How To Buy A Phone On Craigslist For Less Than Market Value

If you’re buying a new or used cell phone for your personal needs or are interested in flipping phones for a profit, you still have the same goal. Find a phone that is in excellent condition and get a great deal on it. To accomplish that goal, it helps to understand the sellers’ objectives.

Craigslist seller wants:

  • Sell it fast
  • Cash transaction
  • Get top dollar

Well two of the three match with the buyer. However, the seller’s desire to get top dollar conflicts with you as the buyer. This is why there is always negotiation, which can slow down the process. BUT, what if you as the buyer could determine what qualifies as top dollar.

Craigslist Buyer

Do Your Research

Most sellers on Craigslist don’t use any tools to determine exactly what their phone is worth. They have a general idea, but won’t be confident of what their phone is worth. This works in your favor if you’ve already done your homework.

First determine what the fair market price for the phone you want to buy is, using Movaluate, Ebay, or Swappa. It doesn’t hurt to use all three in your research.

As a buyer, I want to get a deal below fair market value. Figure out what you want to pay. I personally set a goal of between $50 and $100 under fair market value, depending on the type of phone.

The Secret Sauce

Find a phone that has a good description, pictures, and meets your requirements.

Here is the secret that is going to help you change the market price. Use an alternative e-mail address from your main account, you can make new email addresses in 30 seconds on Yahoo and Google. Write-up a detailed email that meets the first two seller goals. Let me know you can pay cash and will pick it up immediately. Make sure to have good grammar and spelling. Let the buyer know the price you are willing to pay. This number should be $125 under market value. Send the email.

Wait at least 10 minutes from the email you just sent. Now, do the same thing again except with a second alternative email address. Change up the style of writing you used in the first email but write basically the same thing. This time offer $130 under market value. Send the email.

Wait another 10 minutes. This time use your real email address and send an inquiry to the seller. Make sure this one counts, and write the email better than the other two. This time offer exactly $100 below market price. Send the email.

Wait another 10 minutes. Use a third alternative email address and write a new email worded differently, and offer $120 under market value. Send the email.

See what you’ve done here? You just fabricated the top dollar market price. The seller doesn’t know that the same person is behind all four email addresses. Monitor all four email accounts and respond accordingly to the seller so they know you are a real and interested buyer.

Change The Market Value

Here is a quick example of the numbers:

I want to buy a used Nexus 5 32GB which is currently worth $275.

I search on Craigslist and find a good listing for the phone at a price of $270.

I send first email offering $150.

I send second email offering $145.

I send third email from my real email address offering $175.

I send fourth email offering $155.

Craigslist Nexus 5

Now, I can guarantee many people will tell you that this won’t work because there will be other higher offers. They are partly right, this is true because this is not going to work every single time. However, if you try this on a few sellers, it will work. Don’t forget, many sellers on Craigslist are everyday consumers that just want to sell their previous phone for whatever they can get after upgrading to a new model at their wireless store. At the very least it puts you in a better position to negotiate on the price. If you really want to execute well on this, here are a few tips:


  1. Act on new listings. You want to beat out the other buyers. Your chances of this working are slimmer if you try this on a phone that has been listed for 3 days already.
  2. Use this techniques during multiple times of the day. You might have your best luck during work hours on a weekday, as most of the other buyers are too busy to dig through Craigslist. I recommend setting up a daily routine at least 3 times a day (morning, noon, night) to check all the new listings. Patience is a virtue.
  3. Contacting the seller is potentially the most crucial moment of the entire sale process, as first impressions are everything. Sound legit in every email you send, and don’t forget to differentiate your wording.
  4. For a seller, Craigslist is best in a dense city with a higher population. However if you are a buyer, you will have more luck with this technique in a city with a low population.
  5. $100 under market value may not be the best number to use for a particular phone. In fact, you’ll have much more success with $50 under market value. If you are buying a phone for your personal use, $50 sounds great. However, if you’re flipping phones as a business, then $100 may be best value for your time.

Don’t feel bad about getting a great deal. After all, it’s the seller’s responsibility to research what their product is worth. Do your research and come out on top. Don’t forget, you can do this with anything on Craigslist including any other mobile devices such as tablets.



Enter your email address to receive updates (It's Free!)

Speak Your Mind