Finding Flips: Advice

After hours—and hours—of scouring Facebook Marketplace, Lila and Addi learned a thing or two. While Marketplace seems easy to navigate, there are a few tips and tricks to get the best out of your user experience. After flipping five pieces of furniture and listing them on the site, we’ve seen how this goes from both sides. 

Buying 

Good things go fast. The best items on Facebook Marketplace are typically snatched up within a day, but there have been times when even 22 minutes was too slow for items we were looking at. There are also sellers who prioritize those who can come pick up the item the soonest, so being able to act quickly will give you an advantage. When people are moving, they are often willing to sell items for lower prices in order to speed up the process—these are some of the best listings you will see. Try to snatch those quickly. If you snooze, you lose. 

There are categories for virtually anything and everything. Rugs, roller skates, antiques, you name it. If you’re actively on the hunt for a more specific item, check that category every day. That’s a good way to possibly catch new listings. If you’re lucky, you may even be one of the first to view a free item that’s perfect for what you’re imagining. Items are often included in multiple categories, so make sure to also check related searches to ensure you are seeing everything!

Our favorite categories to browse are: free in your area and newly listed in your area. But one tip for searching is to edit the settings. Typically Marketplace shows promoted items that are newer, more expensive, and require shipping. To get these to stop showing up, set the delivery option to local pickup and dropoff only. That way you’re only shown what’s in your area rather than sponsored or online shopping options. 

Just about every deal we made was under the asking price. Be prepared to ask for less. What’s the worst they can say? No? On the flip side, be prepared for others to bargain with you if you’re the seller. 

Keep in mind there are other ways you can sweeten the deal that don’t involve paying more money. Sellers often like it if you can come pick up the item yourself, if you pay cash, or if you are willing to work around their schedule. 

Selling 

The Google Lens feature is a game changer, and you can use it from the app right on your phone. After scanning an object or uploading a photo, it does a reverse Google search. Instead of searching for a specific item, Google Lens already knows that you have what you want. The reverse search is able to provide supplemental information, like what similar items are available, where to buy a similar item, and how much they’re sold for. It’s helpful for pricing items you already have, or you can screenshot a listing to see how much it’s actually worth. Since many sellers don’t know their item’s worth, buyers can get some great deals! As a seller, this can stop you from underestimating the value of your item. 

Even if you can’t find an exact match for your item, it’s a great starting point for finding out when it was made, the design style, and other basic details. Being able to figure out what similar items are worth helps you list your own item. By using this, we found out that wicker furniture is worth much more than we had imagined. Also, it helped us sell a pair of midcentury trays for a fair, accurate price.

Wherever you’re located, search for local buy/sell Facebook groups—they’re more common than you think. When you’re posting a listing on Marketplace, it will let you repost in those groups. Doing so boosts views and helps the algorithm. Plus, this increases the chances that your item will be sold faster. 

These groups can also be good for finding items that other people have listed in your area. Just entering a search for our local area—“Des Moines buy and sell”—into the Facebook search bar brought up over 35 pages dedicated to buying, selling, trading, and swapping in the greater Des Moines area.

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