Selling your house on Craigslist – A Buyer’s Perspective

If you have decided to sell your house on Craigslist … good on you!  Craigslist in my mind is how the savvy home seller sells their house.  If you’re really good, you can totally forgo the real estate agent and save yourself 6% of the sale price.

Now, let’s say you’re going to sell your house yourself and not use an agent.  Remember, for all I rag on real estate agents, using an agent to sell your house is not NEARLY as much of a waste of money as hiring one when you’re buying a house.  Reason being, a seller’s agent (if they’re any good at what they do) actually does a fair amount of work listing and marketing your house.  By selling your house on Craigslist, you’re going to have to take a large amount of this work on yourself.

So, as someone who has bought numerous houses on Craigslist, and sold one that way as well (see this post for the ad I wrote to sell that house), here are my tips for attracting buyers:

1.  Take good pictures and use as many as possible

Remember, people do not want to waste their time visiting a house if they’re not at least somewhat interested in actually buying it.  If there is not at least a picture of a house, I won’t even consider pursuing the house.  If there is a single picture … maybe.  To come across as a legitimate seller though, I would recommend using at least 8.  (Craigslist allows up to 24 now which could be a little excessive).  The time taken to take those pictures is time well spent and it is something that you would be paying an agent thousands of dollars to do.

2.  Don’t take pictures of nondescript rooms

Sure, you want to get pictures of all the rooms which is cool generally except when the room is empty and you take a picture of the corner.  Nobody cares that your rooms do in fact have corners and showing someone a picture of a room corner will do absolutely nothing to sell your house.  All rooms have corners.  Instead, take more than one picture of the actual selling points of your house.  Focus on the kitchen, or bathrooms, or deck, or yard, whatever you want to draw attention to.

3.  Take pictures in the summer

Summer pictures simply have a better aura about them than winter pictures.  People like summer and people are more drawn to pictures of a house in the summer.

4.  Put the property address in the ad

Potential buyers like to drive by houses before they commit to even calling the seller.  Some folks are concerned about putting their home address in a Craigslist ad which is certainly understandable but consider this, if you put your house for sale on the MLS through an agent, the address will be there too.  If you can’t put the exact address, at least put the street or general area.  If I can’t get a good picture of where a house is located, I’m not going to pursue buying it.

5.  Specify if agents can be involved

Once you list your house on Craigslist, you will inevitably start to get calls from real estate agents asking you if you want them to list your house.  I have found that not clicking the “ok for others to contact you about other services, products, or commercial” interests doesn’t always keep the young and energetic upstarts from calling and asking if I want them to list my house.  As you can imagine, this bothers me to no end.  So much so that I specifically state in the ad that I do not want agents to call me.  I will also state that if the buyer wants to use an agent, then they will have to pay the commission themselves, in effect raising the sale price to compensate for the 3% that a real estate agent would charge.

6.  Know your potential buyers

This might sound obvious but when you post a house for sale on Craigslist,  ACTUALLY SELL THE HOUSE!  Don’t just say the basics, get into details on how great the house is.  Talk to your buyers.  Know what they like and take some time to think about why they would want to move to your neighborhood.  Is is the suburbs?  Talk about how much space there is and how great it is grilling on the deck.  City?  Talk about how short their commute will be and how everything is withing walking distance.  Get the buyer thinking about what they will do when they live in the house.  Big kitchen?  Lot’s of storage space?  Buying and selling real estate outside of the realm of Realtors is really a relationship-based event and should be treated as such.  Your ad in Craigslist is the beginning of a relationship with a buyer that will last for several month if they end up buying the house and possibly years if you end up selling the house on a land contract or lease-to-own arrangement.

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