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You’re finally ready to sell some of the stuff that’s been piling up in your closet or garage. But you are put off by the thought of dealing with strangers, and having them show up at your house. There is a better way, a sort of middle ground between eBay and Craigslist, called OfferUp. By the way, if you want to use another online platform like eBay, this article is still full of helpful hints.

OfferUp provides one of the easiest and most streamlined selling experiences available. I have sold much of my own “stuff” through various sites and apps. OfferUp has consistently been one of the easiest apps to use. Their customer base is huge and recently increased through their acquisition of another popular app called LetGo.

Why Sell on OfferUp?

  • Selling on OfferUp is simple.
  • It’s Private: The app can handle all communication, and you don’t need to disclose your exact address.
  • You can ship items nationwide.
  • You can build reputation as a seller.

Selling on OfferUp is Simple

The OfferUp app removes a lot of the effort and barriers involved in creating a listing. You will need to provide a few essential details about the item including a title, description, a price. Then just add some photos, and you are ready to sell. 

The app makes it really easy to create a simple listing, but it usually pays off to take a few extra steps. Prepare a very detailed description, select an appropriate price, and take some clear, well-lit photos that show every angle and any imperfections.

Good photos are critical since they are the first thing a buyer sees as they scroll through dozens of similar listings. A crisp well-lit photo on a neutral background will make your item stand out from the crowd.

It’s Private: The App Handles All Communication and You Don’t Need to Disclose Your Address

You do not have to disclose your phone or email, or any other contact information. All communication with the buyers can be done through the app. There is no need to exchange additional personal details, like your address.

Buyers or sellers may ask for your phone number or an alternative way to connect. Keep in mind that is not required and you can complete a sale by communicating exclusively through the app.

The current version of OfferUp will show your approximate location, but the exact address is not displayed. You can keep your address private and meet buyers at local coffee shops or other public locations. I have done this several times in the past. You should always be aware of your surroundings, even in public spaces.

Meeting in public locations works for most items, with the exception of larger furniture or other bulky items. I should note that you will be asked to provide a return address when shipping.

You Can Ship Items Nationwide

Shipping is my favorite feature of OfferUp. Whenever you post something for sale you can choose to ship the item nationwide, which greatly increases your likelihood of a sale compared with a local listing. OfferUp will charge an extra fee from the proceeds of the sale, currently 12.9%. But again, your exposure and likelihood of getting a sale should increase significantly.

Once you choose to ship you’ll have to provide the approximate package size and weight to determine the shipping cost. It’s important to get this right so you don’t have to pay the difference at the post office. I have a food scale and a tape measure at the ready when I’m listling.

OfferUp will email you the label that you can print and attach to the package. You are responsible for packing and shipping, so pack well to ensure the item is not damaged during shipping. The buyer covers the cost of shipping. Other apps let you offer free shipping to attract more buyers, but that could eat into your profits.

After you do accept an offer you will be required to ship the item within 3 business days. Allow yourself the time to do that and don’t accept an offer while on vacation or if you’re about to leave town.

You can read more about shipping with Offerup here. 

You Can Build Reputation as a Seller

Unlike some of the anonymous sites, OfferUp allows you to build a reputation, as do eBay and some other platforms. As you sell more and have more satisfied buyers your rating in the app will increase. A higher rating means more trust and quicker future sales. The app also tracks your response times and reliability so you should make sure to always respond to inquiries promptly

You can add a photo and more verification methods to increase your credibility and attract more potential buyers. And when buying on OfferUp (or any other platform), approach buying with the same attention, courtesy, and reliability you do selling. The rating in the app combines your rating as a buyer and a seller.

Be specific and clear about your listing, reliable in communication, and on time to finalize the transaction. You’ll be rewarded with good reviews that will help you in the future.

Tips for Selling on OfferUp

  • How to price your item for quick sale.
  • Tips for taking photos of your items.

How to Price Your Item for Quick Sale

You need to be realistic and adjust your price to the market price and not what you feel. Most of the time quick google or eBay research will suffice, but you can also use a depreciation calculator to help you avoid overpricing your stuff. You cannot expect a nostalgia premium and should be realistic about what you ask.

There are two options when you set the price in the OfferUp app, you can set an asking price or a firm price. A firm price will only allow offers at that exact price. Buyers can still message and ask for a discount but the official offer button will only allow them to make a full price offer.

Leave Room for Negotiation

People are always looking for bargains, that is especially true on apps like OfferUp, so leave some room for negotiation. Unless you decide to post a “firm price” you will receive offers that are lower than your asking price. It’s always a good idea to pad and leave room for negotiation.

No matter how low the price, someone will ask for a discount. Keep your price realistic and competitive but be ready to accept a lower offer. I like to always add a buffer so I can then negotiate down to my original asking price. This works well even when the buyer tries to anchor by offering significantly below the posted price. Having a buffer allows you to show some goodwill in negotiation while maintaining a price you are comfortable with.

Keep your price realistic and competitive, and be willing to accept a lower offer. It’s generally a good idea to always respond to offers. You should do so even when they are unreasonable to keep your response rate high. Don’t take it personally if buyers don’t think it’s worth what you think; these apps are a pretty pure reflection of what something is worth.

Beware of the Endowment Effect and Other Traps

The endowment effect is a tendency to over-value the things you own. As a result people often list prices that are too high relative to the current market values. Make sure to research prices and find comparable items for sale to avoid this trap. Seeing what others are offering and getting on the market will make it easier to be realistic.

A laptop you bought two years ago for well over a thousand dollars might only be worth a couple of hundred bucks today. This might be difficult to accept, but you need to make your peace with the market value. One of the things I remind myself when I don’t get my price, is that it’s not just about making money, it’s about getting rid of things I don’t need and lightening my load. It also gets the item into the hands of someone who WILL use it; that makes me feel better.

In the absence of comparable listings, you could try using a depreciation calculator to help estimate a reasonable value. It could help you break free of any sentimental premium you might otherwise try to ask for.

Some Tips for Taking Photos of Your Items

Show Only What is For Sale

Show only what is being sold in the photos, anything else will be distracting for the potential buyer. Remove any visual clutter from the background (you can crop the photos if they show too much). When this is not possible indicate clearly what you are selling in the title and description and note anything superfluous.

Use Daylight or Bright Lighting so the Item is Easily Visible

Unless you’re a skilled photographer you should take your photos in daylight. In the absence of daylight, use lighting that is bright enough so the item and all of its features or flaws can be seen. Buyers should be able to easily determine the condition of the item you are selling from the photo.

Have a Neutral Background that Contrasts with the Item

Use a contrasting but neutral background to make the item stand out. I use my black counters or a large piece of white paper, but a clean tabletop will suffice. It should be easily distinguishable even among multiple rows of similar listings. If the photo is not clear at the regular size it will be extra difficult to see when browsing the listings.

Don’t use Zoom or Flash on Your Smartphone

Avoid using the digital zoom on your smartphone since that will usually result in a much lower quality photo. Also, don’t use the flash as it is usually too intense. The built-in flash can create intense reflections and distort colors. It’s better to use good ambient lighting or take your photos in daylight. Check the color of the photos against the real item to make sure the color is captured well; you can change the lighting if it’s too far off.

Clean the Item

This should be obvious but clean the thing you are selling! Everything looks better without a coat of dust and it also shows the prospective buyer that you care.

Shopify, a major e-commerce site, has a comprehensive guide for taking product photos with your phone.

Download the App

You can download the app or view the site here.

After you start selling, my guess is that you’ll start to enjoy turning your old stuff into a few dollars. It feels good to have a clean closet and a cluttered wallet, rather than the other way around.