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Craigslist Ads For Real Estate Investors: The Quick-Start Guide

Craigslist Ads take a lot of flack from real estate investors.

Many say that they’re not worth the time involved or that they’re bad for generating leads.

But, in our experience, what that actually means is that those investors didn’t know how to fully utilize the power of Craigslist and how to properly set up those ads to avoid wasting time and energy.

In this guide, we’re going to show you how to get the most from the platform so you can start generating more (free) seller leads to your real estate business.

Pros & Cons of Craigslist Ads For Real Estate Investors

Before we get into exactly how to set them up (and make them work), though, we need to take a second to address some of the elephants in the room — the good and not-so-good — for Craigslist ads.

The Pros

  • They’re free. If budget is a concern, placing ads on Craigslist won’t cost you a penny. You’ll trade time and energy to create and manage the campaigns but it won’t cost you a thing.
  • They’re easy to use. Posting ads to the platform is incredibly easy. Compared to other platforms, the learning curve is almost non-existent if you already know how to use a computer.
  • They’re purpose-driven. Users on Craigslist are looking to solve a problem. That means you’ll be saving time by getting more targeted leads who aren’t distracted like they are on social media.
  • There’s very few constraints. Many platforms limit what you’re able to say. On Craigslist, you can say things that would normally get your ads disabled or make your emails trigger the spam filters.
  • You can find sellers & buyers. With the platform, you’re able to find BOTH buyers and sellers so you’re able to find new inventory and sell inventory that’s ready to go.

The Cons

  • Ad views aren’t filtered. An unfortunate side effect of being easy to use is that you’ll likely get calls from people who are only wasting your time. This is hard to avoid with Craigslist.
  • Need a CRM in place. To properly manage the lead flow, you’ll need a CRM like REsimpli to ensure you’re staying in touch with the right people & aren’t losing potential deals.
  • Lots of categories. Figuring out the category to post your ads can feel frustrating since there are so many to choose from — like Real estate broker, Real estate services, and Housing wanted.

When you’ve weighed the pros against the cons, you’ll start to realize that there is a ton of untapped potential in using Craigslist ads as a real estate investor, as long as you do it the right way.

How To Create Craigslist Ads For Real Estate Investors

Here’s a step-by-step guide for putting together Craigslist ads that actually work.

Step 1: Have a Plan

One of the keys to making Craigslist ads work is by having a plan before you get started — and making sure part of your plan is following up with the leads you get since most won’t convert right away.

For the investors who complain about Craigslist ads not being worth the time, chances are high they didn’t have a proper foundation laid.

To ensure you’re getting the best results possible, make sure each of the bases below is covered:

  • Create Your Website — You want to make sure your website is set up to handle the incoming flow of leads. From being able to handle the traffic, being optimized for all devices, and set up to convert traffic into leads is critical. We use Carrot websites to solve all of those problems.

Check out this video to see how we’re using it:

  • Manage Your Leads — Before you start driving leads from Craigslist, you also want to make sure you’re using a CRM like REsimpli. If you don’t have a CRM set up, you’ll let leads slip through the cracks and lose deals. Click here to see how to effectively use it.
  • Use Email Marketing — Following up with the leads you generate by email and text messaging is a great way to convert more of them into phone calls and appointments. We use OmniDrip to write all of our SMS and emails and have seen great results with their messages.
  • Handle Lead Intake — In terms of handling the incoming calls all the follow up you’re doing will generate, you may want to consider using a service like Call Porter. They keep us from being on the phone all day and pre-qualify prospects before letting them book an appointment with us.
  • Send Direct Mail — When it comes to following up with prospects, it’s hard to beat the conversion rates of targeted, personalized direct mail campaigns. Some of the best mailers we’ve used are The Comic Card series and The Americana Sequence.

Remember: how you handle the leads that are coming in from Craigslist determines how effective your Craigslist ads are going to be.

Check out the video below to learn more about how to properly handle them.

When you have the foundations laid, finding motivated sellers on Craigslist becomes significantly easier.

Step 2: Create Your Account

If you haven’t already joined Craigslist and created an account, click here to create one now.

After you create your account, spend a bit of time browsing through the categories to determine where you’re going to post your ads.

Check out the following:

  • Real estate broker
  • Real estate services
  • Housing wanted
  • Real estate wanted

You want to get a feel for the types of ads that other investors are posting.

Step 3: Create/Prepare Your Ad

The next step is creating the ads you’re going to post for the properties you want to list.

For now, get familiar with how you’re going to post them. Then, later in this guide, we’ll break down examples from other investors to help get your creative wheels spinning.

To get started, you’ll want to visit the Craigslist homepage.

Make sure the location is the area you want to work in.

If it’s not, click here to view a list of available areas you can post in and choose the right one.

After, click “post to classifieds” to begin creating your ad.

Next, select a category for your post.

You’ll be asked to select additional categories for your ad.

For instance in the “housing offered” section, you’ll be asked to choose specific categories, like “real estate – by owner” or “apartments / housing for rent” depending on what you’re listing.

Once you’ve chosen the category and sub-category, the next step is creating your ad.

To create your ad, you’ll want to enter the post title, post description, price, and the email address where replies to your ad will be sent.

If you’re drawing blanks on creating the ad, keep reading through this guide and we’ll break down examples from other investors a bit later.

After your ad is ready to go, click the “continue” button to post it.

You’ll be asked to upload images for the listing.

Upload your images and when you’re finished, click “done with images”.

Finally, you’ll be asked to confirm that your ad looks good and then given a chance to confirm your post.

If you need to make changes, click on “edit text” or “edit images” depending on what you need to change.

Otherwise, click “publish”.

Now, before your ad goes live, you will need to confirm your email address.

Check your inbox for an email from Craigslist and then click the confirmation link inside of it.

If everything goes smoothly, you’ll see your ad appear on Craigslist in around 15 minutes.

Step 4: Optimize Your Ad Copy

When you’re creating the ad, you want to make sure it stands out against the competition.

There’s a few ways to do that:

#1 – Make Your Title Stand Out

With so many other investors posting to Craigslist, you’ll want to make sure your ad title stands out and grabs attention.

One easy way to stand out is to use emojis, excessive punctuation, and symbols so your ad is easy to see against the others that are using text only.

#2 – Write Short, Compelling Copy

To make sure your ad gets read, keep your copy short and punchy.

(We’ll give you examples for proven ads in just a bit.)

#3 – Create A Compelling Call To Action

Don’t just assume people are going to know what to do or how to get in touch with you — use your call to action to make it incredibly easy for people to know what to do next.

#4 – Format Your Images

Finally, make sure your images match the platform and that you’re using all 8 available slots.

Upload high-quality photos that showcase your property in the best way possible. They could be the factor that determines whether or not people reach out to you to get more information.

Step 5: Test + Iterate

Making your Craigslist ads work revolves around two things: testing and tracking.

You want to test different ad formats, like copy and headlines, as well as measure the results that you’re getting from each one of them.

Then, as you create new ads, you can take the best of what’s working and get higher conversion rates with each new ad you post.

Step 6: Respond!!

Your ads are no good if you fail to respond to the people reaching out wanting to know more.

If you’re too busy to respond to the calls that are coming in, use a service like Call Porter to help.

Then, make sure you’re plugging everyone into your CRM (like REsimpli) so you’re not letting leads slip through the cracks or losing out on deals.

Step 7: Be Consistent

Consistency is the name of the game — even with free marketing channels like Craigslist.

You want to be posting new ads as often as possible and refreshing old ads to implement what you’ve learned through your testing and tracking.

How To Avoid Time Wasters On Craigslist

One of the problems you may find yourself facing on Craigslist is time wasters.

They’ll send you dozens of emails and even get on phone calls with you or attend your showings.

But they won’t actually commit to moving forward.

To avoid wasting time with them, make sure you’re moving to get people to come into your office as soon as possible so you can avoid people who are window shopping.

Also, get down to what they need as early into the conversation as you can so you’re not discussing houses for sale with someone who’s only looking to rent.

Consider using a virtual assistant to field the calls (or a service like Call Porter) to pre-qualify people.

Then, you can always ask for proof of pre-approval or pre-qualification early to make sure you’re only talking to people who are serious about moving forward.

Examples of Craigslist Ads For Real Estate Investors

Now comes the fun part… seeing ads that have worked so you can imitate their format and create yours.

Below are 4 examples of good Craigslist ads to help you get started.

The ad above stands out with a headline and high-quality images.

It also shows the features and benefits of the property so people know exactly what they’re getting before they make a call or send an email.

The above example is great for generating seller leads.

It starts off with a headline that creates a bit of controversy and goes against the grain — making it great for generating attention.

This ad is promoting an open house for investors who are looking for a handyman special to buy.

It gives them all the information they need to quickly determine whether or not it’s in their niche, their price range, and how they can see it in-person.

Finally, this example breaks down who the property would be perfect for — young professionals. This helps pre-qualify people before they call so you save time screening people as they message you.

Final Thoughts

Craigslist ads for real estate investors is a great, free way to drive more leads to your business.

As long as you’re using the right approach and you’re working around the limitations of the platform so you’re avoiding time wasters and then staying consistent with your posting schedule, you can tap into a new source of potential prospects without a ton of effort.

Remember, though, that you’ll still want to follow up with the serious people who reach out to you but aren’t yet ready to move forward.

In our experience, using direct mail is one of the best ways to stay top of mind with them and convert more of those prospects into closed deals down the road.