9 Tips for Finding Great Deals on Facebook Marketplace, According to Experts

published Mar 12, 2022
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Photo: Shutterstock; Design: Apartment Therapy

Furnishing a space, whether you like modern decor or prefer a more maximalist approach, is a big endeavor — and it can really add up fast, cash-wise. Perhaps you’re looking for a more sustainable method and opting for secondhand, versus waiting out supply chain delays and buying new. Whatever you’re looking for, Facebook Marketplace may be just the spot to make your decor dreams come true.

Online selling platforms like Craigslist, eBay, and local auction or estate sale sites have made treasure hunting or furniture shopping more fun, and often less stressful on your bank balance, but none have the algorithmic advantage of Facebook Marketplace. Marketplace has steadily become more and more popular, with everything from art, to baby gear, to kitchen tables just a few taps away. 

If you haven’t perused the platform yet or are looking to up your search game, these tips from expert shoppers will help you find the pieces that speak to you as you master the ins and outs of Marketplace. 

Browse frequently.

Marketplace is a fast-moving environment, with new items being added practically around the clock. The more you search, the better your algorithm gets. “Facebook has a great layout,” says Eva Johnson, owner of Grandpa’s Pool House, a kitschy-cool vacation rental house she furnished almost entirely from Marketplace. “Once you start searching, the algorithm will keep sending you [more of] what you’re searching for.” 

Have a vehicle handy.

There’s nothing worse than finding your dream dresser and not having a way to pick it up. If your car isn’t large enough or you don’t drive, do some pre-work and identify a friend with a truck you can borrow or learn the ins and outs of U-Haul truck rentals. “I learned off the bat that I’d need a vehicle big enough to haul things,” says Johnson. “You’re going to miss out on so much! If you’re trying to get the good items, you need a big vehicle.”

Manage your expectations.

Because Facebook Marketplace is relatively new on the selling scene and widely used by everyone from regular folks to vintage stores, you may experience some ups and downs on the hunt, and it’s best to remember that Marketplace isn’t an antique store or a trip to Target. “Remember: It’s the wild west out there,” says Jessie Witte, owner of Audrey Rose Vintage. “Because it is a newer selling platform, there aren’t these unspoken rules like you’d see with Craigslist and the like. There is no one way people are doing things, like holds, money transactions, descriptions, and pictures. People will ghost you, never respond, or tell you one thing and do another.”

Develop an eye for quality and aesthetic. 

If you’re looking for antique or vintage pieces, it’s worth doing your research on quality so you know what you’re buying is worth the price tag. “When you know what the good stuff is, you’re able to see through poorly lit pictures and vague descriptions,” says Liz Gillen, who estimates 50 to 75 percent of her furniture is from Facebook Marketplace. “Some of this is wisdom that comes with time, and some of it happens when you broaden your horizons and do your research. Read design books, flip through old Architectural Digest issues, and follow a wide range of designers and artists on social media.”

Witte agrees, especially when it comes to sellers using popular terms like “mid-century modern” to list their new items. “Do your research. Look up the seller and their ratings. As far as I know, there are no watchdogs to curb people advertising pieces incorrectly,” she explains. If you’re looking for a certain era of furniture or decor and want to ensure authenticity, you can also join a specific Facebook group in your region devoted to that period or style. Witte’s best authentic find?  “A two-piece wood and turquoise vinyl curved vintage bar with four matching chairs.”

Inquire and respond quickly.

If you want first dibs on an item, get moving! “There’s often not much time to mull things over — good vintage and quality items go fast,” says Gillen. Be prepared and ready to pick up and pay. “If you cannot pick up right away, consider offering to Venmo or PayPal a deposit to hold. For items I really want, I’ll even offer to pay a little more for a seller to hold as a courtesy,” she says. “If you have questions, I suggest asking after arranging a pickup time so the seller knows you are a serious buyer.” Gillen stresses remembering that a seller “doesn’t owe you anything until you’ve paid them,” so if you really want an item, stay on top of communication so you don’t lose your place in line. 

If the item you’re eyeing has a list of interested buyers, adding a personal touch to your message can help you gain the advantage. “If there’s going to be a high demand, I say what I love about it and a plan to pick up,” shares Johnson. “If they have eight messages and one person says, ‘I’ll be there at 2 p.m. today and this is my plan,’ [people appreciate that].” 

Keep an open mind. 

“I would love to give the advice of staying hyper-focused in your searches, but some of the best things I’ve found were things I wasn’t currently looking for, or are slightly different than what I was hoping to find,” says Gillen. “Great design is flexible, in my opinion.” Maybe you were looking for Hollywood Regency but found a Victorian piece you can’t live without. Roll with it! Buy what you love. 

Credit: Getty Images/ Justin Lambert

Don’t be afraid to ask if they have more items for sale.

“When you go into a house, a lot of times it’s people moving,” says Johnson. “Often they’re selling other stuff, and one thing can lead to more gems.” If the person you’re buying from appears to be prepping for a garage or estate sale, there’s no harm in asking them if they have anything else they’re willing to let go.

Give items a thorough once-over when you pick up.

It’s worth going the extra mile to make sure you’re getting what you paid for, so give furniture items a good look: Check drawers, test stability, and look for any obvious flaws that weren’t mentioned. “One very weird thing I learned when buying cool furniture is to take a white glove and wipe your hand across the material to see if anything is left behind, like dye,” shares Witte. “I bought a pair of orange vintage swivel bucket chairs that were clearly dyed, but I only found out when I got home and sat down in them wearing a white shirt!” 

A little elbow grease can go a long way.

If an item you’re looking at needs some TLC, don’t cast it aside without considering potential repairs. Could a bit of sanding and paint bring it back to life? Could you take it to a pro for an inexpensive, realistic repair? “Don’t let a few scratches scare you! The ‘good stuff’ can be repaired or restored,” says Gillen.

Once you’ve hauled your treasures home, give them a good cleaning. “If the piece is clothing, I would freeze it for two weeks,” Witte recommends. “This kills pests like hidden moth eggs.” For furniture, vacuum it thoroughly, polish wood with a soft cloth and cleaner, or use a carpet cleaner on sofas or upholstered chairs. (Just make sure to do your research re: specific fabrics and finishes.) “For home decor and houseware, I recommend a good soapy bath,” she says. And voilà! Your home just got so much cooler.