How To Sell on Craigslist: Listed Our Honda For Sale and Scored

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2008-09-1519

We listed our Honda for sale on Craigslist, our favorite online classifieds web site. Sold it in 4 days.

Remember the car we bought a month ago? Well now that we have that car, we had to sell our old one. We sold it through Craigslist and the process was easy as pie. We had listed the car at a price equivalent to its blue book value — $7,000 for a Honda Civic with 100,000+ miles on it.

We had a few interested buyers, and even one suspicious one who hailed from Sacramento: this buyer’s email messages and terms sounded “odd”; he was offering a pretty good price on the car sight unseen. While other buyers wanted to negotiate, he sounded eager about buying the car at full price without checking it out first. And why would he want to drive all the way to the Bay Area just to buy a used car? Ah, it all sounded too suspicious and too good to be true. I could just imagine him chomping at the bit for the chance to offer us a money order or cashier’s check, no questions asked. So we didn’t bother pursuing this lead. Sure, it could have been a legitimate lead, but I’ll take my losses. During times like these, I refer to my tips for selling safely online to guide our decisions.

Fortunately, within a day, we got a buyer to settle on a decent price (around $500 off our original offer) — a young man and his mother came to a doorstep, did a test run and left happy. And we too, were left happy as we tucked our money away and got that smooth car sale out of the way — just one more among the many car sale experiences we’ve had through the years. Though we’ll miss our pretty dependable import, we’re very satisfied with the slick and fairly new family wagon we replaced our old car with.

Here’s the car we said goodbye to:

honda civic 1999
The car we sold, a Honda Civic Si.

black honda civic

Before I go, I’d like to leave you with some parting tips. From my own experience as a loyal user of Craigslist, I compiled some thoughts on how to list and sell your stuff online:

Quick Tips To Sell On Craigslist

#1 Use pictures. I still don’t know why there are ads that don’t include images. If I were a buyer, I’d immediately filter out those ads without accompanying photos. Who would buy something sight unseen (maybe potential scammers)?

#2 Be descriptive about what you’re selling. You only have a few seconds to catch someone’s attention.

#3 Write a good ad title. What’s good? Avoid overloading your title with punctuation marks and caps and whatever else that can put off your audience. Strange ads are a good way to scare off potential buyers. Have someone else review your ad to ensure its palatability.

#4 Deal with local buyers as much as possible so you can easily screen them. Try to pick up information about your buyer wherever you can find it. They may have an internet footprint, or a conversation with them over the phone may help you get a feel for who you are dealing with before you even meet with them. According to Craigslist’s scam manifesto, you’ll avoid 99% of scam attempts by meeting your buyer in person.

#5 Be patient. If you’re selling a popular item, there will always be a buyer out there for your stuff — at the right price. Fortunately, I have never had a problem selling anything worth selling by posting it on Craigslist. The stuff I have trouble selling won’t move for good reason (not enough value or use left in them) so I donate them instead and take the tax deductions.

#6 Price your item right. If the price is too high, you may not get enough interest. If it’s too low, potential buyers may become suspicious of your listing.

#7 Have an electronic trail of your correspondence with interested parties. Any kind of trail is useful, in case you need to refer to it at a later time (and hopefully you never have to!).

#8 Beware of fake or bounced checks and money orders. Because of this, it’s a good idea to transact with cash.

#9 Find your right sale price. Your sale’s success hinges on your ability to value your item in the used market. An item will sell for the “right price”: you can figure this out by periodically readjusting your price to gauge interest and by checking similar ad listings to your own.

By the way, I’ve also scored well by doing my online shopping with Craigslist, where we’ve picked up some awesome bargains on furniture and housewares. I’ve saved lots of time and money by going to sites like these through the years and frankly wouldn’t know what to do if these online services didn’t exist. Can you imagine having to revert to traditional paper listings, garage sales, dealerships and brick and mortar consignment centers to get the job done? 😉 Find out more about my thoughts on this topic in my post: Great Places to Earn and Save Money on Used Items.

Copyright © 2008 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

CMOE September 15, 2008 at 1:31 pm

Another tip I found for selling on Craigslist is to put a URL to your blog if you have one. This adds a measure of credibility to your ad if you say an easy way to contact me is either through my blog or by using Craigslist.

Silicon Valley Blogger September 15, 2008 at 1:57 pm

Yes, that sounds like a great idea! I haven’t yet encountered Craigslist ads with links to blogs, but as part of your contact info, it sounds like a good way, as you say, to let people you know you’re on the up-and-up (unless of course you want to keep anonymous 😉 ).

TigerTom September 15, 2008 at 2:40 pm

‘Cash only’ is essential. And I’d check the notes.

Glad this worked for you. I’ll have some stuff to sell in November, so I might use Craigslist as well as local forums. eBay has the ‘eyeballs’ but its charges are annoying.

RetiredAt47 September 16, 2008 at 5:57 am

These are good tips for selling online in general. I started selling on eBay when it was just a few months old and discovered many of the same tips work when listing there.

So did your buyer show up with almost $7000 in cash? I have thought about larger Craigslist transactions such as this one and, though I’ve nevered entered into one, wondered if PayPal might be another option.

Budgets are Sexy. September 16, 2008 at 6:54 am

There you go, congrats! i just old my suv on CL last month, and while it wasn’t THAT easy (turns out SUVs certainly are on the endangered list!) it all worked out nicely. I even posted it on other sites at the same time, spending about $70, but CL won the round as always…the 3rd time i’ve sold a car on it 😉

jim of Blueprint for Financial Prosperity September 16, 2008 at 8:19 am

Now sell one on eBay! 🙂

MoneyBeagle September 16, 2008 at 9:16 am

Great post! I’ve often wondered about how to best go about selling on Craigslist with a big ticket item like that. I did use eBay to sell a car about 3 years ago, and that went well.

Thanks for the tips!

Savings Toolbox September 20, 2008 at 5:33 pm

Thanks for providing real-life scenarios and tips for selling on craigslist.

I think alot of people would be pleasantly surprised at the postive results you get using such sites but many don’t bother trying because they “don’t know how”.

Congrats on getting what you wanted and thanks for taking notes!

Dom September 23, 2008 at 1:40 pm

I am curious about the cash only part… from the buyers’ perspective, would they be comfortable in handing over $7k of dough? What protection do they have in the transaction (e.g. I suppose they would want to make sure that the ownership of the car is properly transferred, etc.)

Charlie October 24, 2009 at 5:03 am

Tip #9 is a bit off. If you post your car multiple times on CL, buyers may wonder why your car hasn’t sold on it’s first posting. Most people assume something is wrong with the car and won’t waste their time. I’ve made this mistake before.

I was advised by a potential buyer to keep my ad short and concise. People don’t want to hear your story or excuses for some of your car’s faults. Include the year, mileage, vehicle specifics (engine size, trim level, options, etc). Just like a newspaper ad, I wouldn’t suggest too many cons unless they are drastic (salvage title, doesn’t run). Once buyers make the journey and see your car, they are probably more likely to overlook any minor faults your vehicle may have.

Great tips on dealing with buyers but I would suggest a short and concise ad, with pictures of the front and rear from 3/4 view, an interior shot, and an odometer shot. Best of luck to all you sellers out there.

Garage Sale October 27, 2009 at 5:34 am

With tip number 8 you should mention that if you’ve decided to use cash, you should always go to the bank before signing over the title to verify things. This should also be done for your own peace of mind.

Francis October 30, 2009 at 9:10 pm

Craigslist is one hell of an advertiser, and it truly gets the people’s attention. It’s a good score selling that car within 4 days alone. Great source of ads indeed!

Ken Harrop June 25, 2010 at 7:11 am

Its really important to price your car correctly, too much and you risk frightening people away, too cheap and you are losing out! Always pitch a car between trade and retail value and you will always get a fair price for your vehicle.

Johnny @ Selling Your Property September 1, 2010 at 7:03 pm

Very good tips, and I will need them as I am trying to sell a truck that just hit 100k. I noticed that you didn’t state how your financial transaction went through. I am wondering the best way to have the title and money transfer at the same time where there isn’t a problem either way. Anyways, thanks for the good info.

blah blah March 12, 2011 at 8:42 am

Tip # 10 … Respond to your Potential Customers in a Timely Fashion (IE: camp by the computer the very same day you post your ad, or check email often during the week of posting your ad)

I was in the market for a laptop computer. I emailed almost 10 people about their ads…I only received 1 response. Wow…these must really be motivated sellers. I batted emails with the guy that responded all day, b/c it would take him 3 hours to reply. I finally felt like maybe I was interested in seeing this…so…

Tip # 11 … Make time for your Potential Customers to SEE your item, and DEMONSTRATE IT TO THEM

… I ask to see the item. He says it’ll be next week sometime, because he’s too busy watching the big game on Sunday to make time for me. Wow, really? Obviously I just sat on my butt and did nothing until the next week, right? WRONG. I kept shopping. After 30 more minutes, I decided I was going to get a netbook instead. Days go by, this guy emails me wondering why I didn’t meet him at the designated time/place? I email him back saying I didn’t have time to wait around for some lazy seller that couldn’t make more appropriate time for me, so figured him wasting his time expecting me was sufficient payback. I’m the customer, and he lost me by not catering to me. He sent me a reply saying he was upset, because he put-off several other folks so he could “reserve” the item just for me and that his time was now wasted. Told him now he knows how I felt, so maybe next time he’ll do a better job.

Eliza Thorne August 20, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Great tips on how to sell off your car on Craigslist, I certainly wish that I could have thought of doing that when I was selling my old Honda. I do not know if I would feel comfortable with accepting any form of payment other than cash, and on the other side, I would not feel comfortable trying to purchase a car from someone with a wad of cash either… Good thing I found the best of the Honda dealers Los Angeles has to offer at Honda of Downtown Los Angeles and traded up to a brand new Civic, and did not have to worry about being scammed!

Leave a Comment