You can sell almost anything on Craigslist, and that includes houses. This is an option for people who are not keen on paying agent commission fees or are simply finding it difficult to sell their home through traditional means. Selling your home without an agent is often known as listing for sale by owner or FSBO.
Craigslist is one of the most popular options for FSBO sellers, but you’re often competing with thousands of other sellers with real estate ads while having to handle multiple queries from non-qualified sellers.
Here’s everything you need to know to sell your house using Craigslist and how to create a good ad.
What Is The Cost To Sell On Craigslist?
It’s generally free to post an ad on Craigslist to sell your house or list rental properties. However, apartment rentals in New York City may have an additional $10 fee for posting a listing on the website.
Any fees paid to the website are not refundable even if you cancel your listing.
The Advantages of Selling a House on Craigslist
Lower Costs of Selling Your Home
It’s free to make a posting on the website and you save on commission fees that you have to offer to agents for selling or renting a home, although the service offered by agents can be beneficial in some situations. Typically, these agent fees can range from 3-5% for both the buyer and the owner which means you save up to $20,000 on a $400,000 house for posting your house for sale on Craigslist.
Higher Traffic and Reach
Posting an ad on Craigslist for FSBO can also increase your reach to potential home buyers because of the large amount of traffic on Craigslist, which can also increase the number of offers you receive. Potential buyers can search through different properties and shortlist the few they are interested in based on your posts and photos, ensuring that you only get enquiries from people who are truly interested.
Some Houses Are Easier to Sell on Craigslist
Houses need to be of a certain standard for banks to be willing to provide loans reasonable mortgage loan rates. If your home is condemnable, uninhabitable or can’t be easily sold on the real estate market, you can find people who search for houses to fix up and flip on Craigslist.
You Can Back Out Anytime
Many agents lock you into a contract where you have to pay penalties if you choose to back out on selling your home within a certain period. If you don’t want to sell your home anymore, you simply delete your post on Craigslist. So selling your home on Craigslist can be a clever real estate tactic.
The Disadvantages of Selling a House on Craigslist
False Listings Are Prevalent
Many people can publish false listings, leading to a somewhat lower level of trust from buyers who search for a home on Craigslist. You may find that buyers ask for more information and are more thorough about their due diligence before they are willing to make an offer.
You might also find that your ad or post has been copied by scammers to make false listings as a part of a scam. While you can watermark your pictures to prevent this, it can be extra effort that you have to put in to market your home on Craigslist.
You Take Over the Responsibilities of an Agent
Once you create a listing on Craigslist or post your ad, you have to take over the role that a real estate agent would normally play. This involves answering questions and taking calls every day, organizing showings and showing all the people who are interested around your home. You may also have to post your mobile number and email address on your listing which can open you up to some unwanted calls or emails.
You may also have to coordinate with lawyers to get your paperwork sorted and handle the key exchange yourself, when you may already be busy with coordinating your move to another home or settling into your new home.
Having to Deal With Non-Qualified Buyers
You don’t have the tools that real estate agents do to screen out non-qualified buyers which means you might have to waste some time on people who respond to your ad but aren’t actually that interested in purchasing a home or may not qualify for a loan.
Sometimes you may even be contacted by a real estate agent looking to help you sell your home to earn a commission, even when you’ve clearly put your ad in the FSBO category.
How to Create a Good House for Sale Ad on Craigslist
To put your home on sale on Craigslist, login to your account on the Craigslist site and choose the option “Post to Classifieds”. Pick the “Housing Offered” option and “For sale by owner” if you’re selling your house without an agent.
Make sure you post plenty of photos, your contact information such as your name, email and city, and a compelling description on your ad. Here are some tips on creating a good ad.
Write a Compelling Headline
80% of marketing is in the headline. One thing that will help your posting stand out from the rest of the posts in the “Housing Offered” category is a headline that appeals to people’s emotions or is very specific. For example, “3 BR House in School District” is immediately going to catch the attention of families with young children.
Use numbers to grab attention and never lie about something in the headline in an effort to draw users in. People will be disappointed when they review your ad description and photos which can turn them off purchasing your home.
Once you’ve written your oh-so-catchy headline, it’s time to add images and content.
Post Great Photos
Take photos of the rooms in your house in various lighting so that buyers can get an accurate idea. Make sure the quality of your pictures are high as that is one of the things that can attract a Craigslist buyer on your ad.
Feature the most attractive features of your home on your Craigslist ad. This could be your swimming pool, the view from your home or spacious bathrooms.
You may even want to engage a professional photographer to take photos of your house as an experienced photographer can often provide recommendations on how to position your furniture to make your photos look more attractive.
Good photos can sell your home so that someone who contacts you is already convinced that they want to buy your home.
Add Descriptive Content to Your Ad
Make sure to include all the keywords that you think a potential buyer might look for on the site. For example, adding the number of bedrooms and bathrooms can be one of the important things for anyone looking to buy a home. Write down the home’s square footage and price. Include areas of interest around your home such as parks, restaurants or grocery stores.
Write down details such as the ZIP code and neighborhood name so that buyers can do their research about housing in the area. Don’t just indicate the state or city such as Washington D.C.
One thing you can do is to create a site with lots of photos, a list of appliances and fixtures, local amenities and a list of renovations and updates you’ve made to the house in order to make your home more attractive to people. You can link to your site in your listing so that users can visit your website. If you have friends who are skilled at building websites, this can be a great way to sell your house.
You may also want to indicate in your ad that you’re not interested in being contacted by investors or real estate agents to avoid time-wasters.
How to Be Safe When Selling Your House on Craigslist
Be Careful About Having Someone Come to Your House
Showings are unavoidable when you want to sell a house, but take some precautions. Get their name and phone number before you meet a potential buyer from a Craigslist ad and text them just before the appointment to confirm that they are coming.
Have a trusted family member or friend with you in the house. Have showings in the day if it’s possible but if you have to meet at night, turn on as many lights as possible and you may want to let someone know that you have a showing so that they can raise the alert if needed.
Put a Watermark On All of Your Craigslist Photos
Many people can pose as real estate agents to sell their home on Craigslist and post fake photos of the homes they are selling.
Make sure all of your photos on your ad have a watermark so that they cannot be stolen by others, especially those who would love to use them on their fake ads.
Do Not Post Confidential Information on Craigslist
Do not include pictures of your family members or personal items that could identify you. You do not post bank account information, your phone number or your personal email address publicly.
You can create an email account specifically for Craigslist to prevent people from spamming your personal email address. Once you’ve started communicating with what you think may be a serious buyer, you can provide your phone number to make it easier to organize showings. This also helps your buyer trust you more as a legitimate seller as they are often taking some risk buying a house on Craigslist too.
Trust Your Instincts
If something doesn’t feel right about a buyer or the questions they are asking, walk away. You’ll reach many other potential buyers on Craigslist so you don’t have to feel bad about rejecting an offer from someone you don’t feel good about dealing with.
Plan All Details in Advance
Have all the details such as the selling price, expected payment type and any specific details in your listing so that you won’t have any surprises when you meet a potential buyer in person to finalize the deal. You should have all your paperwork ready and reviewed by your lawyer in advance so you can close the sale quickly once you get an offer.
If you are trying to sell your home on Craigslist, have high quality images, a great headline and a compelling description on your ad. One benefit of selling on Craigslist is that you avoid the hefty commission that you have to pay to a real estate agent for selling your home. Another benefit is that you may likely be able to sell your home faster than you would listing it on the MLS.
Once you’ve figured out how to sell your home on Craigslist for the first time, you’ll often be able to sell other houses every time you move using the same tips we’ve recommended above for your listing. Craigslist also offers the option to search real estate by owner so potential buyers familiar with Craigslist may look there first.