Online classifieds: Buy and sell with ease

By Adam Cochran

My family has been decluttering since March.

In addition to the lockdown, three of our four kids moved out. We seized on these life developments as the opportunity to eliminate 20-plus years of build-up. Most of the stuff went to the garbage or was donated. But, a few things had too much monetary value.

While some people like to sell items on sites like eBay, I prefer to sell locally on online classified sites like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist. The final selling price may not be as high, but I don’t have to figure out shipping or pay a percentage of the sale to the host site.

Both Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist occasionally charge, but most items can be listed for free. Facebook Marketplace requires a Facebook account. For Craiglist, you can both list and view ads without an account, but if you take the time to set up a free Craigslist account, you can track your ads and buyers can communicate with you easier.

Facebook Marketplace allows you to list items for either local or national buyers, whereas Craigslist is designed to be local. For example, Grand Junction’s Craigslist section is, but Colorado’s mountain cities list items on

While print classifieds (like the BEACON’s) can help you sell your items meant for a specific demographic, online classified ad sites offer many advantages. There’s typically no word limit for the description, and you can add several pictures of the item you’re selling. Plus, communication is easy, as most ads allow you to contact the seller just by pressing a button. Buyers can also search the classified ad site for keywords.

Despite their benefits, online classifieds are also quirky, and there’s an online etiquette that impacts whether you successfully sell or buy an item.

Selling etiquette

Before you sell an item, take lots of pictures. Imagine the item in a yard sale. How would people look at it? Take photos inside and outside, of all angles. If there are problems with the item, take photos of those, too.

Potential buyers won’t take the time to ask a lot of questions about omitted details; they will just move on to the next item. That means that you need to be thorough, anticipating and answering as many questions as possible.

Follow these rules:

• Always list the price.

• Be honest in your description of the item and be specific about problems. 

• You don’t need to say “or best offer”—prices are always negotiable. But you should clarify if your price is firm.

• Know how you want to make the transaction ahead of time. Some people are nervous about inviting strangers to their home. The police department has special transaction areas in their parking lot for those who are concerned about safety.

Buying etiquette

Before you inquire about an item that is for sale, read the ad completely. Sellers often filter out bots and scammers by ignoring messages asking questions that are answered in the ad.

Additionally, don’t ask, “Is this item still available?” Instead, ask something like, “I am very interested in your vintage ironing board. I would like to come and take a look at it tonight or tomorrow. When would be a good time to meet?” This type of message tells the seller that you’re interested, you intend to meet them locally, and you will buy the item if it’s satisfactory.

I’ve been able to poach some great deals from other potential buyers simply because I got straight to the point. While everyone else was asking questions, I was driving to the meeting place with cash.

Always take the time to test the item out thoroughly. You won’t offend the seller by asking to plug in an electronic device or test ride a bike. Trust your gut, and be willing to walk away if the deal doesn’t feel right. Almost every purchase I’ve regretted has been something that I had a gut feeling about, but bought anyway. 

In many ways, online classifieds are like having a 24-hour garage sale or thrift store available at your fingertips. You can also make some nice spending money by selling stuff you no longer need.

Just remember to be careful, and keep in mind that all online classifieds transactions are as is. 

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