Craigslist Sellers Not Responding: Why?

Here’s why Craiglist sellers don’t respond:

Most likely, the item has already been sold, and the seller hasn’t found the time to remove the listing yet, and they have deemed replying to you to be more effort than it is worth. 

It’s also possible that they never saw your message because of spam filters or other issues. 

They might also have changed their mind. 

So if you want to learn all about why Craiglist sellers don’t respond to your messages, then you’re in the right place.

Keep reading!

7 Reasons Why Craigslist Sellers Don't Respond (All the Info)

What Is Craigslist?

For those unfamiliar, Craigslist is an online platform that helps people connect with each other to make exchanges. 

If you’ve ever seen a classified ad, Craigslist is the digitized version of that concept. 

You can post ads on Craigslist that attract people so you can sell items, fill job positions, rent out properties, and more.

Craigslist is organized by location, so when you use the site, you can browse listings in your own area.

Despite the digitization, Craigslist does not process transactions. 

It’s just a place where people can find each other to work things out for themselves. 

That means in order to buy something on Craigslist, you have to directly contact a seller and arrange the transaction with them.

How Does Craigslist Work?

In order to understand why sellers don’t respond to messages, it might help to take a journey through the selling process. 

If you have never sold an item on Craigslist, you might not be familiar with some of the details of the process.

In general, you create a listing. 

After that, you wait for people to contact you. 

If someone does, you can set up the details of the sale with them. 

You meet, exchange goods and money, and that’s the end of it. 

But, things don’t always work out so easily for sellers or buyers, and knowing more about the details can explain why.

So, let’s start with the process of creating a listing on the site.

#1 Create a Listing

To get started, go to the Craigslist site and click where it says “post to classifieds” on the left side of the screen. 

This will bring up a list of categories, and you can choose the one that is right for you. 

For the sake of this example, let’s assume that “for sale by owner” is the right one.

From here, you will get a new list that allows you to pick a category for the item. 

Let’s say that you want to sell a washing machine. 

This would go under “appliances.” 

After you select this, you will be able to set your contact info (more on that in the next section).

The site will prompt you to create the sales page. 

You can create a title for the ad, and you can fill out the description. 

This is where you include details about the washing machine and set your price. You can even upload pictures.

When you try to publish the ad, Craigslist will ask you to verify your email address. 

Once that is done, the ad will be published to the site.

#1 Set Contact Info

During that whole process, you get to set your contact information. 

Craigslist doesn’t have a built-in messaging system. 

So, you have to provide the contact information that you want to use. 

If you put your phone number or address on an ad, anyone in the world can get on Craigslist and see that information.

In the modern days of spam, most people stick with only providing an email address.

Fortunately, Craigslist offers a little bit of help here. 

You don’t actually have to post your good email address. 

Instead, you can use the Craigslist system. 

It will create a temporary email address for you, and any mail sent there will be forwarded to your real email address. 

So, if you do get spammed by people on the site, you can take down the listing, and that temporary address will be killed. 

You can also block forwarded emails from the temporary address to your real address.

Either way, no one actually has your real address, so you’re protected from spam in this way, but people can still contact you about the listing.

#2 Delete the Post

When you do sell the item, you can delete the post. 

Once you do, people won’t be able to see it on the site, and you won’t be contacted about the item anymore.

Craigslist also has a feature that automatically deletes posts after a set amount of time. 

For most locations, that time period is 45 days. 

So, if you create a posting and never get a response, the listing will eventually disappear from the site.

Also, if you sell your item and then forget about it, Craigslist will ultimately mop up your listing.

Why Don’t Sellers Respond on Craiglist?

Now that you know more about the selling process, some of the reasons that sellers ignore buyers will make more sense. 

The list below won’t cover every possibility, but it covers some of the most likely scenarios.

Before we get into it, Craigslist doesn’t publish statistics or run surveys. 

No one knows for sure what reasons are the most likely. 

These are all built on assumptions from reading conversations on forums, talking to sellers and buyers on Craigslist, and making inferences and logical guesses.

#1 The Item Already Sold

There are no high-quality surveys or studies that can tell you that this is definitively the most likely reason why people don’t answer you, but it’s easy to see why it might be the case.

Once an item sells, many sellers don’t want to deal with the hassle of Craigslist anymore. 

They can just ignore the emails and move on. 

It’s easier that way, and they don’t even have to worry about deleting the ad. Craigslist will take care of it.

This is exacerbated by the fact that most people only provide an email address and take advantage of the temporary Craigslist email. 

If they do provide a phone number, you’ll likely find that you get more responses from texts and voicemails than you do from emails, but that’s not always an option, and the most likely reason a seller is ignoring an offer is that the item is no longer available.

#2 They Don’t See the Message

It’s also possible that the seller never saw your message in the first place. 

Since Craigslist is forwarding emails to another email address, it’s entirely possible for the whole thing to get caught up in spam filters.

When that happens, the seller won’t receive any emails, and they might not even realize that a problem exists. 

They’ll just think that no one wants their item, and they’ll never have a chance to respond to anyone.

Once again, phone numbers help get around a lot of this, but if you don’t have a phone number to use, email is the only option, and you won’t be able to check to see if you’re stuck in spam or not. 

It’s one of the downsides of the Craigslist system.

#3 Too Many Messages

Sometimes, a seller puts up an item that a lot of people want, especially if the price is competitive. 

If they’re getting enough messages, yours might just get lost in the sea of information. 

Once again, there’s not a lot you can do about it, and you might just be unable to make this particular purchase with this particular seller.

#4 The Seller Isn’t Paying Attention

Conversely, the seller might not be getting any messages at all for days. 

So, when you send them a message, they aren’t even paying attention anymore. 

This is most likely when a seller uses something other than their primary email address for Craigslist. 

It makes sense if you want to avoid spam messages, but it can create exactly this kind of problem.

#5 Their Contact Information Changes

In another version of events, people change their contact information. 

Now, most people don’t change email addresses or phone numbers every 45 days, so the odds that this happens randomly are pretty low.

But if a seller is getting a lot of spam messages, they might be ready to cut their losses and ditch the email that is getting spammed. 

This can happen sometimes despite the existence of the Craigslist temporary email. 

Sometimes, what happens is that you will contact a seller and they like your offer. 

After that, they provide better contact information so you can arrange the transaction.

It might be that a seller does this, but the person is really just trying to get contact information to spam them. 

It doesn’t happen a lot, but it does happen sometimes, and that might drive a seller to change their contact information. 

Then, you won’t be able to reach them.

#6 They Don’t Actually Want to Sell the Item

This is not a super common occurrence on Craigslist, but with any platform where sellers can list prices, it does occur.

The concept is related to price manipulation, and it’s actually pretty simple.

Someone will post an item with a price on Craigslist, but the goal isn’t to sell the item. 

Instead, they put the price lower than most other listings on the site. 

They want other sellers to see this price and be influenced by it. 

So, if you were to post the same item and check on prices, you would see that this cheap washing machine hasn’t sold even though it’s been around a while. 

You might assume that washing machines aren’t worth as much as they used to be and set your price accordingly.

That’s the whole point. 

If they can convince people to set prices too low, they can then try to buy those low listings themselves. 

They might just be trying to score a cheap item, or they might even flip the item for a higher price.

#7 They Have Changed Their Mind on the Price

On the flip side, this happens, and it might even be common. 

If you place an ad on Craigslist and very quickly get a bunch of offers to buy the item at your listed price, it’s a red flag that you have severely underpriced the item. 

You might want to cancel your ad and create a new one to see if you can get more money.

So, if you message someone with a very new listing and don’t hear back, this might be the motivation. 

You might even see that same item at a higher price later on.


  • Theresa McDonough

    Tech entrepreneur and founder of Tech Medic, who has become a prominent advocate for the Right to Repair movement. She has testified before the US Federal Trade Commission and been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, helping influence change within the tech industry.

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