1. Hoarders - who want validation that their goods are valuable and desirable. These folks will list some of their hoarded possessions for sale on Craigslist and then be remarkably slow and vague in getting back to you if you contact them. You ask them basic questions like the price, location, and condition - as well as when you can stop by to see or buy the item - and they answer only one of the four questions.
So, four or five e-mails later, you have only a vague idea of the price and no indication of when you can come look at it or buy it. And the reason for this is, they really don't want to sell it. They just get off on the idea that someone else covets a possession that they own.
This validates their hoarding instincts, by giving them the impression that their piles of garbage are, in fact, rare and valuable collectibles that people desperately want. And why sell them, if they are so valuable?
Hoarding is a form of mental illness. Never deal with mentally ill people. If you e-mail someone about an item for sale, and they don't answer back promptly, and don't provide you with a clear price, condition, and when/where you can come buy it, just walk away. The item is not really for sale.
2. Power-Shifters - who want someone so "desperate" for a consumer good that they will overpay for it. And such desperate people are not hard to find, either. I wrote about power-shifters before. Most are professionals - salespeople and the like who use power games to manipulate people.
But some amateurs want to get into the game, and when they put their car up for sale, the try to power-shift the transaction so that you appear to be the one who desperately wants the product, as opposed to the person desperately wanting to unload it.
I looked at a used BMW wagon on Craigslist the other day. It was a nice looking car, but for some reason, while the seller put up all sorts of information, the one key piece - mileage - was missing. Any transaction entered into predicated on a lie is only going to go downhill from there.
So I e-mailed him and asked him, and he responded that it had 220,000 miles on it, which was far above average and near end-of-design-life for a BMW. And he was asking $2000 over book value for the car as well. Time to walk away from an unrealistic dreamer - right?
Well he e-mails back that "several people are interested in it!" and that I had better "jump on it now" as the first person with "cash money" (is there any other kind?) will get the car.
I just replied that it sounds like a good deal - for someone else. And perhaps someone else jumped on the deal - believing this guy's nonsense that the car was worth over book value. But myself, I was not inclined to pay extra.
3. The "I'll Get My Price" people - These are folks who think that for some reason, they are entitled to a particular price on a fungible consumer good, despite the fact that the book value for the item is far lower. And I've wasted my time with such folks in the past.
We went to look at a Wanderlodge - a classic RV that was built by BlueBird coaches here in Georgia. Being built on a school bus chassis, they were all-steel. Not a problem, unless you park it in Florida near the ocean for a few years.
This fellow wanted $20,000 for the coach, on the grounds that it had a rebuilt engine and new tires. But the real story was that the reason it had these items was that it had sat in the salt air for so long that the engine seized and the tires dry-rotted. The body and even the frame were a mess of un-restorable pack corrosion - thick, flaky rust that is impossible to fix.
The coach was good only for parts at this point - yanking the engine and the new tires, if they had not already rotted in the salt air.
The perpetual sailboat-for-sale people in Lansing, New York won't budge a dollar on "their price" even though the boat has been for sale for nearly seven years. (I went up there this summer, and yes, it is still there, and they still mow around it). Despite the fact that any piece of depreciating equipment drops in value over time, they have not adjusted their price. And the fact it remains unsold would tell you one thing and one thing only - that it is overpriced.
"The right person will come along..." they say. Maybe. Maybe a fool will buy it. But in the meantime, they have mowed around it for seven years - enough time to double your money in the stock market.