This is a how-to on scoring the best deals in your area.
Whether you recently moved or are simply looking to add flavor to your home that, during a period of mandatory time indoors, is feeling a little bland, there are ways to avoid overspending while finding quality, and possibly unique, pieces. You can head to vintage stores and flea markets, but there’s a way to do it all from the comfort of the couch you’re looking to replace.
Facebook Marketplace, a section of the social media site where you can find used goods and locally-crafted pieces, was launched in 2016. Since it’s arrival, Marketplace has undergone some changes, ultimately making it more user-friendly than other sites offering similar concepts—on Craigslist there’s a mystery surrounding the person you’re buying from, whereas on Facebook Marketplace you see the seller, see how they’ve been rated in previous sales and purchases, and can directly communicate over messenger (no real need to give out personal information).
If this ease of buying sounds appealing, allow me to further help you along your journey through the Marketplace with the tips and tricks I’ve picked up during my years of buying and selling. We’re not only making the already-easy process easier but ensuring that you get the best deals on what you’re looking for—and maybe you’ll find a one-of-a-kind piece along the way.
Expand Your Zone
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First things first, expand your zone to the distance you’re willing to go to for the perfect piece. Staying within a two-mile radius means far less selection than if you expand to, say, a 10-mile radius. Expanding gives you more options and potentially nicer pieces—for instance, I live in an IKEA neighborhood, but 10 miles from me is a Crate & Barrel neighborhood, and two miles from there is an Eames furniture neighborhood—I make sure my radius encompasses all.
Know What You’re Looking for
Once you’ve found the right zone-radius for you, it’s time to start looking. While knowing what you’re looking for might seem like an obvious tip, it is one that bears repeating. Facebook Marketplace can be incredibly overwhelming, selling everything from used rollerblades to fine art, so the search bar is essential in helping you navigate this resell market. Additionally, if you know specifically what you’re looking for—say a green, L-shaped velvet couch—type it in exactly. Most sellers are specific with their product listings, so getting descriptive in your own search can help you weed out the pieces that don’t fit your wants.
Be Open to Exploring
Alternatively, being open to exploring what is available on the Marketplace allows you to find pieces you might have never before considered. When furnishing my new apartment, I went in inspiration-less. Rather than searching through various Instagram and Pinterest blogs to find the look I wanted to achieve, I decided instead to focus on finding a couch that was equal parts cozy and cute. Doing this allowed me to search high and low for the central piece of the living room I could then build around—opening yourself up to a variety of options gives you the chance to find more unique, quality pieces that can then work to be the focal point of a new room (though this advice does primarily apply to those looking for a full overhaul of their décor).
Don’t Get Hung Up on One Category
Something Facebook Marketplace allows you to do is narrow your searches by category, with sections like home and garden, kitchen, and home decor. While this can be helpful in terms of creating a smaller pool when looking for something specific, keep in mind that some things will be oddly labeled. If you aren’t finding what you’re looking for, consider browsing a different category. Oftentimes “Furniture” and “Home Decor” overlap, meaning that you shouldn’t stick to one or the other.
Know When to Negotiate
One of the appeals of Facebook Marketplace is the opportunity to haggle. Most people list items high with the understanding that people will make lower offers. If someone lists something for $100, the reality is that they’re expecting to get $80. With that said, there are times when haggling is not recommended. Some items are in high demand, and the seller is aware. If you happen upon a Kitchen Aid mixer, do not attempt to negotiate because there is someone willing to pay the asking price. Additionally, trying to get a better deal on an in-demand product will result in an ignored offer—if this is something you want or need, paying full price will be worth it.
Keep an Eye on Interested Items
I make sure to message about any product that catches my eye. Doing this allows me to keep those products in my Messenger app, giving me easy access to the products at a later date. Additionally, this will give you the chance to see if any of the sellers have reduced the prices of those products. Perhaps the couch you liked was a bit too expensive—give it a week and see if it sells—if not, revisit the seller to see if the price has gone down or if they’re willing to work with you in finding a price that’s within your budget.
Think: How Bad Do I Need This?
When shopping on Marketplace, it’s important to understand how urgent the purchase is. Because of the nature of second-hand selling, items are, in essence, one of a kind—your chances of finding the same items twice are slim. Because of this, it’s important to know how badly you want or need the product. With new listings daily, settling for something you only like is not necessary, but because items sell quickly, items you love need to be immediately purchased. If this is an item you know you need, immediately message and pay full price—if this is something you’re only moderately interested in, consider negotiating and keeping your options open.
Ask About Delivery
Not everyone has something to transport furniture with, which could mean renting a U-Haul—suddenly your cheap second-hand buy just became a lot more expensive. If transportation is an issue, consider asking the seller if they have the ability to deliver. The reality is that they could be moving and have a U-Haul of their own or might have a car big enough to fit the item you’re buying—and if they want to get rid of it, the two of you will somehow be able to make it work. Keep in mind, however, that if the seller is willing to do this for you, it’s polite (and standard) to offer a little extra money as a way to say thank you.
Know What Method of Payment the Seller Prefers
When arranging pickup, keep in mind that there is more that goes into this than just the location. When discussing details with the seller, always ask their preferred method of payment. There are many people who prefer cash to Venmo, and this is important to clarify before showing up to the pickup location with an empty wallet. Make the sale as easy as possible by being prepared.