You have some crap you need to get rid of. Someone else may enjoy it, and you could use the extra cash in your pocket. You decide it is best to sell it online (no time for a yard sale). Facebook Marketplace is a great route to go, but I don’t want you to be “that person.” Let me explain who “that person” is using some “Do’s and Don’ts” of Selling on Facebook Marketplace.
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I have been using Facebook Marketplace to sell random items for quite some time now. I have found the platform to be more user-friendly than others, and it is far easier than setting up a yard sale (especially during the times we didn’t have a garage or were only allowed one yard sale…for only one specific day…once a quarter per the neighborhood rules). Facebook Marketplace has been a huge help in clearing out unneeded items, getting a little extra spending cash when money is tight, clearing some items out before a military PCS, and especially in finding great deals on items for our new house.
But it has also been a place full of a bunch of…well…pains in the you-know-what.
I want you to buy and sell on Facebook Marketplace. In fact, I think it is great that you want to! But I also don’t want you to be “that person,” so here are some “Marketplace Manners” for you to follow.
Do’s and Don’ts of Selling on Facebook Marketplace
Don’t Be Rude
I felt this was a great point to start on, because I have dealt with some very interesting people over time. Now, I’m sure I have come across as rude before. That’s one challenge with initially communicating online—you can’t see expressions and read people. I also am one who despises injustice and will call it out…
But don’t be intentionally rude. Don’t be that person who freaks out on someone because something isn’t exactly what you want. Don’t be that person who isn’t understanding when some Life complication comes up. Be kind. Be polite. Be considerate.
Don’t Talk Down to Women
I honestly shouldn’t even have to say this, but unfortunately it’s necessary. I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve had people act like I’m incapable of things because I am a woman…like when I ask about a tool I’m interested in, and they ask what project my husband is using it for (I use tools for projects too…)…or when they tell me I won’t be able to move an item without my husband before even meeting me (y’all, dressers really aren’t heavy if you remove the drawers first). I’ve also had some call me lovely names…or ask if I felt “safe” meeting (in a public location)! Don’t assume women can’t handle themselves. Just be kind in your approach.
I do know not everyone means it in an unkind way, but think about how your comments will come across first. That’s one of the beautiful things about being able to respond online…you can take a minute to think your comments through before responding, which is often harder in person when an immediate response is expected.
Don’t assume someone is bad because of their skin color, gender, etc. Be kind, and don’t preference some over others you just don’t feel like selling to. There is no reason, and it is quite rude to deny someone an item they’ve been looking for and are willing to purchase. If you are concerned for some likely-unfounded reason, don’t give out your address and meet somewhere completely public instead.
Now, there are times when you do want to look at the buyer’s (or seller’s) profile. I’m not saying not to be cautious, but do not just assume without really looking into the seller/buyer. This is why I tend to meet at public places like Walmart during the daytime. Whenever possible, I also have my husband with me.
Sometimes I receive messages in languages I cannot read or understand. I will still respond to those messages, in English (sadly the only language I’m fluent in, though I’ve studied several), but sometimes this is a challenge for me because I feel terrible not being able to clearly communicate. I do not want that person to think I am rude, but I also do not want that person thinking I can communicate when I can’t, or misunderstand something I say. In these situations, just do your best to communicate, because that person is likely very kind and can use the translate button to understand your response. I’ve had several situations like this that worked out just fine!
Do Speak Sensibly
This shouldn’t even be a thing, but I have to say it. Do not send over nonsense messages and expect responses. I have still tried to respond in situations like this, but sometimes I just cannot understand a single word the potential buyer is saying. Sometimes it’s carelessness, and some I just don’t even know the deal is. I’ve even asked my husband to help me figure some out, and he was just as confused. My husband had some message the same one-word message to him over and over, even with coherent responses back from us between each.
Do Ask Things Politely
Want to counter-offer on an item? Ask politely. “Please” and “thank you” go a long way.
Do Be Honest and Transparent (Whether You’re Buying or Selling)
Maybe I’m a little too honest sometimes, but if something crazy comes up or I struggle with something, I’ll let you know. I won’t keep you hanging.
If you completely forget to meet up (it’s rare, but we do forget sometimes), apologize and make sure you’re flexible for trying again. If you’re going to be a little late because your kid put his pants on backwards and had to fix it, let the seller know so they aren’t sitting around thinking you’re a no-show. Pay the full and correct amount for the item.
If there is something wrong with an item, for goodness sakes’, disclose it ahead of time. Don’t change the price on something without notice. Don’t sell an item to someone else when another person is actively purchasing it. Don’t sell stolen goods or items you got in “Buy Nothing” groups.
Most of this should go without saying.
Don’t Act Like People Owe You Something
The item being sold belongs to the seller. They do not have to lower their price to accommodate you. They do not need to travel to you. They do not need to give you their phone number. They do not need to answer a thousand questions (my husband had some of the most ridiculous questions when selling his 31-year-old station wagon…we said it runs and listed the main “issues”; we don’t need to list every single thing wrong with it and cannot guarantee it’ll make a several hour drive back to your house…it’s old and inexpensive; take it or leave it). They do not need to sell to you at all.
Don’t Be a Jerk When Negotiating
If someone is interested in an item and asks for a lower price, you counter, and the person kindly apologizes and says they cannot afford that and will pass, don’t be a jerk. They don’t have to say “yes” to you.
This happened to me recently. I asked for not even half off of a $40 item that I know for a fact I can purchase much cheaper elsewhere, if I’m patient. We are on a strict budget with these home renovations; the specific item was not a priority item, just something that will eventually need replacing. I discussed with my husband, made a reasonable offer to the seller, received a counter offer, and ended up passing on it, letting her know about our tight budget and that I would not be able to pay that at this time. Her counter-offer wasn’t much more than what I’d offered, but we had a specific amount we could not go over (because every little bit adds up, and boy do you see this when renovating a home!). You have to draw the line somewhere, right? She responded with such a rude comment back, implying that I was being stingy because I couldn’t afford what she counter offered! I let her know I simply can’t right now, but that she was welcome to sell it to someone else. (The listing had been on Marketplace for quite a while, which is the only reason I even offered the amount I did.)
The same goes with when you’re buying an item. If you make an offer and the seller tells you they will not go down that low or counter-offers your offer, don’t be a jerk. The seller does not owe you a price decrease. They do not owe you a reason. That is their item. If they want to sell it faster, they may lower the price for you. If they need the extra money, or the item has too much value to them, they don’t need to reduce the price to sell it.
This also happened when selling the station wagon. I cannot tell you how many people offered my husband $400/$500 for a vehicle he already had priced at $800—a perfectly running vehicle. They wanted to use it for demolition derby, but this item had more value to my husband (and we really wanted to sell it to someone who needed a running vehicle and didn’t have a huge budget). Some people were so rude when he wouldn’t reduce the price for them, especially those that said they “only wanted the body” or “only wanted the engine”. We told them “no” and were patient; finally, a teen who wanted it as his vehicle for his senior year of high school eventually gave a reasonable offer and purchased it. It had sentimental value to him, and would be driven regularly. That’s who we wanted to sell it to. Someone who would appreciate it.
Don’t Ask The Seller to Counter Their Own Price
By this, I mean that don’t ask the seller “What’s the lowest you will go?” If you don’t want to pay the full amount, make an offer. The seller can then say “no” or counter the offer. I’ve had many insist I give them a lower price, but I will instead ask them to make an offer. Obviously, I want the price I listed it for, but if they are willing to be reasonable in their offer, I’ll say yes.
Similarly, do not comment on their post publicly asking them for a lower price. If they respond “yes” to be kind to you and you don’t follow through, they are now stuck with others expecting a lower price than they would have been willing to pay.
Don’t Ask for Lower Prices If You’re Traveling
If you have to travel a long distance to purchase an item, do not tell the seller they need to lower their price because it’ll cost you money in fuel. That’s just silly. Want to make a slightly-lower offer on the item? Go ahead. But don’t ask for lower because of fuel costs. You are choosing to purchase this item, so the seller does not have to pay for you to come get it. We had this happen with a lot of items.
Similarly, do not tell a seller they need to deliver it to you or meet you near your home unless you are ready to pay for their fuel and time. I have had so many that decided I was too far away or they couldn’t drive, so I had to accommodate them. Oddly, this happens a lot on items that are popular, so I really have no need to sell to someone like this. I can’t always meet someone to sell an item, but I am far more willing if you’ll make your schedule flexible and you’ll pay a little for my fuel costs and time. I also have limits on how far I’ll go out (in case you’re a no-show).
Don’t Lower Your Offer In Person
Unless the item is completely not what you expected (very terrible condition when they said it was okay, but still useful for your needs), do not try to get a lower price in person. Lower offers should be discussed immediately when you are interested. Be open, honest, and up-front with the seller.
Don’t Try to Undercut Others
If someone tells you their item is pending pick-up, don’t undercut the other person by saying you will pay more or pick up sooner. While it is tempting for the seller, who surely wants to get rid of the item as soon as possible, this is rude and slimy. Don’t put the seller in that position (and sellers, don’t fall for this).
I’ve actually had sellers try to do this to me. They said an item I’d asked about was pending pick-up, but told me I could pay more to get it. Nope. Just nope. I’m not a jerk. I’ve also had sellers give me their address and we set up a pick-up time and I stayed in constant contact (letting them know I was on the way, how long the GPS said it would take, etc) only to find out they had told someone else to come try to pick the item up while we were on the way to buy it.
Don’t be that person. Just don’t.
Do Respond If Someone Messages You
R-E-S-P-O-N-D. This goes for buying and selling. It’s the respectful thing to do. I cannot count how many times I have requested an item not even a minute after it was posted, my message was seen, but the seller never answered. Is the item pending already? Let me know. Don’t want to sell to me? Be honest with me. If you listed it for sale, and someone is genuinely interested in buying (as soon as you want them to, and they messaged with real words and not just the “instant reply” button), acknowledge that.
I look at this as those times you’re talking to someone and you’re expecting a back-and-forth conversation where they acknowledge that you’ve said something, but they don’t say a word back to you (even when you try to coax it with questions like, “Right?“). Did they hear you? Did they see you? Do they like what you said? Do they even care? Don’t assume someone can read your mind. Actually respond.
If you’re buying an item and the seller responds to you, don’t be that person who never responds ever again. If something came up, budget got tight, you changed your mind, whatever, just be honest with them. The seller deserves to know what is up, or you put them in an uncomfortable position of being afraid they’ll undercut you if someone else comes along wanting to buy the item.
Do Respond, Even If You Message On Accident
It happens to all of us—you accidentally send one of those automatic messages saying you’re interested in an item someone has listed. I haven’t had this happen as much lately, but when Marketplace was newer, this happened a lot because of button placement and how touchy it was. It’s okay!
But don’t just leave someone hanging. Let them know right away that you are sorry, Facebook accidentally sent that message through. It only takes a few seconds to send a quick response. Own up to the accident, and the seller will be very appreciative. Facebook should really add a “my bad, I clicked that on accident” auto-response message, right?
Do Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Just communicate, k? Remember how to communicate properly by remembering the four “c-sounds” of communication: quickly, clearly, courteously, consistently.
Basically, just respond when you receive a message (no matter what, as soon as you see it), respond in a way that makes sense, respond kindly, and respond back-and-forth (don’t just drop off the face of the earth and leave the other person hanging).
Do Expect Messages Immediately
After listing an item for sale, expect to begin receiving messages immediately. More than half of the items I list end up with immediate messages. When you initially list an item, be ready for those messages. Someone may have been looking just for that item, and may respond immediately. They will expect your immediate response if the item was just listed. Give them that courtesy. This will also help you to keep things fair and go in order of who requests first.
Do Go In Order
Some items will get you many, many messages. When I listed our kitchen cabinets for sale as a “you-pull” item, I really didn’t expect an immediate response, but I had about twenty messages in less than an hour. Trying to respond in order was difficult, especially when some went to my “other” folder, but I did my best to look at the order they came in and the time stamps, and responded to everyone. It was a lot of work, but it helped me to be fair and kind. Don’t skip people just because you feel like it. It’s your item, true, but it says a lot about your character.
Do Update Listings
Have an item that is pending? There’s a button for that! Sold your item? There’s a button for that! Be sure to update your posts. If you can’t find the “mark pending” button, update your post description to reflect this.
Updating your Facebook Marketplace listings will show people that something is currently pending or no longer available, may reduce unwanted messages, and will give an easy explanation to those who have also messaged about the item listed as to why they have not received a message back yet. This also falls in the “clear communication” category.
Don’t Message a Thousand Times
One or two messages if you’re interested in an item is just fine. I will send one, even up to three if I forgot to ask something in the first messages, or if I want to send a “reminder question” when my message was seen and ignored—but no more than that unless they are direct back-and-forth responses.
My husband’s station wagon listing has just been a great pile of interesting “People of Marketplace,” so it makes for some great content for this post. He had one guy that literally sent him twenty-five messages all in a row while he was at work—his phone would not stop going off. The guy even called him a few times. He didn’t even end up buying it.
Be polite and considerate of people’s time. Don’t waste it.
Do Show Up
If you plan a time to meet someone you are selling to or buying from, meet them, and meet them in a timely manner. Sometimes things come up (traffic, etc), but do your best to be on time. People have things to do and places to be. If you are running a bit late or something comes up, let the seller/buyer know as soon as possible and plan a new time that works for both of you (usually just a few minutes from that time, if possible, unless you’ve given at least a day’s notice). If you are not reliable, the seller has a right to just pick someone else for the item.
Do Pay to Hold
If you can’t pick up an item immediately but you definitely want it, you may want to ask the seller if you can put money down to hold the item, no refunds. I rarely do this, as a buyer or seller, because you can’t always trust the other person to follow through, but I did allow this with the cabinets. They came in person to see the cabinets, but they did not have a vehicle to move them until a few days later. Knowing the cabinets were a hot item, they put half of the money down to hold the item until they could pick them up, which is when they gave us the other half.
Don’t expect the seller to simply hold an item for you because you can’t get it right away. They need it sold, and most people on Marketplace don’t actually show up. This is why many listings say “no holds” on them.
Don’t Ask Stupid Questions
Yes, there is such a thing as a stupid question. Do everyone a favor and read the actual listing first. If it says the full size, or color, or whatever it is you’re wanting to know, then you already have that info that you need. Don’t waste time asking again. Some questions you may need to ask to verify something in the description, if something is unclear, but many times you do not need to ask these questions if they’re already in the description.
This tip goes really well with a lot of others above, too…like not asking for crazy low prices, for someone to meet you far away, etc.
Do List Your General Location
Many sale groups already require this, but make sure you list your general location within the sale post. Do not list your address, obviously, but list a “pick up or meet in” city. You can even specify a Walmart to meet at, or say you’re I’m also available to meet in surrounding cities on certain days. You don’t need to be very specific, but give people an idea so they know ahead of time if they’ll have to travel an hour out to meet you.
Do Add a Description
Adding a clear description helps you get the most of your listings and helps buyers at the same time. Let the buyer know as much as you can about the item. Brand, full measurements (according to the package, actual assembled measurements, etc), and condition are all great things to add. If there is a scratch the buyer needs to know about, disclose it. If you know the material of the item, disclose it. This will help reach those who may be interested in buying and will help reduce a bunch of people asking the same questions. For those who ask the questions without reading the description, you can simply direct them back to the listing to read the full details.
Don’t say something is “brand new” that is very obviously not brand new. You can always use the “used-like new” tag if it fits (only if there are no flaws). I even use this for my handmade items if I used them even one time for an event or in-package items that have been sitting around my house collecting dust for years, rather than saying they are completely new. My go-to description is “used-good” if there is anything that someone could possibly say is not up to par.
Do Price Honestly
Don’t be that person who tries to lure people in with deceitful pricing. If you’re asking for several hundred dollars or you “have financing available,” don’t list it as “free.”
One guy listed a very old trumpet as free. It didn’t look like it was in amazing condition and there weren’t any crazy specifics in the description, and I’m always looking for affordable instruments for my kids to try out to peak their interest in music. In the description, he said to message him for more information. I figured he was maybe looking for a good person to pass on his old trumpet to, so I messaged asking for more info. Crazy guy wanted over $2000 for it!! Now, why didn’t he just put that in the listing initially?!
Don’t be that person who lists something at $400 then a couple of days later reduce it to $50 to make it look like you did some big discount. Everyone knows you’re just trying to lure people in for your pricing. And don’t be that person who lists something as $15 on the post as if it is the total for all items listed (say, three nesting bowls), then tell the potential buyer that the set of three matching bowls is $15 each. List them at the price for the set, then go into more detail in the description if needed.
If you have a certain price you want for an item, don’t list it as $1234, either. Just come out and say it.
I do, however, agree that Facebook should have more options to specify things like yard sales or lists of various items that may have different prices. (Be sure to add prices to each individual picture so people don’t have to ask for each item, and add the prices in a spot that won’t get cut off in the photo.)
Don’t Be Stingy
No one honestly cares if you paid $300 for an item eight years ago on Amazon and “barely used” it, so you want $290 for it. Face it—you simply can’t always get your money back. The only items that you can do this on are items that are completely brand-new (and the proverbial “they” recommends at least 33% off on “brand new” items if you aren’t an actual storefront). Make your listings fair, and go ahead and leave off the “I paid $x” nonsense. The only time I’ve added this is on a stroller that is over $300 retail and I’m only asking $20…because it is seriously the best stroller and no one is buying it. I have no room (and no babies anymore), or I’d wait to get more what it is worth (or keep it).
You would also be wise to search Marketplace for similar items to see what everyone else is selling them for, too. If you’re selling a certain tool that everyone else has for $40 in basically the same condition, comparable brand, etc, don’t even bother trying to ask for $200. If you want more, check other platforms to see if they’re selling for more there (eBay, Craigslist, etc).
Know your platform before listing. Facebook Marketplace is like an upscale yard sale site. You can’t necessarily get as much as you would on eBay (unless you offer shipping, which is a new option) and you should not try to get people to bid on Marketplace. However, you can get more than a yard sale where most expect to pay pocket change (because it has to be worthwhile for someone to travel for).
UPDATE: During the current pandemic, Nintendo Switch became difficult to get ahold of. I would like to think this was because families were buying systems and spending more time playing together, but the truth is that many bought them out and began listing items for at least two times the price on Marketplace. The one place I was able to finally purchase one for my family was through the military BX at regular price, but I saw others purchasing them that way too then trying to resell an item they bought for $300 for $600. While I understand this can be a clever way to make money, I do believe there are certain times to use discretion and not take advantage of situations like pandemic shopping, robbing families of the chance to get something their family can spend time sharing. Don’t be that guy.
Do Use Actually-Helpful Photos
Please, please don’t use stock photos. It may be harder to get actual photos of the item, but stop using stock photos to show your “item” that is for sale. No one knows what the item actually looks like, you are probably breaking a bunch of copyright laws, and it just makes you look lazy and untrustworthy. Take the time to take pictures of the actual product. If you want to show the full item as it is intended to look, you can find a stock photo of the specific item with the details on it, but only add that as one of the last pictures for added help, and not as the main photo (or do what this person in the photo below did!).
UPDATE: In response to a comment, I want to reiterate that I do occasionally add stock photos when needed, such as when an item is still in its packaging. However, I also add pictures of the box itself (best if labelled) from several angles to show all of the details and the box condition. I would recommend starting with a picture of the package that shows the assembled product, if possible, as opposed to starting with a generic box photograph or a stock photograph. This may not always be possible, but make sure you don’t just use stock photographs in your listing. These real photos can make all the difference!
While you’re taking pictures, make an effort to take decent photos. They don’t have to look professional, but people should be able to tell what the item is enough to know if it’s worth purchasing. I’ve seen so many photos that are blurry beyond recognition, so dark that a bright yellow lamp looks like a purply human silhouette, zoomed in so much that you can see the pixels on the printed laminate but not a single image of the full shelving unit, and photos of mirrors that showed some pretty…strange…things in their reflections. Taking halfway decent photos is not a science, especially with all the automatic features on phones and cameras these days.
Take the time to add several photos, also. Even on items that I list that don’t really need a second photo, I try to add another photo. I take photos that are farther away to show the full picture (these are usually the first photo you’ll see), a photo of the item closer, photos from various angles, photos in different lighting (when color is an issue or if it’s a light fixture that I want to show turned on and turned off), and photos of any imperfections the buyer should be aware of. Full disclosure and thoroughness ahead of time has really helped me rock selling on Facebook Marketplace.
Don’t Go Tag-Crazy
For most, Facebook will let you add some “tags” to your product to help your posts get seen. Make sure these tags are useful and related to the listed item. I’m looking at you, Car Salesman.
Generally, Facebook will limit the amount of tags you use to about five. At one point, my listings kept getting marked for “breaking their rules” (apparently hall lights and bird-shaped decor are bad? Don’t tag animals, even if your product is obviously not a real animal…), so Facebook briefly took away my ability to add tags, but usually I am able to add as many tags as I want (likely because of my good standing with Facebook Marketplace).
Don’t abuse this amazing tool!
Have you ever noticed that used vehicles tend to pop up with pretty much any keyword you search?! I’ve typed in some of the most unrelated things (like “feeding trough”) and was presented with a long list of used vehicles to choose from. This is because they sometimes “keyword load” to get seen.
UPDATE: I have been able to use up to 20 tags on Marketplace now. Generally, I do not need all of them, as I will not tag things that have nothing to do with my product. However, there are some times I will tag them all. I posted metal shelving units, so I tagged various terms or descriptions for the shelving units, things that pertained to organization, pantry, office, and other places someone may have needed these shelves for storage…
Don’t be that guy.
Use keywords that actually match the item listed. Listing an old rocking chair for sale? Use keywords like “rockingchair,” “furniture,” “vintage,” “vintagefurniture,” “chairs,” “seating,” “livingroom,” and “home” and not keywords like “automobiles,” “brandnew,” “art,” or “food.” Makes sense, right? Right.
Overall, I just want you to remember to treat others how you want to be treated. Be a polite and reliable buyer and seller. I’ve had to block many people on Facebook to prevent myself from being harassed or falling for their time-wasting far too many times.
- Don’t Be Rude
- Don’t Talk Down to Women
- Don’t Assume
- Do Speak Sensibly
- Do Ask Things Politely
- Do Be Honest and Transparent (Whether You’re Buying or Selling)
- Don’t Act Like People Owe You Something
- Don’t Be a Jerk When Negotiating
- Don’t Ask The Seller to Counter Their Own Price
- Don’t Ask for Lower Prices If You’re Traveling
- Don’t Lower Your Offer In Person
- Don’t Try to Undercut Others
- Do Respond If Someone Messages You
- Do Respond, Even If You Message On Accident
- Do Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
- Do Expect Messages Immediately
- Do Go In Order
- Do Update Listings
- Don’t Message a Thousand Times
- Do Show Up
- Do Pay to Hold
- Don’t Ask Stupid Questions
- Do List Your General Location
- Do Add a Description
- Do Price Honestly
- Don’t Be Stingy
- Do Use Actually-Helpful Photos
- Don’t Go Tag-Crazy
Be the good guy, and you’ll have a successful Facebook Marketplace experience.