Facebook Marketplace and all its listings can feel like the wild west. However, it can be a treasure trove for those of us with a penchant for home decor and furnishings.
On my Instagram stories, I often take screenshots of chinoiserie home decor or unique furniture I come across on Facebook Marketplace categories, and my followers always have one question: “How did you find that? I look all the time and find nothing.” Challenge accepted!
The other night I was bored, and I offered to scour Facebook Marketplace for my favorite finds if people just sent over their city or zip code. I expected a couple of takers, but soon enough I had nearly FIFTY cities to look through.
And I adore my audience, so this was totally a good problem to have. I try to be helpful, friendly and prove that ANYONE can have a stylish home with one-of-a-kind finds with a little detective work.
As I thought about it more and more, it became super clear that I should write the comprehensive guide to buying and searching Facebook Marketplace categories for gorgeous home decor, furniture and the like.
The goal of this post is for you to:
- Confidently search Facebook Marketplace without having to endlessly scroll through listings by using keywords
- Learn tips to maximize your local results
- Navigate how to FAIRLY negotiate price
- Know the telltale sign that a listing is prime for negotiating
Facebook Marketplace Searches: Using the Right Keywords
You can’t find great decor and furniture if you aren’t searching for the right keywords. Now, I love chinoiserie, so some of my examples will be skewed that way.
While you totally can go straight to Facebook Marketplace and endlessly scroll listings, you’ll find there’s both a lot of crap you’re not interested in and a lot of ugly stuff to pilfer through.
Then you add in the advertisements for actual merchants in the mix, and it’s a bit of a cluster to filter out what you’re actually on the prowl for. This is why keywords are your BFF.
A simple keyword I search for often is “bamboo”, which often returns results for bamboo flooring, bamboo furniture, etc. I’m ok with keeping it broad on this search term because there’s likely not going to be hundreds of results in my area for this keyword.
I don’t suggest the same approach for a term like “furniture” because that’s too broad. What are you specifically looking for? A table? Dining table? End table? It’s about striking a balance between being able to narrow down results while not excluding listings that may be a good fit.
Here’s where you also have to get creative and realize that some sellers truly have no clue what they’re selling. So, put on your thinking cap and ask yourself, what might someone else call “bamboo”?
Rattan and wicker are often interchangeably used to mean bamboo on Facebook Marketplace. Think like a clueless seller.
Chinoiserie is a word that is likely NOT on someone’s radar where I live, and is likely true for your area, too. During my Instagram Stories exercise I mentioned earlier, I was focused on chinoiserie type decor because that’s what I’m known for on there.
- Ginger jar, temple jar, pagoda
- Campaign chest, baroque
- Bamboo, rattan
- Lucite, acrylic, brass or materials specific to what you’re looking for
- Blue and white, Greek key, Hollywood Regency
- Mid Century, Mid Century Modern, MCM
- Vintage, antique
- Tobacco leaf, rose medallion, famille rose (popular chinoiserie patterns)
- Blue Willow, Staffordshire, Spode, Churchill, Mottahedeh (popular brands)
- Porcelain, ceramic, China
If you love farmhouse rustic, your searches might include these keywords:
- Distressed, shabby chic, weathered, rustic, handmade, shiplap
- Farm, farmhouse, chalk paint
- Wood, wooden, white, gray, driftwood
- Kirklands, Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, Magnolia, Fixer Upper
Once you search a few times using good keywords, your searches and buying possibilities are greater because you can find stuff quicker and it’s stuff that is RELEVANT.
Pairing decor keywords like the ones above with regular household keywords (lamp, table, desk, console, dresser, chair, etc.) is also a good idea, but can result in fewer results, so try both to see what your area has.
Maximizing Local Results on Facebook Marketplace
Now, by default, Facebook Marketplace is going to search for relevant results in the city you live in based on your profile.
It’s up to you to expand that radius as much as you’d like to encompass more area around you. This part is all going to be personal preference AND knowledge of the surrounding neighborhoods, cities and towns near you.
Personally, I have mine set to Corpus Christi, TX plus 20 miles (note it’s 20 miles in all directions from the CITY not my house).
I know that 20 miles will include towns such as Portland, Rockport, Sinton, etc. that aren’t too terrible of a drive.
Facebook lets you set up to a 100 mile radius. If you’re able and interested in going further, I’d flat out just change the city in the search bar (ex: you live in San Antonio, TX and are willing to go Houston. The 100 miles won’t cover that radius, so just search in Houston).
I see some people on Instagram who will travel far distances for their treasures; I’m not one of those people. I hate driving, people are flaky, and I don’t want to waste time or gas to be disappointed.
On the other hand, if you live in the middle of nowhere or are in a city where you don’t have a car, you’re going to want to limit the radius.
A HUGE CAVEAT is that when you search for your keyword and the results come up, Facebook will show you the relevant listings for your area first, a few ads, and then you’ll see more results BUT THEY ARE NOWHERE NEAR YOU. I’ve gotten excited about an item only to see it’s in freakin’ Austin (about 175 miles away).
Bottom line, pay attention to your search results to make sure the item is located where you think it is and set your radius to what is comfortable and makes sense for you.
Negotiating Prices on Facebook Marketplace Items
I’m approaching this section as someone who has bought and sold stuff on this platform. I also approach this as someone who wants a good deal because she’s frugal, BUT someone who understands what items are worth and doesn’t want to insult sellers.
You’ve used keywords, you have your radius set and you find something you’ve gotta have. What now?
If the price is right as is, message the seller right away. Personally, I will always prioritize a person I don’t have to haggle with. Bonus points if you can pick it up within a day or so.
Most sellers, me included, do not want to hold stuff until payday, Friday, after church on Sunday, etc. We list, we want to sell it and move on.
If the price is just a smidge too high by about 15-20%: Make an offer that is reasonable! I was selling a white tulip dining table (the one seen above), for $125 with my end goal being $100. I was getting offers for $50 that I simply deleted.
You want the seller to consider your offer in earnest. For most sellers, we likely priced it higher knowing we’d negotiate. There’s also value in time– getting it out sooner rather than later may outweigh hoping another buyer comes along that wants to pay full price.
You may get a counter offer, to which you can counter again, but at some point you either agree or disagree on price and move on.
If the price is insanely high: Save the listing and give it a week. If the seller lowers the price in the meantime, you will be able to easily keep tabs on it in your saved items in Facebook Marketplace. If the seller doesn’t lower the price in a week, you can make an offer at that time since obviously no one else bought it either. I’d suggest knocking off 25% from the price and seeing what happens.
How do I know if the price is fair? This is a question I get asked a lot. It really is subjective. Some factors to consider are how rare the item is, how much demand there is in your area, how much you want it, how much it’d cost to paint/fix, how much it would cost you at a retail/antique shop, etc.
Google, Etsy, eBay and Chairish are good places to get ideas on how much an item is worth/selling for/its history.
I have a bit of thorough guide on tobacco leaf china if you’re interested.
Telltale Sign to Negotiate on Price
Now, I know I just talked about being fair, courteous, don’t insult sellers, etc. but sometimes sellers are simply unreasonable and need some time to come around.
You can use that to your advantage via information found on the listing itself.
Note, for this to be effective, both of these phrases must be in the listing:
- “Listed over a week ago in <city>”
- “Be the first to message”
This means the item has been up for seven days WITHOUT ANY INTEREST! Messages=interest. No one has shown any interest in this item at all. You’d be the first!
I recently had this scenario when searching for “bamboo” and came across some chinoiserie bamboo lanterns. Both of the phrases above were working in my favor, but I did some research before making an offer.
She had the pair listed for $50. They had the tags attached, and in my research I came to find out they were sold at Dillard’s for $99 each.
$50 was a totally fair price, but since no one else had shown any interest, I offered $40 (20% off the listing price). She accepted and she couldn’t have been nicer.
I like to say the answer is always no unless you ask, but always remember to be reasonable just like you expect the seller to be reasonable when they ponder your offer.
General Facebook Marketplace Tips
I hope you’ve learned a bit about my search strategies, keyword importance, thinking like a seller and navigating the negotiation process on Facebook Marketplace.
When agreeing to meet a seller to finish the transaction, take exact cash for the agreed upon price.
I’ve heard some buyers show up with a bit less cash at pick-up hoping the seller would let it slide. A lady did that to me once with a sofa purchase, and I was LIVID. This woman also didn’t come prepared with rope and we had to help her with that, too.
Don’t be a jerk. Imagine Pee Wee looking at you like this if you’re a jerk. JUST LOOK AT HIM.
Show up on time, and do not, for the love of all things holy, stand people up. If you have to reschedule, let them know well in advance.
Many police stations also have online purchase parking spots specifically for these types of transactions– this works for smaller items and not so much furniture, but it’s a good thing to look into!
If you’re picking up larger furniture items, assume the seller will NOT help you and take your own muscle to help load it up. Also take any straps, rope, tarps, etc. you need to get YOUR ITEM home safely. That’s on you; not the seller.
In a successful transaction on Facebook Marketplace, all parties should feel happy and satisfied. No one likes feeling taken advantage of.
Hope you found this very lengthy guide helpful! I’ll have similar ones on estate sale and antique store shopping up soon as part of this blog series. If you have a tip to share, drop it in the comments!
Wednesday 22nd of May 2019
Loved the tips. I have been frustrated with marketplace recently especially with the merchant ads but this really helped. I found a nightstand I wanted!
Tuesday 7th of May 2019
Bravo on this post!! You covered every aspect of buying on the marketplace. I'm addicted to that site now. I scored my son's dining glass tabletop from there (not sure if you read that post), some wooden drapery rings, and also scored some cool decor items and the sellers even shipped them (which I included in my price). Not all will ship but I do ask if it's more miles than I'm willing to drive. Between the marketplace, thrift stores and estate sales, I can't see how new stores are staying in business..lol! Great job on this post. You made it pretty easy and simple for all to enjoy the new shopping market.
Monday 6th of May 2019
YAYY!!! I've been waiting for this post. I don't know why I have never thought to use the search word BAMBOO before. Duh! Everyone here in Savannah is fancy, so I try to search using fancy words. :) And wow . . . I have never put together the Be the First To Message with how long the listing has been out there! In fact, I just made an offer for something on Marketplace, too, and had no idea to check that beforehand. *sigh* Oh well. Lesson learned, so thank you!
Monday 6th of May 2019
This was soo helpful, thank you! I particularly appreciate how you pointed out the social niceties requirement, something that is so often overlooked; if people would just remember to be courteous, the world would be a kinder place for sure.