The Cape Point Chronicle Guide to Selling Your Stuff on Gumtree

In the past couple of weeks we have been going through a consolidation of household goods at Cape Point Chronicle HQ. Through my Father-in-law selling his house in Durban and sending his house contents to us we had a lot of stuff to get rid of if we wanted to get into our house.

We sold some items at Cash Crusaders in Long Beach Mall- namely a gas heater and a humidifier- but that is a place where you have to understand that they need to buy it from you in a way that leaves them some room to make a profit when (if) they resell it. This means that if it is an item that they are interested in (no guarantees they will be) you will get significantly less for your stuff than you may be looking for.

By far our favourite way to sell unwanted stuff is through Gumtree- a free online classified service. It is a little bit of a work up but you can get a decent price for your stuff and if you are willing to be flexible and a little patient you are likely to find a buyer for just about anything.

Its also incredibly easy to set up an ad, you don’t even need to register, just use an email address to post the ad, though I will say that having an account (which is free) makes things easier, and so far Gumtree seem to be very light on sending out email marketing messages (here is a tip for you if you feel that registering your email address will lead to an increase in spam email. I have definitely seen an increase in spam after giving my email details to certain companies so here is a way to see if they do that. Set up a free Gmail email account to use just for registering for things with- you can always set up your email admin program- such as Outlook- to use the account through. Gmail allows you to use aliases and still receive your emails to the account. You do this by putting a ‘+’ sign in the address, for example This is great because you can put an alias for every account you sign up for- eg if you registered with Woolies. All mail from Woolies would still be received but you would know it was from them. If they shared your email address, even if you didn’t want them to any emails received from the new company would still be through the ‘Woolworths’ alias and so you would know who the culprit was- busted.)

It is incredibly important that you tell the truth on Gumtree. You can emphasize the good bits but if your item has some wear on it do not say that it is in pristine condition. You are selling second hand goods, so people are expecting a little wear and tear, and your price should reflect the condition. So if you are selling something that has been ‘well used’ your price will be much lower than if it is in mint condition- the target buyers are very different and the expectations in line with that.

Give lots of details and use good quality images that show the item from multiple angles. If your item has labels detailing technical aspects of it, try and get an image of those too. Although image quality is important you also need to bear in mind that you have to upload them, huge images will be rejected for being too big, and if they just qualify they may take a while to upload. The best way is to think that no one is likely to need to print out the images on a poster so if the image is larger than your screen it is just a waste.

When taking pictures, make sure that the item is clean, well lit and not surround by a lot of other things.

The wording is important, but make sure that your ad does not sound too slick, if it does people may think that they are buying from a dealer, or someone that they cannot trust. State the facts and the good features and make sure to mention anything that someone is going to find out the second they see it.

This may sound basic, and kind of silly, but make sure that your contact details are correct before you post the ad. I have made this mistake before and it is deeply embarrassing and frustrating when you realize what you have done. Buyers seem to prefer mobile numbers, but I always like to include a land line in case the enquirer wants to save some bucks. You will get some email enquiries but it is a slow form of communication.

Once the ad is posted sit back and wait for the phone to start ringing. How quickly and how often will depend on what you are selling and how much for. You should be a little concerned if the extremes happen- a melting phone may mean that you under priced (which is ok if you need a quick sale) and nothing at all may either mean your price is too high, or there is no demand for what you are selling. After a few days of no response you may consider dropping the price.

Some categories on Gumtree have a lot of items posted on them and the newest ad is displayed first on the list, so as more ads are placed your ad will drop down the list. This can happen with minutes in some categories. You can pay a small fee to bump your ad back to the top of the page, or you can cancel your ad and repost it manually. If you do the latter it is a good idea to copy the ad’s text to a word document before deleting it. You shouldn’t worry too much about your ad being on page four in a busy category, interested buyers will view deeply into the ads.

So you are getting a large response and naturally potential buyers want to see the item. Now you have to be a bit savvy and street smart. Unfortunately there a lot of unscrupulous people out there. Gumtree’s own web site has some guidelines on how to transact safely and it is worth reading them. Basically, never meet any potential buyer in a car park or anywhere like that. It may seem strange to be allowing people into your home, but it is better than going somewhere else. You really need to make the call as to whether you want to have a potential buyer in your home, if it doesn’t feel right then fob them off, remember, you are in control of this process.

Never allow the buyers to control the process. You will get people phoning up saying that they are interested but cannot make it for what ever reason, can you keep it for them. Forget that, nine times out of ten you will never hear from them again, in the meantime you have turned away people who might have bought the item. Never ever do favours for buyers, you will lose out. Have a strict ‘first to put the money in my hand’ policy. If you have someone who says they are on the way to see you then inform anyone else who phones what is happening and you will phone them back if the person doesn’t buy. It wouldn’t be fair for them to arrive only to find that you have sold the item, but only ever do this if they are already on the road, its just courtesy.

It’s always fun to show people your stuff, and I find a bit of a haggle is good. Always give yourself some wiggle room to allow you to drop down a bit. Again, be in control of that process. You will hear all kinds of sob stories, tough, stay firm and don’t be scared of the buyer walking away, you will feel a little bad if they have driven a long way, but that is there problem (and why you need to be honest in the ad- if someone comes a hundred k’s to see a pristine sofa that is actually falling to bits they may feel a bit peeved, but if your ad was truthful about the condition then they don’t have a leg to stand on).


Never let the goods go without the cash being in your hands first (and count it properly, even if that feels a bit rude). On big items you may need to accept payments via eft, if that is the case then you must ensure that the transfer is genuine and that payment has been received before the item leaves your possession. You have no come back if it doesn’t.

One thing that you will encounter eventually is a savvy dealer who is looking to buy goods to sell on. This is especially going to happen if you are selling furniture. I recently ran into this when selling a bed. A phoned and came almost as soon as the ad was placed. Even on the phone he was trying to tell me how much the bed was actually worth (about half of what I was asking, which wasn’t much in the first place). When he arrived I got every story under the sun about it being the wrong type of bed, that the ad was misleading, basically trying to make me feel bad, realize the error of my ways and sell the bed for what it was ‘really worth’. He then hit me with the ultimate weapon, the ‘But I’ve driven all the way from…’ line. “That’s your problem not mine.” He even at one point told me that I should not be selling for more that what he said it was worth so I told him to go buy one somewhere else because I wasn’t selling mine for that. Two hours later I sold the bed to a lovely couple who were looking for a double bed for the spare room and were ecstatic to do so at such a great price.

Gumtree truly is a fast, easy way to sell your excess stuff, either to make space or because you want the money for something else. I love it and really enjoy the process, and it is kind of nice to know that your stuff is going to a good use.

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