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Tips for Buying and Selling on Kijiji (or Craigslist)

Kijiji is a service that allows anyone to post free online classified ads. You don’t even need to register to post an ad. Kijiji and Craigslist are just two examples of extremely popular no-cost online classified services. Last week I covered What I Like About Kijiji.

This week is all about tips for buying and selling on Kijiji or Craigslist:

Use photos

It’s extremely easy to post photos. You don’t even have to register to post an ad with a photo. It lets people see what your selling and clearly shows the the state of the item.

Post a price

I don’t even contact a seller who says ‘please contact’. Just tell me what your price is. If I can’t see it in person, I’m not about to start negotiating a price.

Price reasonably

We have had tremendous success selling anything we’ve posted on Kijiji really quickly. Usually it’s sold within hours of posting an ad. We’ve sold everything from wagons, winter coats, bedroom sets and even a piano.

Before posting I do a search for similar type items and put the price at just a little bit under. So for example, when selling the wagon, I did a search for the same one and found 4 of them for sale for $40. I posted ours for $35 and it was gone within the day.

Do your research

My husband has been keeping his eye out for an American made Fender Stratocaster. He saw one recently that seemed like a reasonable price. Then when he read the fine print, he realized it was a low end model and the person was in fact selling a used one for more than they go for new! Be honest with what you post and do your research to make sure you’re getting a good deal.

Look outside your own city

When looking for our bedroom set, we set a budget, saved some money and then started looking. We knew we wanted something in solid wood and we were hoping for a four poster bed. We checked regularly and still found nothing. Finally we expanded our search to surrounding cities. Immediately we found the perfect set 100 km away. Even with the cost of renting a van to pick it up, we still came in $250 under budget and we found exactly what we were looking for.

Check frequently

Checking regularly is the key to finding exactly what you want. The good stuff goes fast. My brother-in-law furnished his entire cottage from Craigslist. It’s gorgeous. It doesn’t look used. It looks like something out of a magazine and suits the cottage perfectly. He said he did it by checking every morning and every evening. He had a list of what he was looking for. He knew his budget and he kept checking.

Use the search feature

Trying out Kijiji the first time can seem overwhelming. There are thousands if not hundreds of thousands of items posted. If you type in exactly what you’re looking for and define the parameters a bit, you’ll only see the types of ads you want.

Stay safe

Use a generic e-mail address, not one with your name in it. Don’t post your address online. I don’t even post my home phone number. I usually let interested buyers contact me by e-mail at which time I give them my address and phone number. I don’t want someone looking me up and showing up at my door without notice.

A friend learned this lesson the hard way after she posted her daughters dance shoes online. Within the hour a man showed up at her front door saying he just looked up her last name and tracked her down by the google map on the site. He needed those shoes now! Ever since, she switched to her generic e-mail that doesn’t contain any personal information. There are some weirdos out there but there are also ways you can protect yourself.

Make it readable

f u wnt me 2 buy wot U r selln, plz uz real wrds. I don’t want to have to use google translator to figure out your text speak. Explain what the item is. State your price. Use some descriptive words. Explain how you’d like to be contacted. Use spell check.

Use Kijiji Etiquette

  • Once someone has said they are coming to purchase your item, give them a time limit and edit your add title with the letters PPU at the end. This stands for “pending pick up”. If the person is a ‘no show’, you can remove the PPU.
  • Normally we get anywhere from 1-10 replies to our ads. I write to the first one and explain they were the first to reply. They give me a time. I explain if they aren’t there with an hour of the time they stated, I will offer it to the second person. I also contact the next people in order and explain that they are next in line and will be contacted if the first person doesn’t show. It’s irritating to reply to an ad an hear nothing back.
  • As soon as the item has been picked up an paid for, delete your ad.

Using Kijiji or Craiglist is a great way to get good stuff for a great price. It’s also a great way to sell the things you no longer want and get some money for it!

Do you have any additional tips that I might have missed?

Kathryn works in public relations and training for a non profit. In her off hours, she volunteers as a financial coach helping ordinary Canadians with the basics of money management. Her passions include personal finance and adult education. Kathryn, along with her husband and two children live in Ontario.







27 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. 1. mike

    On Kijiji, I follow a particular search or category with an RSS feed so that I don’t have to keep checking the site

  2. 2. Stephen

    Very nice set of tips, thanks!

  3. 3. Sean

    We use Kijiji for everything! Recently I have been running a kijiji ‘Garage Sale’, with the proceeds going towards another project I have going.
    One more tip: Be Patient!
    We have sold a number of vehicles on kijiji, with a car for sale right now. Too often if you don’t get replies right away you feel the need to drop the price to garner some interest. Give it some time with the larger purchases! The right buyer will come!
    Also regarding the etiquette; don’t send messages unless its actually something you intend to buy!
    S.

  4. 4. Asher

    Good Post!

    One comment I have to add though regarding etiquette though. I practice a first-come, first-serve on everything I sell on there.

    If someone contacts me, I give them my contact info and what times I’m available to meet up and whoever gets a hold of me first and actually meets up with the cash gets it.

    I’ve had far too many people say “I’m coming tonight” and not show for me to dick around with setting up a waiting list. If you’re at my house with cash, it’s yours. I don’t care if you were the 1st or the 50th person to email me.

    On the other hand, I expect the same treatment if I’m trying to buy something. In fact, just this week a lady contacted me saying I was the first to contact her for something, but she had others interested. I knew I couldn’t get to her house until at least this Saturday, so told her to just let me know if the other people fell through.

  5. Very good post…two good points and tips…the one about the use of a “generic email” address is excellent and I might have just gone ahead and just used my regular email that includes my name in it….I also would never have known about the “PPU” thing…thanks for sharing that….

    Great idea Mike about using an RSS feed to follow a search…Brilliant!

  6. 6. Elbyron

    As an alternative to using an RSS feed, you can just have Kijiji send you a daily email with any new ads that match your search criteria. After executing your search, click the “Sign Up” button at the bottom of the navigation menu.

    Kathryn’s suggestion for looking at existing ads to determine a reasonable price is useful, but only if you can find a similar enough item. To broaden your search across all of Canada, try a Google search with “site:kiiji.ca” followed by your keywords. Not only will you see results from all cities, it will also show cached versions of ads that have been deleted (but you can still see the asking price).

  7. 7. Elbyron

    Oops, that was supposed to say “site:kijiji.ca”, obviously.

  8. 8. nobleea

    I’ve never heard of ‘PPU’.

    Most people will put in “PENDING” instead in the title and description.

    Definitely delete the ad within an hour of selling something.

    I think buying and selling cars on kijiji is fine, though you might have better success selling higher priced vehicles on car-specific sites. I’d say anything over 10K.

  9. 9. Johnny Bollocks

    For an even hardcore RSS usage, you can use mailchimp.com to send you email updates as soon as an ad goes up. If you have a cellphone, you can even specify your cell’s email address (you will have to research that online as it varies from provider) so that you get an SMS alert as soon as a new ad goes online. For best results, narrow your Kijiji search as much as possible: make sure to select the offering instead of having both offering and wanted ads filter in, set a price, etc. Works great!

  10. 10. Kathi

    One more tip. I found when I was selling furniture – especially anything large, people wanted to know dimensions. I learned quickly to put that in the original ad.

  11. 11. Elbyron

    Also, sellers should specify a model number, if applicable. I always have to contact them to ask for it, so that I can research the model and see the full specifications, user reviews, and retail value.

    I also like it when a seller specifies a postal code or at least indicates what part of the city they live in. Gives me an idea of how far I would have to drive.

  12. 12. Kathryn

    Great suggestions.

    Very true about the dimensions of furniture or other items. People are going to ask anyway so posting it once in your ad saves time. It’s best to put as much info as possible in the ads.

    I’ve never used the rss feature. That’s a great idea!

  13. 13. Tomer Guez

    > you’d like to be contacted. Use spell check.

    You might want to take a look at Spell Check Anywhere (SpellCheckAnywhere.Com). It is a terrific spell checker that works in all programs, including blogs.

  14. 14. Elbyron

    If you’re selling something that is commonly mis-spelled, you should intentionally put the wrong spelling somewhere in the first 50 words or so (not sure on the exact number), as Kijiji seems to only index the first part of your ad for searching.

  15. 15. cannon_fodder

    Those were all great tips. I don’t have much to add except the more photos the better. Dimensions are critical on furniture.

    If you have something that is from an online store and they still have it for sale their, include the link so that people can get more information about the item.

    If you still have warranty on the item, make sure to prominently mention that – it could be the difference between someone buying your item or someone else’s.

  16. 16. Kathryn

    I hadn’t thought of the idea of intentionally misspelling something somewhere in the description in order to get hits when someone misspells their search. Clever thinking!

    What are some of the things you’ve bought and sold online? Anything you regret buying or any mistakes you learned from along the way?

  17. 17. Elbyron

    In the past year, I’ve bought from Kijiji: a house, a Wii with some games, looked at a few tables, hired someone to make my wedding cake, and hired a labourer. Actually the labourer I was in contact with never showed up, so we posted a want ad and quickly got many responses, and hired a guy for $13/hr. It was to shovel several cubic yards of limestone, and was well worth it! I have not regretted anything that I’ve ever bought through Kijiji. I’ve even used the personals section to make some new friends!

    I’ve sold a video card, travel iron, chest freezer, and rented out my condo. I’ve also posted ads to give away an old TV, some wedding-themed bubble blowers, and leftover lava rock. The main lesson learned is that people will show interest in your item, arrange a time to come see it, and then never show up. So now I just go with a “first come first serve” policy, especially for the free stuff. I tell the interested people my policy, and give them my phone number so they can call and make sure the item is still available before they leave to come get it.
    The other thing I’ve learned is that people don’t read your ad. I often get questions asked which are are clearly answered in the ad. A bit frustrating when I put in the effort to provide all the details!

  18. 18. cannon_fodder

    So, Elbyron, have you ever used Kijiji to buy or sell anything?

    Has anyone ever taken a video of something they are trying to sell and uploaded it (perhaps to Youtube) and then embedded the link within their ad?

  19. 19. Briefcases

    I’ve bought and sold a fair amount of stuff on craigslist over the years. In the past I always relied on e-mail communication. Lately I have been including my phone number in my ad and it was quite successful. Both times I did this, I had a telephone call that same day. I guess some people are more trusting when you share your phone number. You just have to be careful to promptly remove your phone number after.

  20. 20. Tomer Guez

    > Explain how you’d like to be contacted. Use spell check.

    Incidentally, I use a very good spell check program, Spell Check Anywhere (SpellCheckAnywhere.Com). I works in all programs, including blogs, and comes with optional grammar check. Might want to look at it.

  21. We’ve used CL for quite sometime to advertise but with all of the spam, they’ve made it extremely difficult.

  22. Don’t forget to use a legal “Bill of Sale” so nothing comes back to bite you in the a**. Most government sites have these available for printing.

  23. 23. cashback cards

    Research, research, and research will make your posting, buying, and selling smooth sailing on either kijiji or craiglist. I always check and see what prices are going for around on these, and compare both for whatever item I am interested and then do more research on other sites such as ebay to compare prices and other information about the item.

    Thanks for the tips!

  24. 24. Marj

    When I was in Canada, I sold most of my used appliances on kijiji and I could easily sell it in 2 days. Kijiji is a great place to buy and sell things if you are in Canada. You can get positive replies if you know how to use keywords, title, description and great picture in your listing.

  25. 25. Tom

    Great tips. In addition to CL, another site I’d like to use in Canada to post free ads is:

    http://www.nortad.com/

  26. 26. jordan

    another thing you can do to increase views and hopefully chances of selling, is to do some rss feed submission to rss feed directories. Just make sure they are reputable and frequently visited.

  27. 27. Comment

    “I don’t even contact a seller who says ‘please contact’. Just tell me what your price is. If I can’t see it in person, I’m not about to start negotiating a price.”

    I wonder if she realizes that please contact is to invite offers or maybe the person does not want people just looking up the map and dropping in….
    So they say please contact – meaning arrange a time or offer a price.

    Negotiating price … you set a price say $50 and people email offering $10…
    Obviously lots of people like to negotiate.
    Next is the person that offers a price, arranges a time and never shows up.
    Then you get some that ask for pictures – I have to wonder what is wrong with their eyes – the ad has a picture…. all they have to do is look.

    Next there are the ones that ask” is it still for sale” likely if the ad is still up.
    So you reply and get no reply back. Or they ask what is the phone number … well it’s on the left of the ad… just click to see.

    Next is the scam artist texting you … so you reply and when you get the phone bill it is full of international text … and at a cost. Best to just call the person instead of text reply – this way you know at no cost.

    And last of all… I wonder if the writer realizes that with say 100 ads … how much time it takes to picture all of them and then go look them up to price them ? If you can even find the exact item sometimes …. and that is after sorting pictures, describing the item and then doing the post.

    Basically in pricing … it’s a game… if you don’t mind just pricing cheaper than the next guy – as the writer suggests which is basically playing giveaway … then it’s easy to sell. Getting a decent price that is fair value – or what something is worth – that’s a different story.

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