I get a lot of emails each week asking me what the best things are to buy and sell on Craigslist. Where’s the money at? Show me the money! I email some tips back, each time wondering why in the world I haven’t written a post about the subject. Well, here it is.
The best items to buy and sell on Craigslist are the highest priced items, in the least efficient markets, where there is sufficient supply.
Why higher priced items?
Higher priced items provide more leverage for profits than lower priced items, as long as the total amount of work is the same. For example, you could buy a $40 bike, fix it up and resell it for $60. Or you could buy a $400 bike, fix it up and resell it for $600. The same amount of time went into acquiring both bikes, fixing them, and reselling them. The difference in profit was $180 for the same amount of labor and time. However, when buying higher priced items, you increase your chance for loss. I recommend gradually working your way up towards higher priced items. Slow growth is usually the best growth.
What is an inefficient market?
It’s where buyers may not have enough information about an item to make informed decisions about what to buy or the price to pay.
Basically, it’s a market that people know very little about. For example, Apple products are more difficult to make money flipping than say a piece of furniture. The value of a used iPad can easily be determined on eBay by searching for iPad, then checking completed listings. Poof, you know exactly how much the last few hundred iPads have sold for. So, because it’s very easy for people to find out what the market is paying for an iPad, they are less likely to under price it.
What is a sufficient supply?
There needs to be enough of product you’re trying to buy and sell to reach your income goals.
So with these three factors in mind, here’s my list of the ten best things to buy and sell on Craigslist.
10. Cell Phones
Cell Phones, especially many of the new smartphones sell for a lot of money on the used markets. There is a very large supply due to people constantly upgrading their phones. The demand is high because of how expensive it is to replace a lost or broken phone. The cell phone market isn’t that efficient because most people obtained their phone via their cell carrier subsidizing it, therefore obscuring it’s real cost from it’s owner.
9. Power Tools
Power tools are a great because of the large supply, and frequent fire-sales that occur when contractors change professions and dump all their tools on Craigslist. Also, one can get the most out of a trip as usually the seller is often getting rid of many tools at once. Bonus is to be able to use the tools while you are waiting for them to sell. Buy them for a remodel project, and sell them for a profit after you’re done!
8. Yard equipment
Lawnmowers, weed eaters, leaf blowers, chainsaws, chippers/shredders, power washers and generators. This can be especially lucrative if you learn how to repair small engines, especially during springtime. People often leave their equipment with gas in it over the winter which leads to the carburetor clogging up and machine not starting. So people throw them up on Craigslist for free or very cheap. This last year I helped a friend get dozens of lawnmowers for free.
Laptops, netbooks and desktop computers can be great buys, especially if you repair them as well. When something goes wrong with a computer, people will often unload it for cheap on Craigslist. People are always upgrading to the latest and greatest, even with lots of life left in their existing computer.
High-end electronics sell pretty well. For example Bose products always sell well as the supply of them is smaller and it’s an item where the initial price keeps many from buying new. There are also a lot of sub-categories within the electronic field where people buy the product on a whim, and get rid of it a few months later after barely using it. They also store easily inside a house and can be used while awaiting for them to sell.
Furniture can be very expensive and often holds it’s value fairly well, especially high-end furniture. Any solid wood furniture will usually have a pretty high demand. Desks, all types of chairs, nice couches, bookshelves, dining tables, dressers, mirrors, etc.
There is very good money to be made in buying and reselling bicycles. The value of a bike will also increase quite a bit with a few repairs. Also, with the younger generation being saddled in so much debt, bicycles are becoming more popular as an alternative transportation mode. Just make sure you get rid of your inventory a little quicker than the man above.
3. Motorcycles and scooters
Buying and selling Harley Davidson motorcycles, and other motorcycles and scooters, can be a very lucrative business. These bikes can sell for $5,000-$15,000, which leaves a lot of room for play. They are another frequently distressed sale item where very good deals can be found. Also, if you can sit on the bikes over the winter, you can often buy them for cheap in the winter and sell them for more in the summer.
Everyone has appliances, so the supply and demand for them is very high. It’s fairly easy to make $75-$150 profit per appliance, and more if you are dealing with high end appliances (which also carry more risk) This the category that I spend my of my time in. Check out How I Earn My Living Buy and Selling Appliances on Craigslist. I also wrote How to Buy a Used Washer and How to Buy a Used Dryer.
If you really know what you’re doing, and are willing to get a dealers license, you can make a lot of money buying and selling cars. $500-$1000 profit on a car is probably average, but there is the potential to make a good bit more than that. Sellers will often under price a car because of a small flaw, and after observing it closely every day, becomes bigger than it actually is. The small dent on the bumper becomes a reason to drop the price significantly, when the market could care less. I also wrote 5 Things to Remember When Buying a Car on Craigslist.
You still need to buy and sell what you know best. If you don’t know a category very well, spend some time doing research. With some effort, you can learn to make money buying and selling just about anything on Craigslist. Best of luck!
Also, for more helpful tips, see 5 Ways to Make Money on Craigslist
What categories or products have been best for you? Which have you had the best success with? I’d love to hear your comments and stories.