I love bargains and am the son of an avid garage sale shopper. While growing up in Chicago, my mother would frequently go 'garage-saling' (as she called it). For me, however, I don't have the patience to drive all over town and peruse driveways filled with potential treasures. I like to employ my computer savvy and Internet business expertise to turn my bargain hunting into a high tech adventure. What I am going to focus on in this article is Craigslist. Yes, I know they have a pretty shabby record in the morality department but they are still the top dog when it comes to online classifieds. As a Christian I find much I don't like about Craigslist, but they have closed their adult section down completely about a year ago. I guess that is a start.
I have made two major purchases in the last 30 days and using the methods in this article saved about $4,000 off the book value of the items I purchased.
This Is A Great Video – Don't Skip It
Jim's List Of Ways To Get Bargains From Craigslist
1. Search More Than Just Your Local Craigslist
Depending on the amount of money involved, expanding your search beyond your local Craigslist (hereinafter 'CL') may be very worthwhile. A car, boat, or other high ticket item may vary in price by thousands of dollars. It may simply be random that another CL has a better deal than your local one, but there may also be a reason for it. One article I read recently pointed out that depressed areas simply have lower prices on items listed in CL. For example, someone in Illinois would likely find lower prices in the CL Detroit (or for that matter most of Michigan). Would you drive 200 or 300 miles to save $1,000 to $1,500? Most people would (including me). Be sure and do some thorough questioning over the phone to be sure it is worth the drive. Additionally, ask for more pictures and let the seller know that you need these before you make the decision to drive the distance. After you have done your due diligence, you take the chance and go on an adventure and see if after 'kicking the tires' you have truly found a bargain.
Sites providing multiple CL searches:
There are also some really great iPhone apps that do global CL searches as well, just do a quick search in the app store and you will find them.
2. No Pictures & Poor Description May Mean A Big Opportunity For You
You have probably seen the ads in craigslist that look something like this:
Nice 20 ft Used Sailboat $4,500 Call Reggie xxx-xxx
Some sellers just have no marketing skills and this is the best they can do. Not only is there not much helpful information in this ad, it doesn't even have a picture. Some people routinely skip ads without a picture, especially when shopping for a car, boat, or RV. This means that the supply of buyers on this item will be much lower than on those with a picture. Why doesn't the item have a picture? Well, it could be because it is trashed, but more than likely it is someone that does not know how to upload pictures or does not want the hassle of dealing with it. I know a man in my area that buys motorcycles from Craigslist ads that have no pictures or very poor pictures. He cleans up the motorcycle and takes great pictures and runs his own ad and resells the bikes for a quick profit. He does this over and over again simply taking advantage of the lower prices that these 'picture challenged' ads will yield.
You should not drive 200 miles to look at at an item that does not have a picture (as outlined in my first strategy above), but it would be worth a local drive in town to take a quick look. Many ads without pictures get little if any phone calls. This means you can really negotiate for a great price.
3. Ads Without A Phone Number May Lead To Better Deals
Many people don't want to list their phone number so they play the e mail game with you and only give you their phone number when it appears likely that you will be a buyer of their item. Many buyers don't have the patience to deal with this and will skip an ad without a phone number. Again, just as in #2 above something to consider when doing your searching.
4. Set Automatic Alerts & Be The First To Know Of New Listings
I use an app on my iPhone called PingMe that notifies me in real time of any new listings that meet my criteria. I can select one or more CL's and it will check about every 10 minutes looking for my keywords. This is a fantastic tool to make it possible to be the first one to know about a new listing. This gives you a very powerful advantage in the buying process. In fact, people will react a bit startled when you call them as they may have just placed the ad and walked away from their computer when your call came in.
CL Alerts allows for real time searching and alerts. This is especially powerful when searching for apartment or home rentals in competitive markets (but will also work for any item).
Got your own Craigslist bargain finding strategy? List it below in the comments section.
Helping you make the most of God’s money!