Have you ever purchased furniture from online classifieds or out of a newspaper classified section? If you have, I congratulate you and if you haven’t – what is stopping you? Classifieds are a wonderful resource, and with the popularity of Craigslist and other online resources, you can make money and sell goods at affordable rates. For those that have heard the horror stories of buying from classifieds, there are rules for safety and advice for buying from those you don’t know.  Look at the 10 tips for buying furniture from classifieds, your junk may be someone else’s treasure – and you can put a little green in your pocket at the same time!

1.) Find out history of product before you go look: A lot of online classifieds success is based on the honor system.  If you are not honest or the people posting ads are not honest then there are always inevitable problems that can arise.  Assuming we are working with hones people – ask about the history of the item.  Why are they selling? How long have they had it? Has it been damaged? Where did they buy it? Ask for dimensions of the furniture.

2.) Research the same item in multiple locations: Most of the time there is a duplicate furniture item to the one you want somewhere else in the world! Meaning, do research on other classifieds to see if the price is comparable, or even shop around at retail stores.  This will help you know how much it would cost new, or it may help you gain more information about how it’s made.

3.) Measure out the space in your home first: Once you ask for dimensions of the furniture piece, make sure it will fit in the space you intend it for. Allow for a few inches give space for inaccuracies in measuring.  You’d hate to haul a piece of furniture to your home, only to find it doesn’t fit!

4.) Negotiating a price before you meet: One common mistake is waiting until you see the item and then offering a much lesser price.  If the items isn’t in the condition that was posted this is a different story.  When talking over the phone or by email, confirm the price or what you are willing to pay in advance. This will prevent misunderstandings when you meet in person.

5.) Confirm where you will meet: If the furniture item you are buying is small enough, you may opt to meet the person at a remote location that is convenient for both of you.  If it is a large piece of furniture, have a friend go with you and be prepared to have the ability to take it home. I.e.: truck, hand dolly to help with heavy items, etc…

6.) Safety first: If the area when you arrive seems unsafe, call the person back asking if you can reschedule for another time, or bow out of the meeting.  Always have someone with you and carry a cell phone, and alert another party where you are going to meet the seller, before you leave home.

7.) Check out the item thoroughly before buying: When reviewing the furniture, look over it and ‘test’ it out. If it’s a chair, sit in it, turn it over and look at construction, etc… Things to look for: *wear and tear * solid construction *working parts *loose components.  If the seller posted the ad as selling it “As-is” then you are being warned that the current condition is how they are selling it.

8.) Ask for warranty papers/directions/manuals: Especially for newer furniture or household items, the seller will still have the original paperwork that went with it.  If they don’t it is fine, it doesn’t hurt to ask and it may save you time and money in the future if it gets damaged or has faulty manufacturer workmanship.

9.) Ask the seller for permission for future contact: Often times a seller will offer for you to take it home and try it, if you have problems to call them.  Sellers sometimes have other pieces of furniture that they come across that may be of interest to you. Future contact would help.

10.) Consider being a seller/buyer in the future: Once you’ve had a good experience, try being on the opposite side next time. Classifieds can save you money and often times tenants moving and relocating, are great opportunities to buy gently used furniture.

Embrace the idea of buying furniture on classifieds. They are a good resource for second hand furniture, antiques, and self assembly pieces (that you won’t have to assemble).  Consider these 10 tips for your next selling or purchasing of furniture.  You can find bargains and you can declutter your home too!

Freshome reader’s do you buy from the classifieds? What are the pros and cons that you can share with us?