Localbitcoins does exactly what it says, it lets you trade Bitcoins both locally (i.e. cash face to face if you like) and also like other exchanges with people located elsewhere. It lets you buy and sell your Bitcoins via anything such a cash all the way through credit cards and finally to bank transfer (including SEPA). You can also trade in a variety of currencies, indeed whatever the other trader is offering. In common with Bitcoin.de this is an over the counter exchange which means payments are conducted between parties directly while the trade is held in escrow until the seller releases the bitcoins. This of course has its inherent risks.
As a buyer or seller you set up an advert with a floating price, i.e. at a fixed percentage above or below the Bitfinex market rate. This means unlike Bitcoin.de the price reflects the going rate more accurately however it does mean you need to constantly check any listings you make sure you don’t lose money on a sale. Also important to note is that you define your own terms of sale (including payment method and dates). Other features worth noting are that you can define levels of trust and also the ID requirements of your fellow traders. Adverts can also have an opening time, much like a physical shop. Note however that if you place an advert you are responsible for 1% fee, whereas if you respond to an advert or use the quick sell feature you pay nothing. Quick sell is nice in that it finds the best price from all available adverts given the criteria you specify.
Trust is is important in such markets and you can leave a variety of ratings and even comments relating to other people you have traded with. You can even block or mark them as trusted – with trusted traders being given access to specific adverts you have listed for them only. In general this is a much more important feature than on bicoin.de. For example I have had far more problems with others cancelling trades or not abiding by trade terms that I have specified. There is a forum attached to the site where you can find lively discussions about potential scammers and common problems others have encountered.
Other features worth noting are the live chat assistance from members of their customer support team. Which can be reached in the darkest hours of the night. You can also mark trades as in dispute and their team will normally respond to the request and resolve the situation within 1 working day. My experience of this was that they were thoroughly professional and quick.
In general I find Localbitcoins requires much more active involvement that Bicoins.de also the number of scammers and untrustworthy people on it seems to be much higher. This not the fault of Localbitcoins but it is something you should take into account if you are planning on using the site. It is also a problem which has been noted on in other reviews and forum posts.
Would I recommend the site? Yes in short but only if you are prepared for the ride. Their customer service is very good and the range of options you can set up for trades is impressive. However, for the newbie I’d stick to bitcoin.de.