Make Cash on the Side (and get rid of unwanted junk) by Learning How to Sell Furniture on Craigslist

I live in Chicago, and recently I moved to a new apartment. For over three years, I lived in a three-bedroom house with two roommates. The new place that I moved into is a studio apartment. Clearly, I was going to have a lot less free space to work with. The number-one way that I was able to solve that problem was by learning how to sell furniture on Craigslist. Read on, and discover how I made over $900 just by selling stuff I didn’t want anymore.

Had To Get Rid of It

Not only did I own too much furniture (there’s no way it would all fit in my new apartment), but my two roommates left some of their old furniture behind, too. Because I was the last one to move out, it was up to me to get rid of this furniture or risk having a fee taken out of our security deposit.

The Easy Way Out

One easy solution would have been to call Salvation Army; they’ll gladly come by (they have a truck and everything) and pick up all your old junk. This is convenient, sure, but of course this means you’re donating your furniture. It’s for a good cause, but I would rather get some money in return. After all, I had paid for this furniture in the first place! So that’s when I turned to Craigslist.

Now, let me just say this first: you don’t have to be moving to sell furniture on Craigslist. Obviously. It’s just one reason why you might want to. Maybe you just bought a new couch, and want to sell your old couch on Craigslist; or maybe you just want to clean out the basement.

The Issue of Time

The first thing to keep in mind is, the more time you have to sell this crap, the better. So if you’ve got a deadline (like my move-out date), start as early as possible. Otherwise, you might not be able to get rid of everything in time.

Now you need to get organized. If you’re only selling one or two things, this isn’t an issue, but if you’re selling a lot of stuff like I was, it helps to get it all together in one room.

Clean Up

Next, get some cleaning supplies and wipe everything down. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but get the dust off there, clean any stains if you can, and hopefully make it all look nice and shiny.

Posting Your Ads

Pictures are the most important part of your Craigslist ad, so take good pictures. It could mean the difference between selling an old coffee table for $80 rather than $30. I recommend waiting until a sunny day, and taking your pictures in a well-lit room. Use the best camera you have available, and make sure the pictures are clear, crisp, and bright.

How To Create A Craigslist Ad

Now you’ll have to create Craigslist posts for each piece of furniture. Go to Craigslist, find your city, then click “Post to Classifieds,” then “For Sale,” then “Furniture – by owner.” When you create the ad itself, keep these notes in mind:

  • The title is the most important piece of writing. This is what will cause people to click, or not click, on your post. So try to make it stand out. Don’t be afraid to exaggerate here, or do something different. Your goal is to try to lure people in.
  • When deciding on a price, keep in mind how much time you have. If you have to sell this stuff soon, you might have to start at a lower price. If you can afford to wait, start higher! You can always decrease it later.
  • In the description, make sure to write a fair amount. Describe the furniture, including all of its positive qualities. If it has any big scratches, dents, etc., be up-front and admit that here. (Maybe include a picture of any scratches, too.) Be honest, but also focus on the positive qualities.
  • Add up to four good pictures. More is better.

More Tips

Here are a few more tips:

  • Insist that buyers pay with cash only (you don’t want to mess around with bounced checks, and you sure as heck don’t take credit cards). Also, insist that the buyer come to pick up the item. (You’re not a delivery service!)
  • When thinking about price, factor in how easy it will be to transport the item. Personally, I sold three different coffee tables for a good price, all within a day or so of posting an ad. However, I had an old Lay-Z-Boy that was much more difficult to get rid of because it required a truck to transport.
  • Hide your email. If you get a suspicious-sounding email, it’s probably a Nigerian scam. Ignore those people.
  • You’ll probably get some people offering you less than your asking price. Expect this to happen. In fact, you might want to inflate your prices a little to account for it. For example, if you want $100 for a chair, start asking for $120. This way, you can also “discount” the item later on, and still get your desired price.
  • Be aware of possible security issues. Try to have someone else around (friends, family, etc.) when somebody comes to look at your furniture. Personally, I even bought a small canister of pepper spray for protection. I never needed it, of course, but it was just in case and it made me feel a little more secure.
  • Sell things in season, if possible. I sold an old air conditioner for a good price, even though it leaked water (I admitted this in the description), because it was a hot week in July.
  • If you have trouble selling some things, think about combining them. For instance, offer a chair and table together for a discount price. Or, offer a discount price for a limited time only; you can indicate this in the title.

Hope this information helps you learn how to sell furniture on Craigslist. Maybe you can replace some of that recently sold furniture with some wooden bar stools, a bistro table set, a wicker swing, or, if you're feeling frisky, a Moroccan chandelier! Good luck!