Many times in life, the difference between success and failure is just a few details. This is especially the case when it comes to negotiating with people in the wilderness of Craigslist. Whether you are negotiating as a buyer or seller, the following 11 tips will help you get the price you want.
Negotiating tips when buying items on Craigslist
1. Be kind. When you are communicating with the seller of an item, treat them like a person. Be kind and courteous. Say hi at the beginning of the email, it’s like smiling. Thank the person for their time at the end of the email, because you took up a small portion of the person’s life, and gratitude is appropriate. People are much more likely to be flexible on the price if you treat them like they are more valuable (which they are) than the item you are interested in.
2. Ask questions. Ask if there are any issues with the item. I purposely ask this vague question as it’s kind of all encompassing. If you ask specific questions, you will get specific answers. Asking if there are any scratches will get a yes or no, but they might not mention a dent. When you ask if there are any issues, it brings to mind every little flaw or defect in the item, and with these flaws in mind, a person is often more likely to bring down the price.
If you are in person, let them talk for a bit after you ask. Let there be a little silence so they have time to volunteer a good bit of information about the items.
3. Avoid Confrontation. I’ve greatly reduced the number of sellers I call on the phone. My reason for this is that many people get offended at lower offers and tend to overreact. Once an offense has been taken, they dig their heels in and won’t budge. This same person, given a few minutes to think about an offer, will often calmly make a rational decision and accept a lower offer. I think it’s easier to avoid confrontation and communicate kindness via an email. Plus, for a person that really needs to the higher price, you are giving them an easier way to stick to their price without any high pressure. Our goal should be two happy parties, not always just an extra nickel of profit. I’ve been learning this more and more over time.
4. Communicate that you are not desperate. It is often said the one that needs the other the least in a relationship holds the power. This is very true when it comes to buying and selling. I will often end an email by saying no worries either way. I’m trying to honestly communicate that it’s fine if they accept my offer and it’s going to be fine if they don’t. Realizing that the sun will come up tomorrow even if you don’t get the item is very important, and will be communicated to sellers in your tone of voice and your words. Don’t be desperate.
5. Tell the seller why it’s worth selling to you at a lower price. What are some of the benefits of selling to you at this lower price? Ask how soon you could pick it up. This shows the seller that you are serious and would be willing to come right over and pick an item up. A quick sale is valuable to many sellers and this adds motivation for them to lower the price. Tell them you are flexible and are willing to work around their schedule. Tell them you have cash and the means to safely remove the item yourself. I’ve waited a week or two before picking up some appliances as they wanted to use them up until they moved.
1. Realize your strengths and weaknesses. Some people would rather perish than endure high pressure, awkward confrontations. If this is you then avoid negotiating over the phone or in person. Leave your phone number out of the ad and have people email you. It’s easier to be courageous when facing a computer screen than an old grizzled Craigslist shark. If you want to include your phone number, tell people you are firm on the price. When they ask for a lower price, refer them to the ad and tell them you are firm.
2. Give your item a chance to sell at your desired price. When someone calls or emails a lower price, don’t send back a knee jerk rant about how much your great aunt originally paid for the bird bath. Politely tell them that you might consider their offer if it hasn’t sold by the end of the week, or whatever other time frame you set up. If people are calling about the item, you probably have it priced correctly and eventually someone will pay full price.
3. Don’t be desperate to sell. I will often see ads where a seller will say things like their enormous freezer is sitting in the living room and making life unbearable. Even if that’s the truth, you don’t need to volunteer the information. If you need to move the item to a place that isn’t going to drive you insane until it sells, then do so. Otherwise you are going to get worked over by a discerning buyer that will see your desperation.
4. Don’t drop the price once a person has shown up. Once a person has invested a bunch of time and gas to come to your place to inquire about an item, they are serious about buying. If they act like they aren’t going to pay full price, call their bluff and don’t drop the price. 95% of the time they will end up buying the item. If the rare event takes place and they end up leaving without buying, that’s ok.
5. Have someone else with you. We often give in to pressure because of fear. Having another person with you has a tendency to give a boost of courage you need to stand your ground. This is especially helpful when someone is coming to look at a car or another high priced item. Have them keep you accountable or even make it a joint decision that must go through you both.
6. Be kind. Many times I’ve had someone tell me that they were going to offer less but that I seemed like a good guy. Being kind and courteous to people will often earn you favor in their eyes. Treat each person with a clean slate. It’s easy to get hard and calloused after a rough transaction, but you need to forget about those and assume the best of each person.
Have any questions? What negotiating tactics have worked well for you? I’m sure many of you have interesting negotiation stories, so feel free to share them in the comments.
The pictures above are from our trip this past weekend to the Oregon Coast. It was incredibly beautiful out there.