There are flashier and easier-to-navigate real estate websites than Craigslist. But the fact is, Craigslist still gets over 250 million site visits a month. Craigslist is free, simple, and designed to connect buyers with sellers directly.
Wondering how you can get real estate leads from Craigslist? In this article, we’ll walk you through how to get your listings (or any listings, for that matter) in front of interested buyers, and how to convert those viewers into closings.
New to Craigslist? Here Are the Basics
Craigslist is a website for digital classified ads where users can buy and sell anything from toasters to tube tops, race cars to real estate. On your local Craigslist page, you can look for or post a job, join community conversations, search for services, or buy and sell just about anything (legal) under the sun. Seriously, if you haven’t been on Craigslist before, take some time to poke around—it’s pretty wild.
We’re interested in the “Housing” section of Craigslist, and specifically, “Real Estate For Sale.” Here, people create ads marketing homes, condos, property, and everything in between. Ads are typically for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) or by agents promoting their listings.
What Kind of Real Estate Leads Will I Get on Craigslist?
For the most part, you’ll find buyer leads on Craigslist. Most people cruising the listings on Craigslist are looking for a home. The people who are posting are the ones who have a home to sell, so the leads you’re going to find on Craigslist are buyers interested in purchasing properties.
7 Steps to Getting Craigslist Real Estate Leads
Posting an ad on Craigslist is pretty straightforward. We’ll walk you through the steps and give you the strategies you need to start bringing in those buyer leads.
1. Create a Craigslist Account—An Essential First Step
First things first: Create a Craigslist account—it will make your life so much easier.
Craigslist postings are displayed on the page newest to oldest. There is no algorithm tailoring what you see based on your behavior—everyone sees everything, based on when it was posted.
Users with a Craigslist account can log in and see every post they have active on the site and can easily renew their listing so that it gets pushed to the top of the Craigslist feed. Users without an account can also renew their posts, but have to jump through hoops to verify that the post was actually theirs every time they want to update, edit, or renew.
Follow through in our slideshow for instructions on how to post your first Craigslist ad after you’ve created your account.
2. Write a Great Real Estate Craigslist Headline
Through years of experience, we know that if a headline doesn’t grab your attention, you just aren’t going to click. Most browsers of Craigslist are scrolling relatively quickly through the listings page.
Skip the mediocre headlines like, “For Sale: 345 Main Street.” Try something like, “STUNNING Four Bedroom Meadowbrook Home Just Listed For Sale.”
This headline is rich in information. It uses a flashy adjective (stunning), it describes a physical feature (four bedrooms), calls out a prestigious neighborhood (Meadowbrook), and adds some urgency (just listed).
A handy way to remember tips for an outstanding headline is this mnemonic: WANT.
W: Where. Add the neighborhood, street, community, town—wherever the listing is located.
A: Adjective. Include an eye-catching adjective like Stunning, Grand, One-of-a-kind, Luxury, Impeccable, Updated, Pristine, Spacious, Storybook, Cozy, etc.
N: Now. Use language to create urgency, like Just listed, Won’t last, Not to be missed, Unique opportunity, Remarkable find, Deal of a lifetime.
T: Tiny Detail. Pick something that will make your property stand out. Grand Oak, Majestic staircase, No flood insurance required, Marble countertops, or even Bird watching.
723 Descriptive Real Estate Words Top Listing Agents Use to Sell Homes
Take a look at some of these headlines and imagine which you might click on as a house hunter.
3. Write Fantastic Copy for Your Real Estate Craigslist Ad
Ad copy on Craigslist is crucial to get right. Here’s why.
Your ad copy has to display all of the most important information for a listing (square footage, acreage, bedrooms, bathrooms, neighborhood, style, and so on) and do it in a way that will entice your reader to learn more.
You want to provide enough information that a buyer is interested in the home, but you want them to feel like they need more information so that they will reach out to you. Here’s an example of some excellent Craigslist real estate ad copy:
“If you’re looking for a fantastic home on the west side of the city, you’ve found it. 123 Main Street is a practically brand-new home (built in 2021) that comes complete with top-of-the-line finishes throughout, including marble countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms, maple hardwood floors in the spacious first floor, and plush Berber carpet with a double-thick pad upstairs.
“With four bedrooms and three full baths, this home has enough room for families of any shape or size. When it’s time to relax, step outside into your fenced backyard and spend some time on the newly laid patio.
“To see more photos, learn more about this property, find out any special buyer incentives the seller may be offering, and to set up a showing, text or call today.”
This ad copy is clear, engaging, and paints a picture of the experience of being in the home, not just objective details. The goal is to motivate a reader to want to learn more.
Not much of a writer or too busy to craft beautiful copy? Don’t worry, we’ve found plenty of highly experienced Craigslist Ad Experts on Fiverr who can write all the content for you, for as little as five bucks.
12 Real Estate Copywriting Rules Professional Writers Swear by
4. Include Enticing Photos in Your Real Estate Craigslist Ad
Most browsers won’t take action on an ad unless they have some visual to back up your ad copy, so choose the best listing photos you’ve got and include them just like you would on your MLS listing.
Need help touching up your photos? Consider using Apply Design. Their services are quick, affordable, and can turn even iPhone photos into stunning property images.
Real Estate Photography: 9 Tips for Stunning DIY Photos
5. Create a Clear Call-to-Action
According to Craigslist’s terms of service, the typical call to action for real estate ads isn’t allowed. For example: “Visit our website to learn more about this home and to schedule a showing!”
You’re not even allowed to include a hyperlinked URL in the ad copy itself, and attempts to get around this rule (like saying “copy and paste this URL to learn more”) are sure-fire ways to get your ad flagged on Craigslist.
But we’ve got the solution for you: you are allowed to include a phone number with your listing; in fact, you’re encouraged to do so.
When creating your ad copy, use a phrase like, “Text or call me to learn more about this home, including any special incentives the seller may be offering, and to set up a showing.” Or “Text or call for more photos of this one-of-a kind property.”
6. Plan Your Renewal & Reposting Cadence
Set aside some time every morning to work on Craigslist ads. When you log into your account, you’ll see which of your ads are eligible for renewal. Renewing pushes your posts back to the top of the Craigslist feed.
Don’t renew more than five posts in a single day. Craigslist has some automated monitoring in place to flag spam accounts. If your renewal volume gets too high, you may trip one of those safeguards and have to start all over with a new account.
Also, set a reminder on your calendar to remove and recreate posts after 21 days. Most browsers on Craigslist regularly visit the site looking for something new. If your ad isn’t converting, consider creating a new ad (for the same property) with a new headline, some new photos, and refreshed ad copy.
7. Have a Solid Lead Conversion Strategy
You’ve created an account and posted a fantastic ad with all the right photos and engaging ad copy. Now what? Well, you need to actually convert the leads you get into clients.
Most of the leads you’ll see from Craigslist are high-funnel buyers, usually in the “Just Looking” phase of their real estate journey. This frustrates some real estate agents, but you should be happy about it. Here’s why:
Generally, these early-stage buyers haven’t spoken to a mortgage lender or a real estate agent. They don’t know what they want—they just know they want to look. This gives you an opportunity to provide value early in their process, becoming a trusted resource and partner in their mission.
What to Do When a Lead Call or Text Comes In
When someone calls or texts you from a Craigslist ad, ask for their email so you can send them the full listing of the property as a link from your website.
This does two things: First, it gets you an email address to add to their lead information. Secondly, it puts them into a traditional lead ecosystem you can manage in your customer relationship manager (CRM).
Lead Nurturing: Tools & Strategies for Conversion (+ Scripts)
Ask for a Showing
Next, immediately ask if they’d like to schedule a showing. Sometimes a little momentum is all it takes to push the “Lookers” into “Shoppers.” You have the opportunity to ask if they’ve been pre-approved (if they haven’t, make a referral to a mortgage lender you like), and to continue the conversation about what they’re looking for in a home.
My 6-Day New Lead Text Messaging Campaign + Agent Texting Scripts
Start Your Long-term Nurture Strategy
If you get an email address from the lead, set them up to receive property alerts from your website of homes in the area that match the basic criteria of the property they requested information on. Before you activate the drip, shoot them a message like this:
I was just doing a search on my website for properties for another client, and I saw some homes that I thought you might like too. I’ve set you up on a property alert for homes like these; feel free to let me know if you want me to adjust the criteria or pause it at any time.
This allows you to create a cadence of regular contact with the lead, which then gives you a reason to check in once every couple of weeks to see if there’s anything you can do.
23 Real Estate Email Templates That Will Generate Business
Bonus Strategy: Go After Seller Real Estate Craigslist Leads
This article has been all about capturing buyer leads—the most abundant leads in Craigslist. But, there’s a strategy for capturing listing leads too.
Remember, there are a LOT of FSBO posts on Craigslist. Most of these FSBOs include a phone number and/or an email.
You can work these FSBOs just like any other, but we suggest starting with a quick comparative market analysis (CMA) of their property using the information in the ad so that in your initial conversation with them, you have something valuable to offer them.
The 10 Best FSBO Scripts (+ Why They Work)
Bringing It All Together
Still have questions on how to get real estate leads from Craigslist? Getting ready to start your first push onto Craigslist? Had success in getting leads from Craigslist? We’d love to hear your questions or results—tell us in the comments below.