Tips for Finding Deals on Craigslist

If it weren’t for Craigslist, our house would either be empty or I’d be really broke from having to pay retail prices. I am a Craigslist junkie and am pretty proud of just about every deal I’ve bought or sold.

I will admit, it does take some practice to get the hang of how to search and scan things quickly, but lucky for you I’ve summarized some of my best tips and search terms to make life a bit easier.

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Top Tips for Finding Deals on Craigslist:

1. Always search “by owner”
This is a big deal. There are so many companies that post on Craigslist promoting mattresses and crappy rental furniture. Removing all that white noise immediately makes it feel less overwhelming.

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2. Change the view to “Gallery”
Viewing posts by gallery helps you quickly scan the photos instead of reading post headlines in a list. You can get through a lot more, more quickly.

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3. If you have a maximum price, set it.
Sometimes when I’m just browsing instead of looking for something specific, I’ll put a lower number in the “max price” box so that I don’t spend time sifting through things I’ll never pay $600 for anyway.

4. Select nearby areas
If I am looking for something specific, I will select nearby areas to include in my search. Yes, this will usually mean a little road trip if I fall in love, but a Craigslist steal is usually worth it.

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5. Know how to search
This is where it gets a little complicated. You need to be open in how you’re searching, and search a few times for the same thing in order for different things to show up. The below is a great example. These sellers posted their dresser twice, once listed as a “chest of drawers” and once as a “5 drawer bureau”. Never, though, as a “dresser”. You’d get different results from searching each of these things.

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The same goes for finding a truly good deal for a high end item. You’ll have to sift through quite a lot to find a diamond in the rough for the best deal. For example, you usually won’t get a great deal by searching “Eames” or “Milo Baughman”. Why? Because those people know exactly what they have and therefore will charge for it. You need to find the posts where the seller has no idea what they have on their hands, and are selling it on the cheap.

Also, keeping your search a bit broad can be a little overwhelming, but I’ve found some great items doing this. Terms like “solid wood” “vintage” (even though a lot is not actually vintage) and materials like “brass” or “velvet” can turn up some awesome gems. Sometimes I’ll even spell something wrong, knowing people typically mispell it. (I’ll search “rattan” and “ratan”).

6. Combine searches using “|”
Using the | button allows you to search multiple terms at once. So, when you search “arm chair | armchair | arm chairs” it means “arm chair OR armchair OR arm chairs”. The items don’t have to be related, so it can definitely save you some time by grouping your search terms.

7. Search multiple categories
Sellers post things in all the wrong places, so it’s important to check out the Furniture, Antiques, and Household Items whenever you can.

8. Be patient! And maybe set up some notifications.
Finding a killer deal takes some time, persistance, and practice. Personally, I love that part of it, but I understand it’s definitely not for everyone. At the very least, you can always save your search or set an email alert. That way, any time someone posts something with your search term, you’ll get an email about it. I also know you can sign up for their RSS feed – I haven’t tried it yet but it seems like it could be super helpful!

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Last but not least, having some key search terms is half the battle. Here are the ones I use on the regular.

Craigslist Search Terms:
Rattan / Ratan
Solid Wood
Cane / Caning
MCM / Mid Century
Nightstand / Night Stand
Kilim (rug) / Oriental
Armchair / Arm Chair
Clubchair / Club Chair

You get the point. Also, while you’re on the site, quickly browse the “free stuff” category, you never know what you’ll find!

I hope this helps a bit – happy hunting!

What is the best thing you ever got on a Craigslist (or similar) score?


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