How to Use Craigslist like a Pro

I’ve been using Craigslist for the past decade. I’ve probably made 50+ transactions and everything has gone off without a hitch. I’ve bought and sold goods ranging from a DVD player to a car. A lot of people are nervous about using the service. When I tell people I like Craigslist, they usually respond with silly statements about a ‘Craigslist killer’ etc. Basing things off statistics, you’re pretty darn unlikely to come eye-to-eye with someone who wants to put you in their trunk. If you’re willing to give Craigslist a try, here’s what I’ve learned over the past decade.


How to Search Craigslist

Before any deals can happen, you need to search the site. If you’re a buyer, I recommend you don’t use Instead, use This site aggregates all the local Craigslist pages. It makes browsing a LOT faster. You don’t have to search one area of town and then move to another and begin your search all over again. You can set parameters such as ‘distance in miles’. This is especially helpful if you live in a somewhat rural/suburban location. You can forget this step if you’re not willing to go any distance for a product/service.

If you’re a seller, you still have to use to post your ad.


Research Before Shopping

Just like any other kind of shopping, research first! People can list an item at any price they feel like. If the car you want is listed for $5,000, don’t even consider that price. It’s all about what you’re willing to pay. I’ve never met a seller who’s not willing to negotiate. Before you go on SearchTempest, know how much you will pay for an item.

Also, understand common problems with an item. When I bought my car off Craigslist, I knew that the head gaskets get weak on 2nd generation Eclipses with the 420a motor around 100,000 miles. I checked for all signs of a weak head gasket before making an offer.


Research Before Selling

If you’re selling a product, scope out the competition. What are like items listed for? Are they selling or do they keep getting reposted? You may get excited when you see that yard tools similar to yours are listed in the hundreds of dollars. But all that means is they are listed for hundreds. I could put my used socks on Craigslist for $10 million. Find out if the products are actually selling. Don’t be afraid to reach out to those sellers and ask them questions to gauge your competition. Keep in mind that people use Craigslist because it’s the easiest way to sell something. Make it easy for a buyer. Post pictures (a MUST), be short yet descriptive in your writing, post a cell number they can text, say when you’re available to meet up, post a price.


How to Meet via Craigslist

Obviously, you don’t want to invite a stranger to your house. And if at all avoidable, don’t go to their house. Exceptions include buying a backyard playset, etc. But if you have to meet at their house, message them at least 5-6 times to get a feel for if they are a creep or not. Meet where there is a lot of foot traffic and preferably security cameras. A mall, Best Buy, downtown shopping center, etc. will work. Although I’ve never felt uncomfortable during a transaction, this is just a wise precaution to take.

If at all possible, TAKE A FRIEND! A friend will make you seem more powerful. This is handy when negotiating and when protecting yourself in case the Craigslist killer turns out to be in your neighborhood. However, I haven’t once felt like I needed a body guard to come with me. And I’m a rather skinny fellow with an innocent looking face.


How to Pay

I usually pay with cash because cash speaks volumes. People love its look, it’s feeling. All that gets lost in a boring paper check. However, if you’re worried about getting mugged, you can write a check or bring a cashier’s check or teller’s check from your bank. Banks/credit unions typically charge $1-$5 for this service. I don’t recommend bringing a teller’s or cashier’s check though because you can’t change the amount. Say you want to buy a PlayStation 4. It looks fine in the pictures but once you see it in-person, there’s a problem. It’s obviously been dropped. It still powers on fine but it may have loose connections, etc. Its value has obviously fallen as well. Instead of being worth $300, it’s now only worth $200 to you. With cash or a personal check, you can adjust the amount accordingly.

I only accept cash. The only exception was when I sold my car on Craigslist. I accepted a personal check but I kept the car until the check was deposited at my bank. Once the money is in your account, the other bank CANNOT get that money back. It doesn’t matter if the car blows up 2 minutes later, the buyer cannot come back on you.


After the Sale

If you’re the buyer, there’s nothing more you need to do. Enjoy your product/service. If you’re the seller, erase the ad from Craigslist. You don’t need to waste your time and others’ time by telling them ‘Sorry, sold.’

This is how to use Craigslist like a pro. I love the service and I use it before I buy anything in a store (apart from food, toiletries, stuff like that haha).