Craigslist can be a DIY’ers dream. Just about everything under the sun can be found for purchase, and usually for a decent price. On the flipside, selling unused or excess items from your home and projects can be an easy way to bolster your home improvement budget, even if it’s just by a few bucks at a time.
While we’ve talked about how to buy on Craigslist, there are extra precautions you should follow when selling items to guarantee the safety of your home and possessions.
Writing Your Post
When writing your post, decide on how much personal information you’d like to put out there. Personally, I always anonymize my email address and never include my phone number or home address. I’m not even that specific with the neighborhood I live in for the description.
What you have to remember is that you’re very publicly advertising your property and what you value it at, so you may not want to give potential scammers your GPS location as well. Also try to be as specific as possible about your item so you don’t end up emailing or calling back and forth incessantly and divulging more information about yourself than you might realize.
Try to keep follow-up conversations short and to the point without telling your whole life story. You never know when someone’s truly interested in your item and when they’re just fishing for ways to take advantage of you.
Another thing I always do is post pictures so that I don’t have every Tom, Dick and Sally parading through my home to look at whatever I’m trying to sell. This protects not only my things, but my home as well.
Opening your front door to a parade of strangers leaves you vulnerable for scammers and thieves to peruse not only the item you’re selling, but your whole house and family. Pros will be able to tell an incredible amount about your family’s habits by just being in the space you live in, as well as be able to see items of quick resale value that you may not realize are out on display. The last thing you want to do when trying to make a quick buck is set yourself up for a break-in down the line.
Perhaps it’s because I’m a young pregnant mother, but I’m ultra sensitive about being alone in potentially vulnerable situations with strangers. So when I’m selling something like furniture or larger items on Craigslist, I make sure that my husband is the one who returns all the phone calls and is always home when someone comes by for a pick-up.
If I’m selling a smaller item, I’ll often take it with me to work and have the potential buyer meet me there. Then I’m not alone (I’m actually on closed-circuit surveillance video) and in my humble, slightly paranoid opinion, someone would be less likely to outright mug a pregnant lady in front of her co-workers.
If you don’t have the ability to meet someone at your place of employment, find a neutral location, like a cafe, diner, or restaurant — somewhere where there are pretty consistently lots of people (read potential witnesses) around, and possibly a third party you come into direct contact with, like a server or barista.
Try to avoid big open places like parks or libraries where people are less likely to interact with one another. Under no circumstances should you arrange a meeting at your home by yourself. A transaction may seem innocent enough, but you don’t want to become one of those urban legends of a Craigslist sale gone terribly wrong.
Craigslist can be your best friend if you’re smart about it. Just remember that while most people do have the noblest of intentions, not everyone does and it’s your responsibility to protect your home, your possessions, and your family.