid buying medicine online at all costs. It can be tempting to get off-brand products, but you may be unknowingly purchasing illegal or counterfeit drugs. 

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Cars
The internet has made it possible to cut out the middleman when dealing with major purchases, but sometimes, that salesperson is needed. If you're buying a car for the first time, it may be best to get it at a dealership. When you get a car online, you're taking away the opportunity to test it out first and negotiate a better deal. 

Photo credit: Getty

Knockoff Accessories 
While getting counterfeit bags and jewelry is cheaper than buying the real thing, you should do so with much caution. Oftentimes, these items are sold on unsecured sites which can lead to either your computer getting a virus or your identity being stolen. 

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Pets
While you can find an array of pets being sold online, it is always safest to purchase one in person. Much like furniture, you may have to deal with excessive delivery fees, and what's more, your pet can get sick or even worse. 

Photo credit: Getty

Fragile Items
If you're truly invested in a fragile or irreplaceable item, it's highly recommended to buy and pick it up in the store. This cuts out any chances of a delivery person dropping and breaking your prized possession. 

Photo credit: Getty

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3. Cars

Another inelastic need most people will buy at least once in their lifetime, cars do very well on Craigslist. If you're selling your car, you need good photos, the full car history, and a fair price based on the Kelly Blue Book value. If you're buying, the most important thing to watch out for are sellers who try to pass off a salvage title or a ticking time bomb of a car that has not been repaired. Be sure to fully test drive the car, and ask to bring it to a diagnostic mechanic before buying. If the seller won't allow that, consider it a big red flag.

4. High-End Furniture

Solid, well-maintained furniture also holds its value very well. The holy grail of big-ticket lifestyle items, stylish mid-century modern furniture is still extremely popular and in demand — even a basic but finely made oak dresser or table will do great on Craigslist. Some great items that are easy to sell and easy to shop for are bed frames, dressers, dining sets, new couches, and lamps. Riskier pieces would be mattresses, older couches, and rugs — you never know how clean those will actually be, so new is always better than used for those items.

5. Power Tools

When the inevitable time comes to fix the furniture, cars, and appliances you bought on Craigslist, you can go right back to Craigslist for a toolkit, a drill, a sander — you name it. The secondary market for power tools is healthy and reasonably fair for both sellers and buyers. As a seller, keep your eye out for how much the new versions sell for on Home Depot, Amazon, and Walmart to be sure you're within the right pricing zone. As a buyer, remember you can always make an offer a little lower than asking price — it never hurts to negotiate.

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1. Clear your browser history

Some retailers might sneakily increase prices based on your browsing patterns and demand - so make sure to always clear your history and cookies before shopping! 

Photo credit: Shutterstock

2. Use an alternate email address

When you log in to a retailer's site with a new email address, retailers will often welcome you as a new customer with exciting new promotions and discounts. 

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3. Note price changes throughout the week

Another pro tip: Prices and deals can fluctuate based on the day of the week. For instance, if you're purchasing a flight, monitor prices for around a week to see if they take a dip on any particular day before purchasing. 

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4. Let items linger in your cart

Here's a hack: Add items to your cart, but let them sit for 24 hours before purchasing. The retailer might attempt to lure you back with additional discounts.

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5. Check out multiple sites

Do some research! Don't settle for the first price you see - poke around on a search engine and find the best deal. 

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6. Bargain with customer service

Use customer service to your advantage. If you ask (politely!) about an expired coupon, you'll often find yourself pleasantly surprised by an extension or new code! 

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7. Don't purchase impulsively

Try this shopping hack - don't buy that shiny, new toy right away. Step away for a few hours, and if you find yourself itching to go back and click 'purchase', then you know you won't regret your investment!

Photo credit: FogStock

8. Avoid shipping fees

Take advantage of free shipping! If you are a few dollars below the free shipping price point, add a low-cost filler item you need anyway (like socks!) and make the math work out in your favor. 

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What items do you frequently sell or buy on Craigslist?

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