Decor & Styling

7 Shopping Secrets That Help Me Find the Best Items on Facebook Marketplace

written by SARAH LYON
Source: @sarahlyon9 | Photo by
Source: @sarahlyon9 | Photo by

I can’t even begin to list all the fabulous pieces I’ve scored on Facebook Marketplace over the years. I’ve picked up stunning fireplace mantels (yes, multiple), a newly upholstered accent chair for just $100, tons of beautiful artwork, kitchen essentials, and so much more. People always ask me about my secrets to winning big on Facebook Marketplace, and in my view, there are several key tips to keep in mind. Read on for the insider techniques that I swear by, and then get shopping—I promise you’re in great hands!

1. Check Facebook Marketplace often

Seriously, do it! Inventory changes all the time, and you don’t want to miss out on an amazing piece simply because you didn’t refresh Facebook Marketplace for a few days. Since the Facebook app is so simple to navigate on your phone, it’s easy to scroll through while on the go, too. I browse Marketplace listings while in line at the grocery store, sitting in an Uber, or just when I need a brain break during the work day (after all, swooning over furniture never fails to make me feel better). Pre-pandemic, I often found that weekends were the best time to explore listings. However, now that so many people are working remotely and spending more time redecorating their homes, it’s always an opportune time to take a peek at what’s for sale.

Source: @sarahlyon9 | Photo by @laurenzill

3. Use search terms strategically

Typing in general search terms like “dresser,” “area rug,” or “wall art” will certainly yield results. But getting more specific with your searches can help you find exactly what you’re looking for (and avoid scrolling endlessly through junk). Think through how you would describe your decorating style, then use those keywords within your searches. Phrases like “mid-century modern,” “French country,” or “boho” will serve up results tailored to your style. Including the type of material you’re looking for can also hone your search—get specific with words like solid wood, velvet, marble, leather, or brass. Or try searching for a specific brand you love, such as West Elm, Pottery Barn, or Anthropologie.

Also, keep in mind that some sellers don’t quite know what they have. For example, a seller might list a beautiful secretary desk under “desk” or even “vanity,” so it’s worth keeping things general or trying a few different variations of the same search term. Additionally, when an item is labeled with its proper name and brand, that often means a seller does know what they have, and the price will likely be a bit higher. Think: “Jonathan Adler lucite coffee table” versus something along the lines of “clear table.” Do some research into the item’s original price to see if you’re getting a good deal.

4. Teach the algorithm what you like

If you’re looking for something specific, search terms are great. However, some of my best finds have simply popped up at the top of my Marketplace page, thanks to the algorithm’s understanding of my design preferences. Of course, it will take some time for the algorithm to do its thing and populate the best pieces for your space. In the meantime, running searches will help. Saving items that appeal to you (even if you have no intention of making an offer) will also influence the algorithm.

5. Increase your search radius

The easiest way to see more, better-quality Facebook Marketplace items is to increase the radius you’re searching in. The options might be slim within a 20-mile radius of where you live, but if you increase that distance a bit, you might just come across a gem you wouldn’t otherwise have seen. When you find that perfect item you’ve been searching for, having a drive a bit to go pick it up will be totally worth it.

Source: @sarahlyon9 | Photo by @weston.mosburg

6. Message sellers promptly and politely

Who knows, sellers could receive dozens of messages if their item is ultra-popular or listed far below market value. To ensure you have a fair shot at scoring that dream piece, fire off a quick note right away. Be polite and use proper grammar and spelling, but don’t write more than a sentence or two. For example, start with a simple message like, “Hello! I love this dresser and could pick it up later today if it’s still available.” It’s friendly, succinct, and conveys interest. Plus, it demonstrates that you can grab the item ASAP (which, as we all know from our own moves and closet clean-outs, is always optimal).

Note that just because you message a seller and get a reply, that doesn’t mean you’re tied to the purchase. Before you commit, confirm the item’s measurements and ask for a few additional photos of the item if you want a closer look. If you live in a city without a car or have a complicated schedule, you can also ask whether the seller is willing to deliver it to your place for a small fee. I’ve found that many people will agree to this!

If at any point you change your mind or feel iffy about an item’s condition, it’s OK to politely back out. Simply say something like, “Actually, after thinking about this piece a bit more, I don’t think it’s the best option for my space. Best of luck selling!” Once again, being communicative and polite is key. As long as you don’t leave a seller hanging about where you stand (particularly if they’re receiving other messages and offers), they’ll be appreciative.

7. Don’t expect yard sale pricing

For a happier Facebook Marketplace experience, don’t go into your search expecting yard sale prices. Sure, I’ve managed to score some great $20-30 pieces over the years, but this is pretty rare. Rather, my best finds have been pieces that weren’t dirt-cheap but were still majorly discounted from their retail price. For example, I snagged a gorgeous West Elm bar cart (that normally goes for $500) at nearly an 85 percent discount—yep, I paid $80! While $80 would be a lot to spend on a furniture piece at a yard sale, it’s a steal when you consider the retail price. The $80-200 range is a pretty common price point on Marketplace, so keep that in mind as you browse!

Ready to get started? The best thing you can do is browse, browse, browse, so get going. You might just end up like me, with multiple Facebook Marketplace pieces in every room and you still can’t get enough!