How to Make the Most of Facebook Yard Sales

LEARN THE BUY/SELL/TRADE GROUP ROPES

Facebook tag sale groups are the hot way to buy and sell these days. With hundreds, if not thousands, of buy/sell/trade groups targeting everything from your town to your interests, they are proving far more convenient for buyers and sellers than traditional garage sales. Just click and buy exactly what you're seeking from your couch rather than drive all over town searching for bargains. Conversely, no more putting up and taking down your merchandise in the yard, and arguably higher returns; Facebook tag sale items rarely go for less than a dollar compared with pennies on some garage sale items. In short, a win-win for all.

BUYERS AND SELLERS: KNOW THE LINGO

Facebook tag sale sites have a language all their own. For example, ISO means "in search of" and PM means "private message" between seller and buyer. There is a quick reference guide at Wordpress that explains the jargon.

SELLERS: FIND THE RIGHT GROUP

The number of tag sale groups on Facebook is daunting, so it makes sense to start locally. Search for groups in your town or city, then narrow down to topic. Are you trying to sell baby clothes? Look for groups for moms in your town. Furniture is another hot buy/sell/trade item. You can also post a message to your friends asking if they can recommend groups worth joining. After all, most of these tag sale groups got started thanks to word of mouth.

SELLERS: PLAY BY THE RULES

Once you've decided which groups to join, familiarize yourself with the rules. Some groups have very specific requirements about what kinds of items can be posted, the deadlines for picking up items, and whether haggling over price is allowed.

SELLERS: PICTURES SPEAK A THOUSAND WORDS

Whether you're using a professional camera or your phone, clarity is key for getting shots of the goods you're trying to sell. Daylight or bright lighting is a must, and if different angles are relevant, be sure to post a few pictures so shoppers can get a good look at the item.

SELLERS: POST PERTINENT DETAILS FRONT AND CENTER

Besides a clear photo, an informative (but not too detailed) description of the item is a must. Dimensions are useful, if applicable. Also include the price and the pickup location. And do note if you're posting the item on a number of sites so responders are aware of the competition and whether you're willing to negotiate. The lingo to use: X-posted (cross-posted) and OBO (or best offer).
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SELLERS: RESPOND QUICKLY

Keep an eye on your Facebook account after you post. Interested parties will respond, and respond fast. You don't want buyers to lose interest because you don't get back to them swiftly. Once the first person indicates "interested," you can post "sale is pending" and move on to finalize arrangements through private messaging.

SELLERS: BE CAREFUL WITH PICKUP

As with Craigslist and other private online arrangements, don't assume it's safe to invite someone to your home to collect the purchase. It's always best to meet in a central location, when possible. If the item is large and can't be moved to a neutral spot, schedule a daytime pickup when other family members or neighbors are around.

SELLERS: DELETE POST WHEN ITEM SELLS

Once the item has changed hands, delete the post. It saves time and hassle for both buyers and sellers -- you don't want to continue posting to other interested parties if the item is no longer available. Besides, most groups have a rule that once the item has sold, it's your responsibility to delete the post.

BUYERS: FOLLOW THE RULES

If you are first on the list of interested parties, get back to the seller promptly when he or she contacts you about pickup. Many groups have a rule about this. For example, you may be required to finalize the deal by a certain time of day or within a number of hours, or the seller has the right to move on to the next buyer. Be sure to check your "Others" folder on Facebook, because private messages from buyers and sellers can be missed when they land in this folder; in other words, it may look like one party isn't interested when in reality the message was overlooked. One way to ensure this doesn't happen is to post on the seller's status that you'll "PM" to arrange pickup.

BUYERS: KNOW YOUR LIMITS

Stick to groups in towns that you are willing to travel to. Never assume a seller will come to you unless it's specified as such, either on the group's rule page or by the seller.

BUYERS: FORGET ABOUT PRICE REMORSE

Once you agree to buy the item, expect to pay exactly the amount listed. Don't show up expecting to bargain over the price. If a seller explains she will accept other offers, converse about it and come to an understanding before you agree to buy the item.
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BUYERS: BRING THE DOUGH

Be sure to show up with the exact amount of cash to cover the purchase price; don't expect the seller to have change. And don't bring a check unless that was arranged beforehand. Most Facebook tag sale groups have a "cash only" rule, so stick to the game plan.