Thanks to one of the people in our trivia group, I found OfferUp. It’s now my go-to site, preferred far and away over Craigslist.
Offer Up is pretty similar to Craigslist, but it has a few key advantages.
It’s a website and an app
If you’re smartphone averse (or if yours is charging) you have the option of using the regular website to browse, contact sellers with questions or make offers. One of the few downsides is that you can only list items through the app.
The app itself is wonderfully intuitive. Plus you’ll instantly see the image for every single listing. Comparatively, Craiglist users on smartphones or tablets will only be told that an image is in the listing. They have to click it to see the actual picture. (Not to mention that Craigslist has the annoying policy of letting people post for sale items without pictures at all. Why bother?)
That said, the different policies bring me to another downside of the app: no text. The app lets you easily see whether an item looks good, but you can’t see the seller’s location or any details/caveats unless you click on the listing itself.
The seller’s location might not be a big deal in places like Seattle, where even the suburbs can be only 12 miles away. But other places are a lot more remote. And even bigger cities, like Phoenix, can be painfully sprawling. For example, East Valley suburbs like Tempe, Chandler and Mesa are 20 to 30 miles away. Besides the frustration of a long drive, you’re adding $5 in gas money to the item’s price.
Easy to communicate
Unlike Craigslist — where you have to gamble that your/would-be buyers’ emails won’t be marked as spam — OfferUp has its own messaging system. You’ll never miss a question/offer from buyers or a reply from sellers. That’s a load off my mind!
The app is especially great for this because it instantly notifies you of a new message or offer. Even if I don’t hear the notification ding, I’ll see it the next time I use the iPad. I love not having to check messages constantly.
Website-only users can rest easy too. You’ll get email alerts of queries/offers/replies, and you can reply directly to the email rather than going back to the OfferUp site to communicate. The only potential issue here is that you still run the risk of the emails ending up in your spam folder. But you can just check your messages once or twice a day to make sure you get all communication.
I love the safety net!
Easy to sell
As a seller, I hate that Craiglist divides cities into subsections. We’re less than 20 blocks from the western city limit but also relatively far north. Do I list as West Valley or Phoenix North? Someone choosing to surf a specific area of the city might miss my listing because it’s mislabeled. It nags at me every time I list something, and I don’t love the idea of double listing every single item I post.
OfferUp nicely solves this issue by not dividing the city up for searches. Instead, it uses your zip code to tell other customers how far away you are. That’s important because, as noted before, Phoenix and its suburbs have serious sprawl. I’ve seen items in Glendale (the suburb 20 blocks away) that are three miles from us; but I’ve also seen Glendale listings 15 miles away.
Having the exact distance is a huge help when people want to decide whether to pursue your listing. You don’t have the hassle of a back and forth with potential buyers, have them decide they’re interested, ask your address, then reply that you’re too far away.
The downside of selling on OfferUp, as I mentioned, is that you can only do it via the app. I know that’s not a big a barrier in this day and age. Most people have smart phones and/or tablets. It’s more of an annoyance for people like me who prefer to type on computers.
Easy to buy
The same things that make selling easy are what make buying easy:
- The instant notifications means sellers tend to respond faster
- You can see every item rather than hoping the interesting listings have images.
- You don’t have to worry about your messages going to spam
- You can check distance ahead of time, potentially skipping a bunch of ultimately fruitless emails.
In fact, regarding location, you can actually sort by distance, putting the closest items at the forefront of the results. You can also sort by price, which is just nifty for frugal folks like us, right?
Another advantage: You know whether the seller is open to counteroffers.
If sellers are set on the amount, they’ll mark “Firm on Price” when they list it. In those cases, you’ll be notified when you click the Make An Offer button.
But if you don’t get that notification, it means the person is probably flexible on price. (“Probably” being the key word, since sometimes sellers just forget to mark it. I offered $15 on a $20 listing once and the seller immediately replied that she was sticking with $20.) But by and large you have a much better indication of whether you have some leeway in price. It’s a gamble on Craigslist.
This also gives you an advantage as a seller. If you’re not sure on a price, go with the slightly higher option and, if it’s too much, someone will probably make you a reasonable offer. Other times you’ll be surprised and get the higher amount. A new-in-the-box deep fat fryer — something perennially on Black Friday sales for $20 — went almost immediately for $15. I was prepared to happily take $10.
Meanwhile, as a buyer you can feel more comfortable asking for less if you think something is overpriced. With Craigslist, the impression is always that the price is set in stone. And my overactive guilt complex worries that I’ll offend them with a lower offer.
And speaking of prices, the final reason OfferUp is superior to Craigslist: It tends to have lower prices. Not always, but usually.
This isn’t to say that OfferUp has to replace Craigslist. I have too much financial/decorating FOMO to not check Craigslist too. I want all the options, which is to say the best items at the lowest prices. (Which is to say that I have to do a lot of searches before finding what I need.)
But I’m doing a lot fewer searches these days because I’m finding what I need on OfferUp.
Folding chairs that are routinely $10+ on Craigslist were $20-for-four on OfferUp. (The prettiest? No. But I’ll figure something out.)
We found an action figure for Tim’s collection — normally $50– for $20. Nothing like that is even on Craigslist.
And I found two pieces of $5 jewelry for a costume I needed for an ’80s dance party.
Still, I’m not suggesting you switch solely to OfferUp. (Unless you can only handle one marketplace at a time.) But I will say that OfferUp should be your first stop. And that it may end up being your only one.
Do you use OfferUp? Is there another online marketplace I should be looking at?