Item Not Selling? Make Sure to Take Into Account These Top Factors

Jill Vonier

Jill Vonier

8 min read

It can be frustrating when an item you have listed isn't selling. Here we take on the top reasons why.

Woman looking frustrated at her laptop

Craigslist is a great place to sell your items to make extra money. It's free to post, it has a large user base, and it's very easy to use. Check out our blog Ultimate Guide to Selling Used Items on Craigslist to find out how to publish an item to sell.

Once you've published your item listing to Craigslist, it's time to sit back and wait. But for how long? What is an appropriate expectation for when your Craigslist item will sell?

There are a number of factors that can determine how quickly an item will sell on a site like Craigslist. Some of the most important factors include the price, the quality and condition of the item, the demand for the item, outside competition, and your location.

Read on to find out how these factors can impact when your item will sell on Craigslist.

Factor 1: The Price

One big part of posting your item on Craigslist is determining the price. If you set the price too high, potential buyers may be hesitant to make an offer. The price needs to be both fair and competitive. Fair enough for you to be satisfied but competitive enough to attract potential buyers.

We suggest taking some extra time to research an appropriate price for your item. Consider its original price when it was new, its current age, and its current condition.

You can also look up similar items on Craigslist and other online marketplaces to get an idea of a fair price. This can also help you set a competitive price to make your item even more appealing to potential buyers. Why spend more when they can get it from you for less?

If you set a fair and reasonable price for your item, it is more likely to sell quickly. You can also provide as many details in the description to explain how the price was decided, such as rarity or anything special about it that makes it more expensive.

For more information on deciding on the right price, see our blog post How Much is it Worth? Tips for Setting the Right Price.

Factor 2: Quality & Condition

Another big factor that impacts how quickly your item will sell is its quality and condition. These factors will greatly depend on the item.

For example, if you're selling a bluetooth speaker that doesn't connect to a source, that will greatly impact the decision of a potential buyer looking for a bluetooth speaker that works.

A bluetooth speaker that works like new will sell quicker than one that needs repairs. A new cashmere sweater will likely sell quicker than an off-brand cotton sweater with holes in it. However, there may be the instance where you can actually improve the condition, such as getting the item fixed or cleaning it up.

Consider the quality and condition of your items. If they're not in a good working order, make sure the price is reflective of that. There may still be a market for non-working items, but it needs to be clearly stated and the price should be appropriately set.

Factor 3: The Demand

Items that are in high-demand will sell quicker than items not in demand. You don't have to be an economic major to understand items in high demand that are in low supply can sell quickly and at higher prices.

For example, if it's Christmastime and you're selling a Nintendo Switch that is out of stock at GameStop, Walmart, and Best Buy, it will likely sell within hours. However, if it's Christmastime and you're selling a Walmart swimsuit, it likely will take some time to get some interested buyers.

There isn't much you can do to change the demand for your item. However, you can add images that make it more appealing, or reduce the price for a better deal.

Factor 4: The Competition

The amount of competition your item has can impact how quickly it will sell. If there are a lot of other people selling the same or similar items, it can be more difficult to sell your item quickly.

If everyone is getting rid of their Xbox Series S because they want to upgrade to Xbox Series X, it's possible you won't be able to sell your Series S as quickly. Or even worse, Xbox decides to discount their Series S as the same price as your used Series S. The competition can be both other individuals and businesses.

This can also be true if you're selling a generic item where brand and specs don't really matter. For example, selling some brand cooking utensils that get the job just as good as off-brand cooking utensils may take some time to sell. Instead of just being in the pool of brand cooking utensils, you're now competing against all cooking utensils.

It's worth putting in some effort to get to know your competition to recognize the best way to market your item. This can help you set an appropriate price, provide good pictures, and provide a more detailed description to make your product more marketable than your competition.

Factor 5: The Location

Photo of downtown Bellevue, Washington

Craigslist was originally designed to sell items locally. It's best practice to sell local anyway to meet in-person for a safe and secure transaction. Therefore, where you are located will greatly impact how quickly you can sell your item. If you're located in a busy, populated area, it is more likely that your item will sell more quickly. However, if you are located in a remote or less populated area, it may take longer to find an interested buyer.

There isn't much you can do to fix your location. If you live near a big city, you could be willing to meet people in the city to conduct a transaction. Otherwise, your best bet is to make your item more appealing, either by reducing the price or making it more marketable.

Factor 6: No Room To Negotiate

If you've had some interested buyers but you've turned away offers, you may need to be more flexible with your price.

When setting a price before your item posted to Craigslist, you should always make some room for negotiation. People are on Craigslist looking for a good deal so they may want to give you an offer lower than your asking price.

It's important to be open to listen to these offers, consider the perspective of the potential buyer, and try to be as flexible as possible.

Of course, if the price being offered is far less than your asking price, you have the right to turn it down and walk away. However, recognize being flexible is part of peer-to-peer sales and you should be open to some wiggle room.

Factor 7: Title & Description

Another factor impacting how quickly your Craigslist item sells is the title and description.

Most Craigslist buyers find the items they're looking for by using the Craigslist search engine. If your title doesn't hit the right keywords, it may not be showing up to the right audience.

Another factor may be an unclear description. Is your description well-written or is it confusing? Does it provide enough details or are your potential buyers having to ask a lot of additional questions?

If users are having to frequently reach out to get more information from you, your description may not be complete enough and could be turning away potential buyers. For more tips on improving your listing, see our blog post How to Make Your Listing Stand Out.

If your item isn't selling quickly enough, it's important to recognize the major factors that may be impacting the timeline. Once you recognize these factors, you can make the necessary changes to try and speed up the process.

First, do some research and see if your item is priced too high. If it is, you can try lowering the price of your item to make it more attractive to potential buyers. You can also try to improve the quality and condition of the item, if possible, or set a price and description that is reflective of the quality and condition.

It's possible there isn't a high enough demand for your item. If that's the case, there are other methods you can try to improve the marketability, such as updating the price, description, and images.

Your competition and location will also impact how quickly your items will sell. Consider what the market is like for your product and make necessary adjustments to make it more marketable.

Additionally, you can try to make your item stand out by writing a detailed and compelling description and including clear and relevant keywords. This will help potential buyers better find your items and move transactions more quickly.

If you've turned away offers, you may not be being flexible enough. People are on Craigslist for a good deal and therefore, negotiations are a normal part of buying and selling.

Once you've considered the factors and made necessary adjustments, you'll be on your way to selling your items more quickly than ever!


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Use OfferTrackr to automatically track the availability of your items, negotiate prices, schedule pickups, and send out reminders.
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