During the past few months, I’ve been scouring Craigslist and other online classifies in search of the perfect van to be my converted Adventure Van. It was a long process, but I finally grabbed the van I wanted: A 1998 Astro Cargo Van
Since it was such a pain, I wanted to show you guys some of the techniques I used when searching the van and RV ads and dealing with sellers and scammers. Here are my Craigslist buying tips.
Update 3/2015 – Bonus Tip – Burner AppHey there. I wanted to add a bonus tip that I use quite often when both buying and selling on Craigslist. One thing I don’t like to do is put my phone number on an ad I list or call a random phone number from craigslist using my cell phone. To protect my phone number, I use an iPhone/Android app called Burner.
Burner basically gives you a disposable number you can use in the ad you place or when calling on an ad. You pay a couple bucks to use the number for calls and texts, then it expires after a number of days. I like to use the unlimited text and calls burner for 30 days for $4.99. It’s really handy to have, so check it out:
Watch: Craigslist Van and RV Shopping Tips
Craigslist Van and RV Search Tip #1 – Set up an account
That sounds easy enough, right? Just go to Craigslist.org and click on “My Account”, then click on “Sign Up” to create your new account.
After that, you just need to confirm your email address and you can begin posting ads and using the other Craigslist features.
Craigslist Van and RV Search Tip #2 – Setup Alerts
Now that you have an account set up, you can make your life so much easier by setting up Craigslist Alerts. Instead of going to Craigslist everyday and looking for that van or RV, you can let Craigslist do all the work for you.
To set up an alert, log into your Craigslist account and go about doing a normal search. For example, lets say we are looking for a Cargo Van. Put “Cargo Van” into the search box, then go through the filters on the left side of the screen to narrow down the search to what you are looking for.
After setting up all your search criteria, click on “email alert” to save this search to your Craigslist account. See below:
You will now have this alert added with any other alerts you may have saved. From this point forward, you will receive emails from Craigslist when something is listed on Craigslist that matches your search criteria. See below where we added “Cargo Van” to the list:
Now that you have the alerts set up, you can kick back and relax while Craigslist does the work. When Craigslist sees a new listing that matches your search criteria, you will get an email similar to the one below:
Craigslist Van and RV Search Tip #3 – Pre-Screen Craigslist Sellers
Before you waste your time calling on a bunch of ads on Craigslist for Vans and RVs, take a few seconds to pre-screen the seller using their phone number. It’s amazing what you can find out by just searching for a phone number on Google.
What to look for:
- Do they have multiple listings with that number?
- Are they listing Craigslist Ads as a Dealer or Owner
- Look for negative results associated with their number
- Look for info that you can use as a test – See if they lie
The phone number check is a very interesting/sneaky way to get some info on the seller. You never know what might turn up.
Example: I did a random search and found a van. The details looked almost too good to be true, so I investigated a bit. When I searched the persons number, I found out that he owned a mobile mechanic business. I checked into the business and found that the owner of the car had a very poor reputation.
After looking at the reviews for his business, I see that a few customers considered him to be rude and disrespectful. If I was to call this person, I would be alerted to his possible attitude and would really question his honesty with every question I asked him.
Craigslist Van and RV Search Tip #4 – Prepare a List of Questions
Personally, I lose my train of thought easily, so I like to have a list of prepared questions ready when calling about a van or RV. This way, if I get wrapped up in conversation, I can simply go on to the next item without having to recall where I was.
Here is an example of the questions I asked Craigslist sellers while I was looking for my van:
- How many owners?
- Name on title?
- Clear Title?
- Why Selling?
- How was vehicle acquired? Auction, trade-in?
- Vehicle Condition? Paint, body, engine, interior?
- Dents or Rust?
- Any Leaks?
- Is Transition Shift smooth?
- Which oil has been used?
- Any accidents?
- Service Records available?
- Tire tread %
- Brake pad % – squeaks?
- What service has been recently done – records?
- Cruise Control?
- Previous Smoker?
Well, I hope these tips help you in your search for your future Van or RV.
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