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How to Find Amazing Real Estate Deals on Craigslist

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If you’re looking for low and no-cost ways to find great real estate deals from motivated sellers, there is an OCEAN of opportunity at your fingertips if you know how to use the multitude of free ad posting directories online.

One of the most notable free ad posting directories is Craigslist, and as obvious as it should be, many people don’t realize there are real, legitimate deals waiting to be found on these free, publicly available websites like this (which attracts tens of millions of visitors each month).

If you have the luxury of time, you can start by searching these websites manually for motivated sellers and properties that show good potential for high equity.

Luckily, all of these platforms offer ways to narrow down your search.

For example, on Craigslist, you start by clicking on the “Housing” section (which will give you access to EVERYTHING related to housing), or if you want to get even more specific, click on the “real estate for sale” section and go from there.

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On the next page, make liberal use of the filtering options available in the sidebar, and start searching for properties based on the keywords that reflect your desired outcome.

For example, I might start by specifying a price range, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms and locations I consider acceptable.

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You can also take it one step further by typing in some of the keywords commonly referred to in property listings that actually end up being good deals.

In the example above, I used the word “Fixer”, because if a listing includes this word, the owner or listing agent is probably using the words “fixer upper” (or something to that effect) to describe the condition of the property – which means there’s a better chance I’d actually be able to get the property for a price that is far below market value (because obviously, it needs work, and it’s less appealing to the typical retail buyer).

There are a TON of these types of keywords that can help you zero-in on the properties that appeal to investors who are looking to buy at a lower price.

Want some other common keywords that tend to return a more concentrated number of good deals? Here are some other examples that will help you root out the best opportunities:

Remember, if you’re going this route, you’ll have to be smart about it.

You can waste A LOT of time just looking line-by-line at every single listing (and the vast majority of these listings won’t be worth your while).

Use the search functionality to keep the fluff out of your searches and zero in on exactly what you’re looking for.

As you can probably imagine, searching through Craigslist every day (even when you’re filtering your searches the right way) can take a lot of time and attention.

Most of us have plenty of other things to do, so it’s never a bad idea to automate as much of the process as possible – right?

At one point in time, it was possible to automatically scan Craigslist and sort the data into a Google Sheet with a service called IFTTT. Unfortunately, the service no longer offers the ability to do this.

As an alternative, it is possible to save the search for whatever opportunities you’re looking for.

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This allows you to create daily (and sometimes more frequent, depending on your level of specificity) email alerts that come directly to your inbox whenever something new hits the market that matches your search criteria.

While it’s not quite as organized as automatically plugging data into a tidy Google Spreadsheet, it’s still a feasible way to keep an eye on things from your inbox and simply clicking on the items that are of interest.

If you’re going to search for deals like this, do it daily and stay on top of your leads. These listings are constantly turning over, with new opportunities showing up each day that weren’t there before. If you expect any success with this, you need to take the process seriously.

Develop a system (even if it’s just a spreadsheet) to keep track of which listings you’ve contacted – and try not to overcomplicate it!

Lastly, remember to follow-up. Don’t just take the one-and-done approach, contact people multiple two or three times before you move on.

Many sellers will ignore or overlook the first inquiry that comes in, but when it comes in again and again, it becomes much harder to miss or ignore. The gold is in the follow-up.

Another way to make motivated sellers come to you (rather than searching for them) is to start posting “housing wanted” ads.

This works great for sites like Craigslist and can even work on Facebook Marketplace and certain Facebook Groups (when the rules allow for it).

Posting ads is pretty easy. It’s just a matter of figuring out where these ads need to be posted on whichever platform you’re using, and then typing out a clear, compelling message explaining that you’re a real estate investor who can close quickly, can (preferably) pay cash and then let them know how to contact you and/or where to submit their property information if they want to receive an offer.

I’ve included a few examples you can work with below (all the images were created on Canva using free stock images from Unsplash). These can be used both on Craigslist (post in the “Housing Wanted” section) and on Facebook (post a “HOUSES WANTED!” ad for a price of $1 in the Home Sales category, and include a picture and a short description of what you’re doing).

In terms of what to say in your ads and images, here are some examples to work with…

Example 1 (Long Version)

Title:

We Buy Houses FAST for CASH!

Description:

Do you own a house you don’t want or can’t afford?

Does selling it sound like a hassle?

WE CAN HELP!

Our company offers fast cash for houses and multi-family properties throughout <<State, County or City>> – including (but not limited to) these areas:

– Area 1

– Area 2

– Area 3

If you need help selling your real estate quickly, WE WANT TO BUY IT NOW AND WE’RE PREPARED TO PAY CASH FOR IT.

Our firm has been in business for over ten years and we have many happy clients who were happy to have cash instead of the burden of an unwanted property.

If this sounds like you, reach out and let us know!

Once we hear from you, we’ll send you a link to this page: <<your website>>, where you can submit your property information. Once we have a look at your property, we will send you a cash offer within 48 hours.

Alternatively, you can call our office at: <<your phone number>> to speak with someone directly about the property you’d like to sell.

Advantages of working with us:

– You won’t pay for any agents or commissions

– We will cover the cost of all repairs. We buy AS-IS

– Back due property taxes or liens? Let us pay for them!

– Don’t worry about cleaning your property.

– Simple, fast and straightforward process

– We will close on YOUR timeline!

We hope to hear from you!

Example 2 (Short Version)

Title:

Need Help Selling Your Property?

Description:

We buy houses FAST and for CASH. It doesn’t matter what kind of condition, size shape or location the property is in – we will consider all properties. 

We have been in business in <<City/Area>> for many years and we have worked with all kinds of property owners who were happy to have cash instead of their unwanted property.

Give us a call or visit our website so we can send you our offer today!

Call <<Insert Name>> at <<Phone Number>>

or visit our website at <<Website URL>>

You can obviously use these examples above – but honestly, it’s not rocket science (and if you search around for other investors on Craigslist, you’ll probably find some great examples you can get inspiration from).

Tip: I usually try to include at least one image with these posts (even if you don’t go through the motions of layering words ontop of it, you can find tons of great options from Unsplash.com) because it helps with SEO and will make your ads appear in more search results.

Even though these ads can result in some new leads coming your way, don’t expect the floodgates to open when you post ads like this.

If you have no existing stream of leads coming your way, I think this kind of ad posting strategy is worth doing (simply because it’s free and it’s easy), but it’s also not the most high-impact.

A lot of motivated sellers AREN’T actively searching for these kinds of ads on Craiglist and Facebook, and you’ll probably encounter plenty of other investors posting similar ads in your market… so it can be a challenge to stand out, so don’t be surprised if you only get a few legitimate responses to these kinds of ads each month.

And remember – wherever you’re sending these people, make sure you (or someone) is actually paying attention to that channel. As obvious as it may sound, there are a ton of people who spend time on this kind of free advertising and then don’t follow up with people who respond to it (it’s a total waste).

If you’re going to do the first half of the process (by posting an ad), make sure you’re also doing the second half (by following up).

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