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Best things to buy and sell on Craigslist

How do you know what is a good deal on Craigslist? These are the five items that someone will definitely sell, or buy, online.

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    Susan Locke, left, hands her money to Michele Velleman to buy a table she saw online in Georgetown, Mass., Monday, July 13, 2015. There are some items that someone will definitely buy or sell online, such as high-end furniture.
    Charles Krupa/AP/File
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Oh, the choppy public waters one must navigate on Craigslist. For every successful transaction, about a dozen fall through. How do you know what will work? These are the five things you should always buy or sell on Craigslist.

1. Home Appliances

Refrigerators, dishwashers, A/C units, and laundry washers and dryers are the kind of machines perfect for buying and selling on Craigslist. They're really expensive when bought new, but remain useful for years and years, so they retain a good hunk of their original value. Why buy a brand new washer/dryer combo for $1000, when you can get a slightly older one for $400? Remember to check for warranties, if possible, which could increase an appliance's used value.

2. Electronics

At some point, nearly everyone has to buy or sell a computer, phone, stereo, TV, or printer. Nearly all electronics do well on Craigslist for that reason, and because they hold their resale value well. The best and fastest sellers are whatever is most in demand at the time: Apple products such as the iPad, iPhone, and Watch will yield dozens of offers in a day. When buying, remember to check the median eBay price for the item before making an offer, so that you are not paying extra for a used product.

3. Cars

Another inelastic need most people will buy at least once in their lifetime, cars do very well on Craigslist. If you're selling your car, you need good photos, the full car history, and a fair price based on the Kelly Blue Book value. If you're buying, the most important thing to watch out for are sellers who try to pass off a salvage title or a ticking time bomb of a car that has not been repaired. Be sure to fully test drive the car, and ask to bring it to a diagnostic mechanic before buying. If the seller won't allow that, consider it a big red flag.

4. High-End Furniture

Solid, well-maintained furniture also holds its value very well. The holy grail of big-ticket lifestyle items, stylish mid-century modern furniture is still extremely popular and in demand — even a basic but finely made oak dresser or table will do great on Craigslist. Some great items that are easy to sell and easy to shop for are bed frames, dressers, dining sets, new couches, and lamps. Riskier pieces would be mattresses, older couches, and rugs — you never know how clean those will actually be, so new is always better than used for those items.

5. Power Tools

When the inevitable time comes to fix the furniture, cars, and appliances you bought on Craigslist, you can go right back to Craigslist for a toolkit, a drill, a sander — you name it. The secondary market for power tools is healthy and reasonably fair for both sellers and buyers. As a seller, keep your eye out for how much the new versions sell for on Home Depot, Amazon, and Walmart to be sure you're within the right pricing zone. As a buyer, remember you can always make an offer a little lower than asking price — it never hurts to negotiate.

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The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best personal finance bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

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