This article is part of a larger series on Real Estate Lead Generation and Marketing.
Craigslist 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 per se, it’s a simple, affordable, and direct way for agents to promote listings and connect with more potential buyers. You can get real estate leads on Craigslist by optimizing your posts with high-quality images, calls to action, and well-structured copy.
Here are the 10 steps for how to get real estate leads from Craigslist:
1. Create a Craigslist Account
Although you can post listings on Craigslist without an account, it’s much easier to use if you create an account. When you’re logged into the platform, you can easily confirm, edit, and renew posts. To create an account, go to Craigslist.org and click on “my account” on the left side of the homepage. Enter your email address and click “Create account.”
Once you submit your email address, Craigslist will send you an email asking you to select a password and complete your registration. Once this is complete, you’ll be able to log in and access your personal user dashboard.
Your Craigslist user dashboard is where you can view and manage active and inactive posts as well as modify and save drafts. You can view your posts by date, status, title, location, and other criteria; you can also search for specific text if you have a large volume of posts.
2. Choose a Location & Posting Category
Posting residential listings to get real estate leads on Craigslist is simple and free. Before you can post, you’ll need to make sure you select the city closest to you in your user dashboard.
To start your listing, you can either click “Go” from your dashboard or “Create a Posting” from the top left-hand column of the homepage. The next few screens will prompt you to select categories for your post. Start by choosing the “housing offered” option and then select “real estate – by broker.” This is how you ensure that your listing will show up when people search listings of homes for sale on Craigslist.
3. Agree to Craigslist’s Real Estate Posting Guidelines
As with any other platform, your ad must adhere to guidelines and regulations governing housing ads, as well as Craigslist’s 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 you will need to click that says “I will abide by these guidelines.”
The first requirement basically states that each Craigslist real estate post must be about a single property, not about loans, services, or other websites. There are also additional details for what can and cannot be included in your listing. Agents who are successful in real estate typically include the suggested items in their listings regardless of the platform. After you’ve read through these guidelines, click the button to continue the process.
4. Add Listing Information: Title, Location & Description
Now it’s time to create the listing post that will help you get real estate leads on Craigslist. Craigslist will prompt you to input a title and body for your post as well as optional details. It’s a simple form with no styling, but you still want to maximize your chances of capturing a real estate buyer lead by putting some effort into your listing description, title, and photos.
There are only a few fields that are required for your post: title, city or neighborhood, postal code (ZIP code of the property), and email address—but keep in mind that posts with more details are typically more successful. Here are the top tips for creating an effective listing post on Craigslist:
- Write a compelling title: Instead of just using the property’s address as the title, write something descriptive, like “Beautiful Bungalow Within Walking Distance of Downtown.”
- Include the street name: Rather than writing the full address, add only the street name or indicate the general area by neighborhood.
Pro tip: When adding the address, 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. Also, this helps to guarantee that a lead has to reach out to you for further information about the property in order to schedule a showing.
- Add a description of the property: Inform the buyer or renter what they are going to see when they view the property. Use descriptive words to guide the client through the property. For instance, instead of “spacious kitchen,” write “spacious kitchen with ample cabinet space, breakfast bar with granite countertops, and new stainless steel appliances.”
- Add neighborhood information: Make your Craigslist post stand out by using the body to highlight interesting and valuable information, like neighborhood shopping offerings, school districts, walkability scores, and using real estate words to make the property as appealing as possible.
- Include a clear call to action (CTA): Add a strong CTA at the end of your description to make it easy for interested leads to contact you. You can use specific tracking numbers or codes to know where leads are coming from.
- Make it easy to take action: In addition to your CTA, you can add an automatic scheduler like Calendly to more easily get real estate leads from your Craigslist post. Calendly connects to your calendars and shows clients your available times to book appointments. It streamlines the process of scheduling a phone call or showing, and Calendly offers a free option to get you started.
If you want to take advantage of Craigslist’s advertising opportunities but don’t have the time or inclination to write ad copy, consider hiring a freelancer. Fiverr is an online community of freelancers who can complete a variety of tasks for as little as $5. Fiverr freelancers can perform a variety of tasks from photography, copyediting, and personal branding.
5. Add Posting & License Details
On the same page, you’ll be asked to provide additional details, like location, square footage, accessibility, housing type, and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, but the only required fields are laundry and parking details. You can also include open house information or details about when the house is available. Even if this information isn’t required, adding more of these details will help generate qualified real estate leads from Craigslist.
As a licensed real estate agent or broker, be sure to add your license number for reference. Including this on the listing is a great way to prove your authority and give interested buyers confidence to contact you. Once you have added both listing and license information, click “Continue.”
6. Add Location & Map
After you write an eye-catching title and property description, Craigslist will generate a map to show the location of your listing. This is an important feature because it helps potential buyers determine if the home is in an appealing neighborhood.
There are two ways to input the location. You can add the street name, the closest cross street, and the postal code to automatically place the pin. Or you can drag and drop the pin on the interactive map to identify the approximate area of your listing.
7. Add High-quality Listing Photos
One of the final steps before publishing your listing to get real estate leads on Craigslist is to add high-quality photos. As with any other listing channel, this is a critical step and the key to showcasing your property’s best features. Click on the “Add images” button to add up to 24 professional property images—and make sure they are high-resolution (300 dpi) and in JPG, GIF, or PNG format.
If you want to take and edit your own high-quality listing photos, make sure you employ these real estate photography tips for the most success. Then use Canva to edit photos or create social media posts, flyers, brochures, or even a professional logo. Canva makes your listing photos and marketing materials stand out from the rest. Try it with the free plan.
8. Review Draft of Post & Publish
After your listing’s information, map, and photos are all entered, Craigslist’s posting tool provides a draft of the post for you to review. If you review the post and everything is accurate, click “Publish” in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.
You will immediately receive an email from Craigslist asking you to confirm that your listing is ready to be published, and it’s a good idea to review everything one last time. These steps help prevent publishing your listing before it’s complete, or publishing a listing that has mistakes.
Your Craigslist post won’t be live until you complete the email confirmation step, so it is important to keep your eye on your inbox. If you don’t see an email within a few minutes, check your spam folder to be sure the confirmation email did not accidentally route to the wrong place.
Here are some of the pros and cons of using Craigslist to get real estate leads:
|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|
|Customize your own listing content||Tracking real estate leads from Craigslist can be difficult|
9. Add New Leads to a CRM
Now that your Craigslist real estate listing is live, you should expect prospects to reach out to you via the email address in your user account. As with all real estate ads, you should use a real estate customer relationship manager (CRM) to track and nurture each lead as soon as they make initial contact.
To streamline the lead capture and tracking process, use a CRM with a Zapier integration or built-in listing management, like that offered by Real Geeks. Real Geeks integrates with the MLS and automatically posts your listings to Craigslist. You can then track Craigslist-generated leads and follow up with them using automated email marketing tools.
10. Repost as Frequently as Permitted
All Craigslist posts remain active on the website for 45 days. However, to keep visibility high, you can repost the same listing before the original one has been removed. Keep in mind that this “dual listing” may be flagged by moderators; if they determine that your account is posting too frequently, they can delete or “ghost” your listings, making them invisible to users.
To avoid issues with deleted and flagged posts, it’s recommended that you create a separate Craigslist account for every day of the week you wish to post listings. Alternatively, you can use an auto-posting service that will post and repost properties for you as frequently as the platform permits. Popular options include Real Geeks, kvCORE, and TaskBullet.
To generate as many leads as possible, it’s important to use all the lead generation tools available, even classified ad sites like Craigslist. Because you can get real estate leads on Craigslist at no cost (or even just a small cost), you maximize your return on investment by converting even just one client. Plus, leads generated from Craigslist can also go into your CRM for long-term nurturing and conversion down the road.