How to generate real estate wholesale leads with Craigslist

Wholesalers and inventors! You need Leads!

It’s the fuel of your business. And with all the SMS and cold calling regulations lots of investors and real estate wholesalers are struggling to find consistent elad gen sources. While there are a lot of ways to find discounted properties… an underlooked method is right under your nose:


An old-school method of finding deals that shouldn’t be overlooked.

There are still deals here. It’s just a matter of method and consistency.

So in this article, we’ll go over how it works

What is Craigslist

Craigslist is like a big online bulletin board (classified ads) where people can post ads for all sorts of things, including houses and apartments for sale or rent. Real estate investors, like those who want to buy houses to fix them up or sell them to someone else, can use Craigslist to find good deals. It’s a simple way for them to see lots of options in one place without having to go out and look for “For Sale” signs.

Are there deals in Craiglist?

Yes, but don’t solely rely on it. It takes very little time to do the activity and it’s a SUPPLEMENT to the rest of your lead generation activities like making offers on the MLS, cold calling, door knocking, etc.

Why find deals on Craigslist?

In the quest for lucrative real estate deals, time and money are the twin engines that drive your business forward. Craigslist emerges as a compelling avenue for lead generation, blending the best of both worlds by offering cost-effective solutions that only demand a slice of your time. It’s a platform where the currency is not just the greenback, but the minutes and hours you invest.

Consider Craigslist as an integral part of your “lead gen activity” plan, a weekly ritual that can potentially yield high returns. The beauty of Craigslist lies in its simplicity and accessibility; posting ads and browsing listings are free, making it an invaluable resource for those ready to roll up their sleeves and dive into the fray. The challenge for many investors isn’t finding the right deals but making enough offers. Herein lies the golden opportunity: Craigslist can be your conduit to reach motivated sellers, enabling you to cast a wider net with your offers.

By incorporating Craigslist into your routine, you create a steady stream of potential deals. It’s about persistence, making those offers consistently, and refining your approach based on responses and market feedback. Remember, in the world of real estate wholesaling, your best deals might just be one well-placed ad or one insightful conversation away. Craigslist isn’t just a marketplace; it’s a platform that, with the right strategy, can become a cornerstone of your lead generation efforts.

Two ways to find real estate deals on Craigslist

Diving into the bustling world of Craigslist can unlock a plethora of opportunities for real estate wholesalers. It’s all about strategy and a keen eye for spotting those under-the-radar deals. Let’s explore two fundamental approaches to navigate this platform effectively:

1. Posting Ads for Free: This method is all about making your presence known. By posting well-crafted, attention-grabbing ads, you can attract potential sellers directly to you. Think of it as setting up a digital “We Buy Houses” sign, inviting homeowners who are looking to sell quickly or without the hassle of traditional real estate processes. The key here is clarity and simplicity in your message, ensuring it resonates with your target audience.

2. Browsing and Making Offers: For the more proactive wholesaler, Craigslist is a goldmine of listings waiting to be sifted through. This approach requires diligence and the ability to act swiftly. You’re on the hunt for listings that could potentially be wholesaled, analyzing each for profitability and feasibility. Once a potential deal is spotted, the next step is reaching out to the seller with an enticing offer, showcasing your expertise and readiness to close quickly.

Both strategies hinge on consistency and a bit of creativity, turning Craigslist from a mere listing platform into a dynamic lead-generation engine for your wholesaling business.

Method 1: Posting on Craigslist

Unlocking the potential of Craigslist for real estate wholesaling is akin to mastering a simple yet powerful daily ritual. Here’s how it breaks down:

Posting a New Ad in Various Categories: Diversification is key. Spread your ads across different categories relevant to real estate, such as ‘For Sale by Owner’, ‘Real Estate Services’, and even ‘Wanted: Real Estate’. This broad approach increases your visibility, reaching various segments of potential sellers.

Maintaining a Steady Flow: Consistency wins the race. Aim to post 3-5 ads daily. This steady stream ensures your presence is always felt, keeping you top of mind for potential sellers browsing the site.

Renewing Old Posts: Every ad has a lifespan, but that doesn’t mean its journey ends there. Posts older than 30 days can be renewed, giving them a fresh lease on life and keeping your listings up-to-date and visible.

Rinse and Repeat: Establish this process as part of your daily routine. Investing a mere 15 minutes a day can yield significant returns. Over time, you’ll amass a library of ads, making the renewal/reposting process even more streamlined.

Adopting this approach transforms Craigslist from a mere listing platform to a dynamic lead-generation tool, requiring minimal time investment for maximal potential gains.

Which categories to post in

When navigating the vast landscape of Craigslist for real estate lead generation, choosing the right categories for your ads is crucial. Here’s a streamlined approach to ensure your posts find their intended audience without running afoul of Craigslist’s posting policies:

Directly Related Real Estate Categories: Stick primarily to categories where potential sellers are likely to visit. ‘Real Estate for Sale’, ‘Real Estate Services’, and ‘Housing Wanted’ are prime spots. These categories are frequented by those actively looking to sell or seeking services related to real estate, making them ideal for your ads.

Creative, Yet Relevant Categories: Sometimes, motivated sellers browse outside of typical real estate categories. Consider where your target audience might be looking. For instance, ‘Financial Services’ can be a smart choice for those seeking solutions to financial challenges, possibly including selling their property. However, tread carefully; relevance is key. Your ad should always maintain a clear connection to real estate to avoid being flagged.

Remember, the effectiveness of your Craigslist ad campaign hinges not just on the message, but also on placing that message where it’s most likely to be seen by the right eyes. Adhere to Craigslist’s guidelines to ensure your ads remain active, reaching those motivated sellers who are just waiting for the right offer.

How to create a post

While this section won’t be on the TECHNICALS of creating an ad — Craigslist has a great walk through on their site here — We’ll walk you through the dynamics of a good post.

What attracts a seller

In this order below, you want to work on these three items:

  1. The image
  2. The title/headline
  3. The description

The image

Typically people use generic stock photos. These are OK (they’re better than nothing), but real photos or designed images work best.

1. Using a stock photo (not as attention-grabbing but quick to make):

NOTE: Make sure you get copyright-free or royalty free photos. You CAN and will easily get sued for using someone’s image without approval. Use sites like “Unsplash” to get copyright-free photos.

2. Design an image (Better than stock, a little slower to create)

Here’s an example:

3. Your own photo:

This works great. Do you have a photo of yourself holding a sign saying “I’ll buy your house in 14 days”?
It speaks volume when it’s a real person behind the business. People are skeptical of these Craigslist ads. So breaking this is the first part of creating a great ad. And you do with personal photos.

The Title

Keep it simple but target ONE individual you have in mind. Remember you’re creating MANY ads. So have each ad target one individual.

For example:

“We buy houses with tenants” (targeting landlords needing to sell).

“We buy houses and you can leave all your unwanted things behind” (Targeting hoarder houses).

The Description:

This is more “copywriting 101” and there are lots of resources and books on copywriting. but the biggest tip for you are these:

  1. Write at a 5th-grade reading level.
  2. Write conversationally.
  3. Talk about the pains of selling and then the solution you offer.

Method 2: Browsing for deals on Craigslist

This is something you can do everyday for 30 minutes a day.

It’s simple:

Search for properties being listed, call/text/email/MAIL (Using our one-off handwritten mailers). all the above and make and offer.

It’s that simple, and people over complicate this. The point of lead gen is to make offers. The more good offers you make to the right people, the more likely you are to find a deal.

Here are some videos explaining method #2:

Here’s another video with a hack on finding motivated sellers:

Biggest tip to making Craigslist work:

Drum roll please!





Many quit after a few days.

It can take months of posting sometimes.

Yes, I know that sounds discouraging… but what’s the real effort in this? Taking 1 hour every day? Of clicking a few buttons? Beats digging holes. Put this as part of your lead gen (weekly) strategy.

Make it a part of your plan.

Many fail because they don’t have a plan and they don’t stick with it.

Use Mail as an addition to Craigslist

We’re experts in direct mail for real estate investors.

And it’s our top choice (we’re investors too!) for finding motivated leads.

On top of your Craigslist strategy, throw mail on top.

We’ve got handwritten mailers for every budget.

For smaller budgets we recommend our “We’ll buy your house” Postcard:

Spread the Word. Share this post!

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