Craigslist (CL) is a popular bulletin board-style platform for posting ads, sharing community information, and buying and selling goods. Although Craigslist wasn’t built for real estate lead generation, it’s a simple, affordable, and effective way for agents to promote listings and connect with potential real estate clients. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to get real estate leads from Craigslist—from creating an account to posting your real estate listings, optimizing your posts with high-quality images, and reposting listings frequently.
1. Create a Craigslist Account
Although you can post listings on Craigslist without an account, creating an account makes managing your real estate posts and communications simple. Once logged into the platform, you can easily confirm, edit, and renew posts. Follow these steps to create your account:
- Go to Craigslist.org, find your location, and click “My Account” on the left side of the homepage.
- Enter your email address and click “Create an account.” Once you click submit, CL will send you an email asking for a password and to complete your registration.
- Log into your account to access your user dashboard.
- On your dashboard, post, view, and manage active and inactive posts. Modify and save drafts.
- You can filter posts by date, status, title, location, and other criteria and search for specific text if you have many posts.
2. Choose a Location & Posting Category
Posting residential listings to get Craigslist real estate leads is simple and free. You choose your target location, create a new post, and start adding photos and information. Make sure to use high-quality photos and choose the location where you want the ad to run. It only lets you post to one area and category, so you may want to create multiple listings. You must change them for each area, like using different subject line descriptions and mixing up the images.
Here are the location-based steps:
- Select your target location in your user dashboard.
- Click “Go” from your dashboard or “Create a posting” from the top left-hand column of the homepage.
- Select the type and category of your post. For example, “housing offered,” then “real estate – by broker.”
- Important note: To view the images below on the CL website, you must create your account and follow these steps outlined.
3. Agree to Craigslist’s Real Estate Posting Guidelines
When you’re learning how to list real estate on Craigslist, make sure your ads adhere to guidelines and regulations governing housing ads, restrictions, and tips. Once you’ve selected all the correct categories for your post, you’ll see a screen detailing Craigslist’s guidelines for real estate and a large button that says, “I will abide by these guidelines.” Make sure you review this.
Here’s a quick recap:
- Each real estate post must be about a single property, not loans, services, or multiple properties.
- Do not add photographs of yourself or links to “more information” outside of Craigslist.
- A successful real estate agent will follow these guidelines regardless of the platform.
- After reading the guidelines, click the button at the bottom to agree to the guidelines.
4. Input Listing Information
The next step in learning how to post a house for sale on Craigslist is designed to help you attract leads. You’re only required to fill in the title, city or neighborhood, property ZIP code, and email address. Adding more details will make your listing stand out and give prospects a better picture of the property. It’s a simple form with no styling, but you still want to maximize your chances of capturing a real estate buyer’s lead by making your listing compelling.
Here are the top tips to learn how to post real estate on Craigslist:
- Write a captivating title: Write something descriptive, like “Lovely Remodeled Bungalow in Walking Distance of Downtown.”
- Include the street name: Only add the street name or indicate the general area by neighborhood.
- Add the property description: Use descriptive words that accurately depict the home and guide the client’s imagination. For instance, write “spacious kitchen with ample cabinet space, breakfast bar with granite countertops, and new stainless steel appliances.”
- Enter neighborhood information: Include neighborhood amenities, such as shopping, schools and walkability scores, using real estate keywords to drive more traffic to your post.
- Include a clear call to action (CTA): To guide viewers on what happens next, add a solid and clear CTA at the end of your description.
Pro tip: Be wary of adding the full street address. For example, instead of adding “123 Main Street,” opt for “Main Street.” This protects the privacy of your listing, especially if someone is currently living in the home. Additionally, this encourages the lead to contact you for further information about the property and schedule a showing.
Consider hiring a freelancer if you don’t have the time or inclination to write ad copy to maximize Craigslist’s advertising opportunities. Fiverr is an online community of freelancers who can complete various tasks for as low as $5. Hire freelancers to perform various tasks like photography, copyediting, and personal branding.
5. Add Posting & License Details
On the same page, you’re asked to provide additional details for selling a house on Craigslist. Though this information is optional, adding more details to your post will give prospects a better idea about the home and encourage them to reach out. Add your real estate license number for reference as a licensed agent or broker. Doing so boosts your credibility and gives interested buyers the confidence to contact you.
Additional details include:
- Price, square footage, accessibility, housing type, and number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
- The only required fields are laundry and parking details.
- You can also include open house information or details about when the house is available.
- Once you have added listing details and your license information, click “continue.”
6. Add Location & Map
After writing an eye-catching title and compelling property description, Craigslist will generate a map showing the location of your listing. Using the map feature is essential because it helps potential buyers determine if the home is in their desired neighborhood.
There are two ways to add the location:
- Input the street name, closest cross street, and postal code to the blank fields to automatically pin
- Or drag and drop the pin or click the interactive map to choose the exact location of your listing
7. Upload High-quality Listing Photos
The next step to publishing your listing on Craigslist for real estate leads is to upload high-quality photos. High-quality photos are critical to showcasing your property’s best features and attracting qualified real estate leads. Craigslist makes it super easy to add photos. It only allows you to add 24, so add a good variety that provides a solid “sneak peek” into your listing and encourages prospective buyers to want to see more.
Here’s how to upload images:
- Click on the “Add images” button to add up to 24 professional property images.
- To attract serious buyers, use high-resolution (300 dpi) photos in JPG, GIF, or PNG format.
- Review the order of your upload to make sure the photos flow in the direction you want the buyer to visually tour the home.
To enhance your high-quality listing photos for your Craigslist posts, employ real estate photography best practices for the most success. Use Canva to edit photos or create social media posts, flyers, brochures, or a professional logo. Canva makes your listing photos and marketing materials more appealing—enabling you to stand out. Get started with the free plan.
8. Review Draft of the Post & Publish
Before submitting your draft, ensure it is precisely how you want it to display. Ensure the images are high-quality and in the order you want viewers to see them. Proofread your text to confirm there are no typos and it is grammatically correct. Avoid blocks of text so it’s easier to read. Follow these steps to review and post your listing:
- After finishing the post, follow the prompts to review your draft post.
- After reviewing, click “publish” in the lower right-hand corner.
- Check your email inbox for a message from CL to publish your draft.
- Again, review all the listing information and photos for errors and accuracy.
- If you don’t see an email within a few minutes, check your spam folder.
- If everything looks great, click the “publish” button and your post will go live.
9. Add New Leads to a CRM
When you’re first learning how to get real estate leads from Craigslist, you might not think too much about where to capture those leads for future reference. Once your Craigslist real estate listing posts, however, you can expect prospects to reach out to you via the email address in your user account.
To maximize your Craigslist real estate ads, use a real estate customer relationship manager (CRM) to track and nurture each lead as soon as they make initial contact. Also, consider using posting and tracking software to save time. Check this one out:
Using a CRM with a Zapier integration or built-in listing management, like the one offered by Real Geeks, streamlines your lead capture and tracking. Real Geeks integrates with the multiple listing service (MLS) and automatically posts your listings to Craigslist. You can then monitor Craigslist-generated leads and follow up with interested buyers using Real Geek’s automated email drip marketing tools.
10. Renew & Repost as Permitted
Free Craigslist posts remain active on the website for 30 to 45 days, though this may vary based on your location. You can renew/refresh an active free post after 48 hours from the initial posting or last renewal. Re-upping a post is only for 30 days from the initial posting. Renewing doesn’t extend its lifespan. Renewing moves your post to the top of the list and can be seen by many active users.
Follow the tips below to refresh your posts:
- Click renew to repost the duplicate listing (before the original one has been removed).
- Reposting creates a fresh copy and moves it to the top of the list.
- A “dual listing” may be flagged by moderators. If Craigslist finds your account posting too frequently, they can delete or “ghost” your listings, making them invisible to users.
- To avoid deleted and flagged posts, create a separate Craigslist account for every day of the week you wish to post listings.
- Alternatively, you can use an auto-posting service like Real Geeks, kvCORE, and TaskBullet to post for you.
Craigslist Listing Examples & Things to Avoid
What we like: This listing has an inspiring description that makes you want to click to learn more. They’ve maximized every Craigslist feature with the map, description, dozens of high-quality photos, and property details. The home has fantastic curb appeal. The agent also included their license number and brokerage name. Notice the brevity of the well-written description.
What could be improved: They posted the exact location, which could lead to potential renters driving onto the property or contacting the sellers directly. The description is not too lengthy, but they could divide the paragraph so it is not a block of text and maybe add more information about York, Maine. Also, other than license and brokerage, there is no information about the agent. Adding your name and contact information personalizes the viewer’s experience, making them more comfortable to reach out.
What we like: The agent provided ample property details, a location map, and an appealing description. She also included her name, contact information, and license number at the bottom of the listing. The photos are professional and have a nice flow and variety, taking the viewer through the property.
What could be improved: Like the last example, this home is vacant. It would show better in photos if it were staged. Also, she included a picture of the furnace and water tank. It’s not a terrible approach, but simply stating they are new and using the limited photo space on CL for more attractive photos would be ideal. Buyers can see the new plumbing and heating when they tour the home.
What we like: The agent/auctioneer still used quality photos while the home needed repairs. He also ensured that stains and damage showed. While you don’t want to do this for your regular listings, for a foreclosure or real estate auction property, it is helpful for prospective bidders performing their due diligence. We also like how the agent divided the text and gave many details. An open house before an auction is also excellent so bidders can tour the home.
What could be improved: More photos would be helpful. In this case, images of the furnace, water heater, plumbing, and roof would give prospective bidders a first look at their condition. Also, it would be helpful to move the open house and auction details under the photos instead of between the paragraphs.
What we like: You can tell these photos were done professionally, and she’s prepared to sell this house on Craigslist. The photos are light and bright and have been through photo editing software. The agent has left off the actual address to protect client privacy. She’s hosting an open house, so interested buyers must contact her for the address. This allows her to capture leads.
What could be improved: Though the listing photos are well done, and there are many of them, there are too many of the same room or outdoor spaces. Also, most rooms are vacant, making it difficult for buyers to imagine living there. By adding traditional or virtual home staging, the agent could make the listing more appealing. The agent didn’t include information about herself, and the property description is too short.
Craigslist ranks as the 21st-most visited website in the country and the first in the “eCommerce & Shopping” category, with 188.9 million monthly visits in November of 2023. This means it’s a ripe marketplace to get your listings in front of interested buyers. If you plan to market your real estate services to Craigslist, be mindful of the following statistics to create an effective marketing strategy:
- Regarding gender distribution, 57.87% of Craigslist users are male, while only 42.132% are female.
- In terms of age distribution, most users (21.04%) are aged 45 to 54 years old, followed by 25 to 34 years old (20.48%).
- Craigslist attracts users from 70 countries, with 92.98% of the traffic from the United States alone.
- Craigslist has more than 700 local websites.
- Craigslist gets most of its traffic from YouTube (39.25%), followed by Facebook (36.75%).
With these statistics, here are some of the pros and cons of using Craigslist for real estate:
|Most residential real estate listings are completely free (or pay a $5 fee for commercial real estate listings)
|Craigslist can ghost or flag ads
|No frills, easy-to-use interface
|Lead quality is not guaranteed and qualified; prone to scams
|Customize your own listing content
|Tracking real estate leads from Craigslist can be difficult
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
To get real estate leads from your website, you need to consistently add high-quality content that is search engine optimized. Implement clear calls to action, such as contact forms or newsletter sign-ups. Utilize social media integration to expand reach. Offer valuable resources, like guides or webinars, to attract visitors. Don’t forget to promote your website regularly.
Most real estate agents get their leads from word-of-mouth referrals. It’s the best kind of lead because it comes with an element of trust from the lead. It takes time and effort to build a referral base, so start with who you know and ask them if anyone in their network is considering buying or selling soon. Ask them to make the introduction through email.
To get free seller leads, request referrals from friends, family, colleagues, and your clients. Ask them for a warm introduction. Build an online presence on social media and your website and post ads on Craigslist. You can also engage in community and networking events, join groups, and partner with influencers. All of these ideas combined should help you find free seller leads.
Generating real estate leads can be daunting and, in many cases, expensive. Learning how to get real estate leads from Craigslist for free is a great way to maximize your budget. Follow these 10 easy steps to get real estate leads from Craigslist—from signing up to posting a compelling real estate ad that prompts buyers to reach out. This maximizes your return on investment by converting even just one client. Moreover, generated leads can also go into your CRM for long-term nurturing and conversion.