I have heard from several of you, however, that tell me you never have any luck. Although I don't have any magic formula, I will share my best advice for finding--and getting--great deals on Craigslist:
1. Search the site often. If you're looking for a specific item (or even if you're just browsing), look several times a day--or more. New listings are added all the time, and if there's something really great, you want to be the first to know about it. Sometimes I type in keywords, but usually, I just keep refreshing the page to scour new listings.
This Pottery Barn wool rug was used in a builder's model home for a few short months. I found it on Craigslist for just $100.
2. Don't use keywords that are too specific in your search. If you are looking for a tufted chair, for example, I would just search by "chair." In many cases, sellers may not know the correct term for tufting, upholstered, etc. I can't tell you how many times I see "cloth chairs" listed. . . If your search terms are more broad, you'll come up with more results and hopefully find a gem that other buyers have missed.
This pair of slipper chairs were literally like new and had been sitting in the seller's unused foyer. I was lucky enough to find them for $100 each.
3. Be decisive, and act fast. Craigslist is not the place to spend two weeks deciding if the $25 coffee table you found is the perfect fit for your living room. Good items will go fast. So, if you find it, like it and feel like it's a fair price, go for it and don't look back.
I found this oversized abstract painting for $125 and bought it immediately.
4. Always offer less than the asking price. I always email with a lower offer (still within reason) or to ask if they're willing to negotiate. Why not? Nine times out of ten, I get a better deal. Craigslist is made for negotiation. I just try to keep my offers fair so that the seller will know I'm a serious buyer and respond.
I had no real place for this chair when I found it, but it was a great deal from a model home listing and I loved the lines.
5. If you can't afford it, email the seller with your budget. I know I just said to email the seller with a reasonable offer. That being said, if you're looking at a bigger ticket item and can't necessarily pay what they're asking, I will sometimes email the seller and tell them what I can pay, in case the item doesn't sell.
This is the very way I got our family room sofa. The seller had a Rowe sofa that had been used for less than six months and was then wrapped in plastic and stored when they moved. She was asking $700. I emailed her and told her I only had a budget of $300. She politely declined. I understood. She emailed me a month later and told me she would take $500. I politely declined. Fast forward another month later--and sofa still sitting wrapped in storage--she emailed me again and told me she would take $300. Done deal!
6. Imagine the possibilities! I always try to look closely at the (very often terrible) photographs on Craigslist to find the potential of a piece of furniture. Think about what changes you can make with paint, fabric, etc. I look for the small details that may make a piece really shine after a little makeover. Remember my bookcases? I got them for just $20 each, but this is what they looked like online, and then after some TLC:
Cottage and Vine with the details.
Good luck with your searches and happy shopping! Would love to see what you find.