A Field Guide to Facebook Yard Sale Groups

Selling stuff you don’t need is a simple way to make some extra cash, and the Internet has made it possible to skip the headache of holding a yard sale. But if you think your online options are limited to sites such as Craigslist and eBay, you might be overlooking an even easier option that you probably use every day: Facebook.

Facebook yard sale groups have grown from one small, little-known facet of the massive social-networking site to one of its major functions. Facebook has recognized this explosive growth, adding features that make it easier than ever to sell your stuff, including the ability to pay for an item immediately by sending money via Messenger.

I’ve personally turned to Facebook almost exclusively in the past few years to sell unwanted items. Buyers tend to be much more reliable than they are on Craigslist — perhaps because I know their name and anything else that’s publicly on their profile. In fact, I’ve realized that I’m selling to friends of friends on more than one occasion! And of course, selling locally means I don’t have to deal with the hassle of shipping items to an eBay buyer.

Finding a Facebook Yard Sale Group

It’s simple to find a sale group on Facebook. Go to the search box at the top of your screen and type in your city or area, plus a term such as “sale group,” “yard sale” or “buy sell trade.” A long list of options will probably appear. If not, broaden your geographical search. For instance, instead of using the name of your small town, search your county name or the nearest larger city.

You may also have a “sale groups” tab in your left-hand column that will give you a list of suggested groups and a map of where they’re based.

To join a group, click on the name. You’ll see a green “join group” button toward the top of the page. Once you click it, the button will show that your membership is pending. That’s because the group’s administrator will have to approve you. For a community-based sale group, this is typically a formality, but be patient: It may take a little time for the admin to OK your request.

Using a Facebook Resale Group: Eight Tips and Tricks

There is a bit of an art to Facebook sale groups, but if you’re willing to study up, you’ll vastly increase the chances that your items will quickly yield cash.

1. Read the rules.

Once you join a sale group, the very first thing you should do is read the rules. You’ll typically find these either in a pinned post at the top of the page or in the group description along the right. Rules will vary widely from page to page, but they’ll typically specify the following:

Buying/selling area: While you may be able to join a group for a city where you don’t live, it’s common for the rules to require you to deliver your item there.

Acceptable items: Some groups are general and allow just about everything; some are more specific (furniture, toys, clothing). Certain items, though they may seem to fit the group, may be excluded. I’ve seen page admins ban firearms (Facebook has recently banned them altogether), mattresses, baby formula, handmade items, and much more. They may also specify that an item must be in good or excellent used condition (“GUC” or “EUC”) with working batteries, no stains, and so forth.

Instructions for selling: Most groups will require you to post a current photo of the item you’re selling. That means you can’t simply find a stock photo online and use it; members need to see the item in its current condition. They may also specify that you describe it as fully as possible and name a price — for instance, no free items or asking for members to make an offer. Finally, many groups will prohibit you from listing a large “lot” of items, allowing only a certain number per post.

Instructions for buying: Again, rules will vary by group, but most groups will allow a potential buyer to post either “interested” or “sold” under an item. “Interested” is essentially a placeholder, giving you a certain amount of time to ask the seller questions, see whether your spouse likes the item, or do some research on the purchase. If you haven’t decided to buy the item within that time period, the seller can move on to the next person who posted.

Ban on self-promotion: Sale groups offer quick access to a potentially large audience, so admins often ban members from posting about their own businesses or services.

Once you’ve read the rules, make sure you follow them. While most admins understand honest mistakes, repeat offenders are usually removed from the group.

2. Take good photos.

This should be a given for anyone trying to sell anything, but I still see posts all the time with dark, grainy, blurry photos. Good, clear photos from multiple angles are often the difference between making a sale and seeing your item languish.

If possible, get a picture in natural light, which is less harsh. Try not to use flash. If needed, dust or wipe down your item, and move it away from other clutter. If you can, find a solid background that will help it “pop,” and be sure to get a close-up of any flaws so that potential buyers are clear about its condition.

3. Describe, describe, describe.

Good photos are most important, but a good description is a close second. Tell the buyer exactly what they’re looking at. If you’ve barely used the item, say so — maybe you’re only selling something that was the wrong size, or a gift that wasn’t your taste.

For furniture or other large objects, post dimensions. If there are any flaws, be specific. If you have a smoke-free, pet-free home, it’s worth noting — both are selling points, especially when it comes to furniture or clothing.

4. Set a fair price.

Before you list anything, scan your group for similar items. What are they being listed for? Is there any interest? While you don’t necessarily need to resort to rock-bottom, yard-sale prices, you still need to take into account two main factors: demand and condition.

I recently sold a desk and matching bench for $50 just minutes after I listed them. In fact, there were multiple people interested. Why the quick response? The piece was relatively modern, with clean lines, which typically fetches a premium. But my young children had scratched and damaged the finish, so I knew whoever bought it would likely have to sand and paint it. Had it been in better shape, I’m probably could have listed it for double the price.

5. Look for more-specific groups.

You’ll probably have much better luck selling an item if you can find a group that’s as narrowly tailored as possible — it helps to make sure you’re reaching members that are more interested in buying.

For instance, I sold my sons’ old crib on a resale group specifically for children’s furniture and gear. Though the group has fewer members than some of the other, more general groups I’m in, the people there are specifically interested in baby-related items.

Also note that there are some groups with more of a focus on pricing and quality: “yard sale groups,” “upscale groups” and everything in between. Don’t try to sell your Louis Vuitton purse on a yard-sale group, and don’t list your kid’s ratty onesies on an upscale group. You won’t get the buyer you’re looking for, and worse, you could be removed from the group.

6. Be clear — and safe — about meetups and payment.

Pick a convenient public place to meet buyers. I typically meet with people at a big-box store near my house — since it’s close by, I don’t have to spend a lot of time and gas money driving to meet a buyer. I also tell potential buyers where I meet in my listings so it’s not up for negotiation.

If a buyer needs to come to your house for a larger item, try to make sure you aren’t home alone. Also, don’t put your address, phone number, or any other personal details in the item’s listing where everyone can see it — wait until you are arranging final details with the buyer.

As for payment, cash is king. I re-confirm the sale price with the buyer before a meetup so there isn’t any confusion. I also try to have a little change on me. (Most buyers don’t expect this, but every once in awhile, someone will show up with a two $20 bills for a $30 item.)

7. Don’t start (or feed) drama.

I’ve seen more than my fair share of drama on Facebook sale groups. Typically, this stems from 1) a seller not following the group’s rules when there are multiple potential buyers or 2) a buyer not showing up after agreeing to meet a seller.

The best way to handle these scenarios is to contact a group admin about the situation. He or she can then contact the member or remove them from the group.

Do not write a long, angry post for all group members to see. These posts tend to take on a life of their own as other members pile on and rubberneck to see whether the accused will chime in and defend themselves. But they certainly don’t solve anything, and some admins will ban members who start them — regardless of who’s at fault.

8. Be the seller you would want to buy from.

Don’t make your buyer jump through too many hoops to get your item. Respond swiftly to comments and messages, and try to be flexible (within reason) when you’re setting a time to meet. Above all else, be honest about the condition of your item with a thorough description and clear photos.

When you’re a good seller, you may even find you get repeat customers. I’ve sold to the same people more than a few times because they know I have quality, well-priced items and they appreciate a smooth transaction.

Starting Your Own Facebook Sale Group

You may live in an area without a lot of Facebook sale groups, or maybe you want one for a particular niche. It’s fairly easy to start your own:

  1. Go to “groups” on the left-hand side of your screen. There will be a “Create New Group” button toward the top of the page.
  2. In the window that pops up, name your group and add members. You have to add at least one friend to start out.
  3. You’ll also need to choose a privacy setting: Public, closed, or secret. You probably won’t want to create a secret group, because that means people won’t be able to see your group or join unless they’re specifically invited by a member. With a closed group, anyone can join but you’ll have to approve them; with a public group, they won’t need approval. Also note that only members will be able to see posts in closed groups, whereas non-members can see posts in public groups.
  4. Once your group is created, you’ll need to tinker with the settings by clicking on the three dots at the top right. That will give you the option to “Edit Group Settings.” You can pick the group type (“Buy, Sell, Trade”), which will add buying/selling functions to posts, like a spot to specify the price of an item.
  5. Remember to set clear rules about the kinds of items allowed, the geographical area for buying and selling, and instructions on how buyers and sellers should proceed. Look at some of the larger groups in your area for inspiration.
  6. Promote your Facebook sale group by inviting friends. You may also be able to post a link in other sale groups, as long as it’s OK with the admin.

Remember, Safety is Key When You Sell Online

Facebook sale groups are a low-hassle way to sell your stuff, but don’t let knowing a little more about your buyer lull you into a false sense of security.

You should still meet in public whenever possible; if that’s not an option, never set up a meeting with a buyer when you’re home alone.

Never post personal details — wait until you’re making final arrangements with a buyer, and only tell them the bare minimum needed to complete the transaction.

And always trust your gut — if something seems “off,” or the buyer just seems kind of flaky, move on.

For more tips on selling items online, check out some of The Simple Dollar’s previous articles:

Saundra Latham

Contributing Writer

Saundra Latham is a personal finance writer and editor. Her work has appeared in The Simple Dollar, Business Insider, USA Today, The Motley Fool, Livestrong and elsewhere.