Searching for deals on Craigslist is a lot like wandering about a huge flea market. You could spend all day searching for a total steal but end up totally empty-handed.

Good thing there are several ways in minimizing that risk of zeroing out. Here are 7 ways to get the best deals on Craigslist:  

1. Make The Most Of Each Search Inquiry

There are many ways to describe a particular item for sale. For example, an antique bench can also be listed as a used outdoor chair. So what you can do is insert a “|” in between. Hit the enter key and the list would come up for both search terms.

You’d also want to play with elimination in case you’re looking for something more specific than an antique bench. For example, you’d want a wooden one. So you insert a “-“, and “metal” in between. Hit enter and the list will be devoid of benches that are made of metal.  

2. Be Really Specific

Going to a flea market with nothing particular in mind could be fine, but it won’t work if you’re scrounging about in Craigslist. In order to be successful in hunting bargains, you’d need to have something very specific in mind.

Ask yourself- “what coffee table will I need for my new apartment?” The size, the make, the function, aesthetics and of course, the price must be appealing. It can take several months for that exact item to surface, but when it does you’ll be prepared and ready for it.  

3. Send A Complete Inquiry

So maybe you’ve found a good deal on Craigslist. The price is right, the location is just a few miles and everything looks good so far. But like a wise buyer, you should send an inquiry to make a better informed decision. How does one send a good inquiry?

That will depend on the item in question. Excellent starting inquiries include asking if the seller is the first owner, what year is the make and what other items or accessories will be thrown in. If you’re uncertain about the condition, do ask for a clear picture.

Don’t forget to include your cell number or email address so the seller can get back to you. Use complete sentences and begin the initial offer with a much lower figure than your target price.  

4. Inspect Before Buying

Take it slow. Go over the item carefully and see if what was advertised is the same as the presented item. Do a quality test and run it through the paces. Open each drawer, look under, bounce on it, lie down on it or thump it for good measure.

Don’t just fork over your money- make sure it’s what you want. You’ll still have the buyer’s right to walk away if the goods don’t meet your expectations.  

5. Look For Scam Signals

If a listed item for sale is too good to be true, it probably is. Does the item have pictures, but the pictures themselves look like they came from a stock photo site? Too many typo errors? Check the responder’s email address for any negative reviews, scam flags or fraud by doing a Google search.

Minimize the risk of losing money by going for a meetup. That means no shipping, money order or fund transfers until you come face to face and determine that the item’s truly legit. Moreover, choose to meet in a public place that has plenty of people. Bring a companion if the location is a private home.  

6. Put In Extensions

Surfing Craigslist with your Chrome browser? Make everything easier by installing extensions such as Craigslist Peek, which shows image previews of posts, or Popup Notifications, which informs you that there’s a new listing for a set search parameter.  

7. Don’t Give Up

It’s not a perfect world. There will be the seller who won’t ever respond to your inquiries. For every good deal you come across, there’s one that’s already taken. There will be scams and long droughts.

The key is not to give up and continue to look for items you may need. Just be patient and keep searching away on Craigslist. There are thousands of new postings everyday, so the deal you’re looking for just might very well appear tomorrow.

Be diligent and you’ll be finely rewarded with awesome deals on Craigslist!