Tips for using buy and sell sites
Man and woman on the floor with a laptop open

Buy and sell sites (and apps) are a great way to find deals on many things from books to appliances.

Whatever you’re looking for, here are some tips to ensure a safe and successful shopping experience. 

  1. Simplify the search. Life is complicated, but finding your next purchase shouldn’t be. Many buy and sell sites offer useful tools to help you find just what you’re looking for.
    • Explore the categories. Items on these sites are typically categorized from general to specific within multiple categories. Once you find the right category or subcategory, you can further narrow the search by brand, price, or location.
    • Choose the right keywords. Using a general search is a good place to start, but you’ll want to get specific to find the right item that suits your home and needs. For example, instead of searching “dining tables” try “4-person, dining table with chairs”. Using these specific keywords can help uncover listings that may have not show up in a general search.
  2. Consider Timing and Location. When and where you buy can impact the price of the item.
    • Where is the item located? Considering where an item is located before buying can help save you a lot of time and money, or even help you find what you’re looking for. Don’t hesitate to look outside your city, as increasing the search area can return many more results. If possible, arrange to meet the seller at a convenient public location instead of going to their home. 
    • Timing is important! Items on buy-sell sites are typically first-come first-serve. Some sites offer an alert function that keeps you updated on the most recent postings. However, to find that “hidden gem”, you might have to dig a little bit deeper and navigate through older listings. Don’t worry though, since you can choose to display listings from old to new.

    Tip: When it comes to price, seasonal items have more negotiating room at the end of season. If you know you’re replacing your patio set next year, start your hunt at the end of summer. 

  3. Transparency is key. The more information you have the better purchase decision you can make. 
    • Read up on what you’re buying. Do a little research before hitting the classifieds so you know what to lookout for and how to negotiate for that item. Having an idea of the price that similar items are going for and what the item costs brand new, can also help with your negotiations. Before going to see the item in person, ask for detailed photos from the seller if not already provided. This can help save you a lot of time and disappointment if its not what you expect. 
    • Compare your options. Using a spreadsheet or notepad is a great way to organize the choices on the market. Jotting down different characteristics of the items, your experience with the sellers and how you felt overall can help provide transparency when it comes time to make a final purchase decision. 
  4. Look for Credibility. Depending on what you’re buying, authenticity of the seller and item might be important to your purchase decision.
    • Vet the seller. This is good way to make sure you’re getting what you pay for. If something seems too good to be true, it might just be. You’ll want to consider if the seller is being upfront and honest about the condition and history of the item, and ask if they have the original documents. If available, you may even be able to see seller ratings and history.
    • Look for an appraisal or certificate of authenticity. When shopping for big ticket items, like jewellery, artwork, or designer purchases make sure the seller has the appropriate licenses and certificates of authenticity. Having an appraisal done can also uncover the actual value of an item, which is important to know in case you have to make a claim.

    Heads up: Without an appraisal, receipt or photos of the item, filing a claim may be more difficult, and your insurer will use online comparables to determine a fair value.

    Tip: Some things you’re better off not buying used. We recommend passing on e-tickets, downloadable software, mattresses, used safety equipment and personal items.  

  5. Remain open-minded. Patience will serve as a virtue throughout the whole buying process. If what you’re looking for isn’t available at the moment, take some time and be flexible with your options. Don’t be afraid to cross-shop websites either since certain listings may only be posted exclusively on other websites. 

Once you’ve found that perfect item, be sure to check your policy to make sure it’s covered. With personal belongings coverage, some items have limits on how much you can claim. If you have an item that’s worth a lot consider upgrading your personal belongings limit or adding extra coverage just for that item. Learn more about how to look after your most expensive stuff.

Start saving on your insurance.