Wednesday, October 26, 2016

How to price an iPad to sell on Craig’s list

In a recent post, I referenced that I had recently purchased an iPad Air 2 through Craig’s list and was hoping to sell my iPad 4 for around the same amount.  I probably was a little over optimistic in my pricing.  In the end the “upgrade” cost me about $30 which I feel was still extremely worthwhile.  The strategies used in this post can be used to help price many other electronics as well.


For most sellers on Craig’s list, the starting point in pricing is (surprise), Craig’s list.  At minimum, you should run a search to see what others are pricing the same or similar products.  There are a couple of things that should be kept in mind when using this approach.  First, Craig’s list is a common venue for scammers.  If you spot an ad for any electronic device that appears unusually cheap and the seller asks you to respond to directly to their email address (often gmail) you should consider the ad bogus and not use this offering price in establishing the value of your device.  Second, there are some who are routine sellers on Craig’s list and may or may not be as motivated as you to sell.  Craig’s list etiquette is that once you sell your item, you remove your ad.  Posted ads are supposed to represent items that are unsold.  Thus, Craig’s list is somewhat skewed toward “asking” price but may not reflect the actual selling price.  There is some risk to Craig’s list.  To make it worth the risk, buyers want to be assured that they are getting their money’s worth and this often means wanting to get a better deal than they can find elsewhere.  In my case, I spotted that another seller was offering the same model iPad for $200.  In reading through the ads, I could easily see that the seller was frequent seller on Craig’s list having multiple other listings.  Knowing this, I was somewhat reassured that $200 was in the ballpark, but also aware that this seller may be more willing to “wait” for his price. A third notation I will make in regards to Craig’s list is that by design Craig’s list is targeted to a local market which may vary slightly than prices bring either nationally or internationally.  You may find some local markets that are saturated with used devices OR vice versa where there is high local demand.

A second resource to aid in pricing in Gazelle.  Gazelle is an online buyer and seller of a wide range of electronic devices.  I have used Gazelle and would recommend them for anyone who wants to buy or sell a device that they handle without the risks inherent with Craig’s list (e.g. “as is” sales, dealing with strangers, etc.)  In this case I examined what Gazelle would pay for my iPad 4 which was $80 and also examined what they price they would sell an iPad 4.  On this particular day, Gazelle did not offer an iPad 4 so I examined the next closest model which was an iPad 3 that they were offering at $199.  Thus, I would guess that if they had one available, Gazelle would likely sell an iPad 4 around $220 or so.  As with Craig’s list this information must be place in perspective.  First, Gazelle is taking some risk out of the equation for buyers and providing a basic guarantee that you aren’t going to be buying an iCloud locked device or a broken device.  Simply stated, if an iPad with a guarantee (regardless of how basic) is worth more than the same device without a guarantee.  Thus, if selling “as is” on Craig’s list, your price should be less than a price offered by Gazelle for the same object.  I’ll note that my iPad did include case, but realistically used cases do not have much extra value.

A third resource to aid in setting a selling price is eBay.  It costs nothing to open an account with eBay and I would recommend that you do.  In addition to searching the current listings, those with an account can also filter their searches to find completed auctions.  Completed auctions include both sold and unsold.  This is a quick way to spot indicators that a certain price is too high (item didn’t sell) and also to see at what prices items did sell.  You are also able to search eBay for sold items only which will provide a focus on selling prices.  There is a wide range of sellers on eBay; some provide some degree of guarantee, many don’t.  One thing to keep in mind in regards to eBay is that for the most part, buyers on eBay are bargain hunters; they are shopping on eBay because they think they may get a better price than anywhere else.  As a result, I would recommend pricing an item on Craig’s list a little higher than the frequently observed mean price on eBay.

…and now the reveal… As previously noted, I was likely a little over-optimistic in regards to my asking price.  I originally listed my iPad 4 at $205 and the response was flat – nothing, not even bargain hunters offering to pay $50 for it.  Thereafter, I dropped it to $175 and then dropped again to $165 and sold it at $160.  Sure, I’d like to have gotten a little more, but prices for used electronics can drop very quickly so sometimes the proverbial “bird in the hand” is worth more than hoping for more in the future.

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