Top 5 Tips for Successfully Selling your Smartphone on Craigslist

If it’s your first time making a sale on Craigslist, it may be a daunting-even scary, task. What with all the Nigerian princes and people overseas promising to pay you in moon money, there are certainly causes for concern.

Over the years I’ve had my share successful (and some not so successful) dealings on Craigslist. I’ve found the best formula for a smooth transaction where both parties leave happy consistently revolves around these 5 critical factors:

1. Price

You know that time when you offered an item for X dollars and a buyer immediately responds with “that sounds fair, i’ll take it!”? Me neither. 9/10 times you will receive offers that are straight low balls, or emails requesting a price adjustment. If you aren’t sure of your pricing, you might find yourself inclined to entertain these offers.

It is important to know how much your device is worth, that way you can be comfortable refusing offers, while still maximizing your chance of finding a buyer. Movaluate’s price appraisal gives you a comprehensive analysis of the value of your smartphone or tablet by displaying it’s actual sale price distribution:

Sale Price Distribution for the Black AT&T iPhone 5 16GB

Using this histogram, you can get a feel for what the going price of your device has been, and adjust the exact price in order to maximize speed of sale or final sale price. The further left on the histogram you price your device, the more likely you are to sell it quickly, vice versa as you go right. Depending on the devices demand, you should be able to close a sale at the fair market price within a few days to a week.

Deter any offer attempts with a “$XXX.xx FIRM” in the first line of your advertisement. Many of the ads on craigslist will display listing prices (not intended closing prices), which are purposefully inflated in anticipation of negotiations. Make it clear that you are a serious seller and that you stand by your price-this will attract serious buyers who won’t waste your time.

2. Photos

What’s the first thing you see when you open up a listing? The photos.

There are two types of photos: good ones, and everything else. The good ones immediately invoke a sense of trustworthiness and professionalism. The poor ones make you wonder if the Nikon Potato really exists and whether or not you will come out of this sale alive.

Let’s take a look at some of the DOs and DONTs of Craigslist photography:

  • Do use a DSLR
  • Do take photos in appropriate lighting
  • Do upload high res images (insert using HTML tags)
  • Do take photos that clearly detail all aspects of the device
  • Do take photos that make you seem approachable
  • Do take more than one photo

Keep in mind that when Craigslist filters posts by images, you will still need to upload an image in addition to adding one via HTML.

And the DONT’s:

  • Don’t use a phone to take the pictures (especially in low light or with flash)
  • Don’t take a picture of ‘a small scratch’ where you can’t see the scratch
  • Don’t use stock images from online
  • Don’t take photos with extraneous items in the background (your hairy toes, troll doll collection, etc.)
  • Don’t substitute quantity for quality
  • Don’t take just one photo

Let your images do most of your descriptive work-as the adage goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

3. Title/Description

If you were the buyer, what would you want to see? Well you would probably want to see some high quality images, but since we have that covered, we want to optimize our listing so prospective buyers can easily find our listing.

In addition to all variations of your device’s name [Samsung Galaxy S III S3 Verizon 16 GB Pebble Blue], make sure to include any relevant keywords that might help your device stand out in more specific search results such as:

  • New
  • BNIB or NIB (New in box)
  • Used
  • OBO (or best offer)
  • Trading
  • Original Box
  • Charger
  • Specific location
  • etc.

In addition you will want to give additional details or explanations that aren’t implied from the images. Often times people will be curious about the purpose of sale, whether or not you will negotiate the price, entertain trading offers, so on and so forth. It’s not a bad idea to explain why you are selling and also include a clause stating that you aren’t (or are) taking offers or trades.

Don’t forget to add contact details as well as location/contact hours. You can further make life easier on yourself by requiring a “Reply with [insert arbitrary statement] in subject line” for email inquiries so that you can quickly filter out unscrupulous buyers in your inbox.

4. Communication

Just like in any relationship, communication is key:

Keeping in constant contact with your prospective buyers will build their confidence and help you make the sale quickly. Remember to be polite and cordial, but do not do so at the cost of sounding firm-if a buyer does not agree upon your price within a couple email exchanges, state that your pricing requirements and if they don’t agree, move on.

5. Safety

Even if you follow all of the aforementioned tips, you can’t have a successful sale if you don’t make it out alive. Well, before we start fear mongering, let’s go over some real risks you may encounter and how to avoid them.

I’ve heard of cases where the alleged buyer will show up and demand the item in question without paying for it-at gunpoint. Another common trick was to have the ‘buyer’ snatch the  item and then get swooped up by an accomplice that is parked nearby.

The easiest way to avoid this type of scenario is to meet during the day in a public, indoor facility. I like meeting at Starbucks around lunch time, grab a cup of joe while you wait at a table for your buyer to arrive. The free wifi makes it easy to test connectivity of your device as well.

Violence is probably unlikely, but buyers might try to pull quick ones on you, such as the “Follow me to my car to get the money,” or “The bank didn’t let me withdraw enough cash.” Classic sketchy behavior-if you guys agreed upon a set price and they try any fishy business in person, kindly ask for the full amount agreed upon and if not presented, get up and leave.

Be weary of thick wads of cash. It’s very easy to quickly hand over your device without thinking twice when they just give you the money. To prevent them from getting up and leaving while you are sitting on your ass counting your monopoly money, have the buyer count out the money in front of you before making the exchange.

Well, there you have it, the 5 most important factors in selling your device on Craigslist. Pretty soon you’ll be moving used phones like it was nobody’s business. Good luck with your sales and let us know how it goes!

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