“You paid what???”
My buddy Alex could scarcely believe my luck – and to be honest, I couldn’t really either.
Before us lay the latest treasure I’d unearthed from Facebook Marketplace: $3,500 worth of ultra-high-end speakers.
Why was Alex in disbelief? Well, I paid $100 for them, all thanks to a sweet suburban mom who just wanted them out of her house.
“Not fair! How do you keep getting these insane deals?”
He began gesturing indignantly at some of my other Facebook Marketplace treasures from the past five years, including:
- A $4,500 Italian leather sectional I paid $300 for.
- A $200 Keurig I paid $10 for.
- My $2,000 TV, which cost me $500.
“Let’s not even talk about what’s in your friggin’ driveway.” By that, I assume he was referring to my $10,000 Miata…that I paid $1,000 for.
Finding amazing deals on Facebook Marketplace has become a weird superpower of mine, and I’m ready to share my secrets.
1. Search using a variety of keyword combos
Unlike on Amazon, searching on Facebook Marketplace can sometimes require a little finesse.
On Amazon, product listings are packed with keywords so you can find them more easily. That’s how we get short, catchy product names like this:
On Facebook, however, listings may only have one or two keywords in them – making them harder to find:
Heck, my $3,500 speakers were listed as just “surround sound speakers” – no brand, no model.
So how do you find these amazing “ghost listings”?
Simple: cast a wide net!
I found these speakers by searching several keywords and phrases. Although I specifically wanted Paradigm-branded speakers, I performed all five of these searches for days:
- Paradigm Mini Monitor Speakers.
- Paradigm Speakers.
- 5.1 Speakers.
- Home Theater Speakers.
- Surround Speakers.
Finally, on attempt number five, bingo – my dream speakers popped up!
2. Filter out junk listings
Unfortunately, Facebook Marketplace still has some of the “junk listings” that have completely overtaken Craigslist.
What are junk listings? Well, these are shady listings, from sketchy online stores selling, $200 headphones for $55 (yeah, right):
Thankfully, these listings are easy to spot visually since they typically use stock images, while bonafide listings use photos taken with someone’s phone.
Still, you can instantly filter out most junk listings simply by filtering by “Local pickup.”
Just above that, you can set a radius for how far you’re willing to drive to meet the seller (I still recommend you meet somewhere public, ideally a police station).
Lastly, I actually don’t filter by “Used” since lots of folks list unopened gifts or good condition stuff as “New!”
3. Watch for signs of a scam
In five years of passionate deal-hunting on Facebook Marketplace, I’ve only been scammed once. The seller of an Xbox Series X told me she had received several offers, and wanted me to put down $25 to prove that I was a serious buyer before she met me.
Blinded by excitement, I Cash App’d her the $25. Then, surprise surprise, she blocked me.
Donning my dunce cap, I retroactively ran her profile through my scammer checklist. That is when I started to see the red flags:
Facebook Marketplace Scammer Checklist:
- Does the seller’s Facebook profile seem fake or incomplete?
- Does their Facebook profile have lots of random photos with almost zero outside engagement?
- Do they have 0 seller ratings?
- Did they refuse to give their general location, or say they’re from “out of town”?
- Was there something “off” about the way they communicate in Facebook Chat?
- Did the deal seem too good to be true?
- Did they ask for advance payment or a deposit?
Of course, she checked all of these boxes.
If a seller isn’t displaying red flags but you still feel that something’s off, test them using the following moves:
- Ask for more photos.
- Ask for more details regarding the item’s condition.
- Ask if they’d be willing to meet at a police station.
If they decline any three of these without good reason, run. Another deal will come along.
4. Ask sellers what else they have
Facebook Marketplace is a magnet for garage and estate sales – therefore, a seller may have only listed 5 or 6 of the 179 things they really want to sell.
First thing’s first: you can check a seller’s other published listings by simply clicking on their name within a listing:
If a seller has stuff related to what you want, go ahead and ask what they have!
For example, I noticed Speaker Lisa had lots of furniture for sale, so I asked if she had a TV stand. Yep!
Similarly, I love model cars, so I’ll often ask sellers, “Do you have other cars for sale besides these?”
Darrin, pictured in the screenshot above, sent back this when I asked him the same question:
“Hundreds,” he answered.
So, I scored a bushel of rare cars for pennies on the dollar.
Don’t be shy about asking sellers what else they have – you’ll be doing them a favor, saving them from a tedious half-day of making product listings!
5. Be patient and check back often
One “caveat” to Facebook Marketplace shopping is that amazing deals come and go quickly. I messaged “Speaker Lisa” when her listing was an hour old, and there was already a buyer ahead of me.
Therefore, it may take days or weeks of looking until a 10/10 deal pops up.
I also live in a city of six million; if you live in a smaller town, you may have to be even more patient (and set a wider search radius).
If you don’t find the deal you want today, just be patient. The good news is that deal-hunting on Facebook Marketplace becomes like a game: you never know what amazing deal is about to pop up, and scoring 90% off an espresso machine you’ve been coveting for months gives a high like no other.
6. Know how to break the ice
When opening a dialogue with a “merchant”, centuries of tradition would dictate that you:
- Put on your best poker face.
- Come in low, offering 50% of the asking price.
While this approach may work at yard sales, it gets you nowhere on Facebook Marketplace.
That’s because Facebook Marketplace is a seller’s market. Unlike on other sites, Facebook sellers don’t have to sell to the first interested buyer or even the highest bidder. Rather, they get to choose their buyer.
Usually, that’s the person who they think will be the easiest to deal with.
I telegraph to sellers that I’m easy to deal with by:
- Inquiring about whether or not the item is still available.
- Offering cash.
- Setting up a time.
All within two messages.
Here’s an example from the other night, in which I bought a $514 chrome luggage rack for my Miata for $50:
Just like that, sealed the deal. Happy seller, happy buyer. 90% off. So, break the ice simply by being kind, offering cash, and making a plan – all as expediently as possible.
7. Negotiate the right way
Since prices are already so low, I rarely negotiate on Facebook Marketplace. But when I do, I either give a good reason, offer convenience, or both.
Sometimes I’ll point out a missing part or component:
Other times, I simply offer to pick up the item ASAP. This works especially well on listings that are a few weeks old since sellers are usually more eager to get rid of the item by that point:
Anecdotally speaking, I’d say that I negotiate 25% of the time, and it works half of the time.
Like martial arts, finding deals on Facebook Marketplace requires patience, skill, and finesse. Learning these skills pays off, however, and is the best way to get nice things without paying nice thing prices.
Keep these tips in mind along the way, and you’re sure to make your Facebook Marketplace experience a positive one.