chair-compressed

Photo: Emily May/Flickr

Online marketplaces are are a real treasure trove for design lovers. If you’ve got the patience and the know-how, sites like Craigslist and Kijiji can yield rare finds at reasonable prices. Alternatively, if you’re looking to offload household furniture, a well-written listing with clear photos could put extra cash in your pocket. Follow these easy tips for buying and selling your furniture online and you’ll be scoring deals in no time.

Buy

  • Check off the ‘has images’ box on the left side of the page. Do not waste your time wading through unhelpful or potentially scam-ridden posts. On Craigslist, make sure you are viewing the listings in gallery mode rather than list.
  • Original photos are always preferable to commercial photos. You’ll never know the true condition of a MALM dresser based on a photo that’s clearly been lifted from IKEA.com.
  • Search by keywords, such as a furniture retailer, decor style or material. If you want to be extra specific, put quotation marks around your search. Entering “West Elm” or “mid-century modern” into the query box will ensure that all of the results have those words in the title.

dresser-compressed

Photo: Emily May/Flickr

  • …But also be broad in your search — not every seller is a savvy seller. They may list their furniture under other categories such as antiques, household or collectibles. Or, they might write a horrible title, like “Fabric Sofa,” that provides very little information. It takes time and patience to sift through these listings, but somewhere out there is a Hans Wegner Easy Chair listed as a “Chair with Wood Frame.”
  • Set up email alerts to be among the first to know when an item you’re searching for goes on sale. On Craigslist, you can do so by clicking ‘save search,’ which is located to the right of the search bar. Check the box to turn email notifications on or off for your query. On Kijiji, simply click ‘Register for Kijiji Alerts,’ located near the top of the page, after searching for the keyword.
  • Once you’ve found the furniture piece you’re interested in purchasing, write a brief, but friendly message to the seller. If it’s a popular posting, the seller will likely receive numerous responses so it’s important to stand out.

light fixture-compressed

Photo: Emily May/Flickr

  • If possible, offer to pick up the item ASAP and state that you have cash on hand. Most sellers are looking to get rid of their furniture quickly, especially if they’re moving.
  • Haggle with confidence. If you think an item is overpriced, kindly explain why. Use similar postings as evidence, or even the price of purchasing that item new. Some people prefer to negotiate the price in person for fear of being passed over via email.
  • Always pay in cash or through PayPal. Sellers are often fearful of receiving forged cashier’s checks and money orders.
  • If possible, meet the seller in a public place and *always* bring a friend. Safety first, folks.

stool-compressed

Photo: Emily May/Flickr

Sell

  • Clean the furniture item you are selling before photographing it. A dusty, overcrowded bookshelf is not a hot ticket item.
  • Take fantastic photos using a DSLR. Ask to borrow one from a friend if you don’t own one. Always take photos during daylight hours and ensure that your subject is properly lit. If you need to, bring in extra floor lamps to bounce light off the ceiling, and never photograph an item against a window.
  • On that note, stage your items to make them more visually appealing. Add a few throw pillows to a couch or set a dining table as you would for a meal. Just remember to state in your post that these decorative accents are not included.
  • Clean up the background of your photos. If there is dirty laundry on the floor, a prospective buyer might assume that you aren’t very good at taking care of your personal belongings.

messy-compressed

Photo: Emily May/Flickr

  • Include keywords in your ad title. We’ve been over this, but “Casalife ‘Citizen’ Italian leather armchair” is far more searchable than “designer chair.”
  • Include lots of details in your listing. If you do not, you will be bombarded with questions from confused prospective buyers. For furniture, it’s important to mention why you are selling the item, its dimensions, if it is from a non-smoking household, if you own pets, if there is any damage to the item, if you’re willing to negotiate the price and the approximate pickup location (please don’t give away your home address, a neighborhood will suffice).
  • Do not try to be witty in your post. Prospective buyers are searching through hundreds of posts, and they do not think it’s funny that, “This arm chair [sic] fits only elegant bums of aristocratic descent” (actual Kijiji post).
  • Do your research before deciding on a price. Again, look at similar listings or check out how much it costs to buy the item new. If a prospective buyer tries to lowball you (someone always will), you’ll be able to explain why it’s worth the list price.

coffee table-compressed

Photo: Emily May/Flickr

  • Post your item on a weekend when more users are browsing the site. If you post a loveseat at 9am on Saturday morning, it may very well be gone by that afternoon.
  • Respond to emails quickly — it’s the polite and courteous thing to do. The prospective buyer is likely shooting off emails to multiple sellers and if you’re the first to respond, you’re more likely to make a sale.
  • You do not have to sell to just anyone. Use your best judgement, especially if the buyer will be picking up furniture from your house. It’s okay to tell a little white lie, “Sorry, the couch is no longer available,” or “I’m already in talks with another buyer, but if the sale falls through I’ll let you know.”
  • And finally, only accept cash or PayPal. There are a lot of scammers out there and you don’t want to be played for a fool. Ask to be paid on the spot when the buyer arrives to pick up the furniture item.

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