|Should I sell on Craigslist? | Pros and cons | Alternative options | Step-by-step guide | Tips and advice | Scams and safety | Vetting buyers | FAQs|
✍️ KEY TAKEAWAYS
- Posting a house FSBO on Craigslist is free, easy, and requires no commitment.
- Traditional buyers and agents are more likely to look on the local MLS and other real estate websites for houses.
- Craigslist is generally a better fit for sellers with distressed homes or investment properties.
- Investors and bargain hunters usually provide non-contingent, all-cash offers but probably won’t pay top dollar.
- Craigslist has a scammer problem, and sifting through spam may take a lot of time and effort.
- Selling FSBO is difficult and not for everyone.
When you’re selling a home for sale by owner — aka FSBO — your options for listing your property are limited since you won’t have access to your local multiple listing service (MLS). Many cost-savvy FSBO sellers choose to sell a house on Craigslist, because the website allows you to post your listing for free.
Selling a house on Craigslist isn’t right for everyone, but there are certainly opportunities if you know the types of buyers who use Craigslist and how to make an eye-catching listing.
And if you’ve decided to sell your house FSBO in an effort to bypass realtor fees, advertising on Craigslist can be an attractive option.
For most sellers, though, the best way to pay less in realtor fees is by working with a low commission real estate company. A company like Clever Real Estate can allow you to save thousands on the sale of your home — while providing you with full service and support from a local agent. Find a top agent in your area today!
Should I sell a house on Craigslist?
Selling real estate on Craigslist works for some home sellers — but it’s not ideal for everyone.
Craigslist is best for sellers who:
- Are looking to sell their property without spending on listing agent fees
- Have a distressed or fixer-upper property that would appeal to investors or bargain hunters
- Understand and are familiar with the for FSBO process
- Don’t mind vetting buyers and dealing with spam messages or tire kickers
- Would rather sell an unwanted property fast than for top dollar
Selling a home on Craigslist probably isn’t a good fit for sellers who:
- Aren’t familiar with the FSBO process
- Are already struggling to sell their property on traditional sites and could benefit more from professional help
- Want to save money on commission while still getting a good sales price (there are better alternatives for this, like flat fee MLS packages or discount brokerages)
If you don’t think the FSBO process is right for you and still want to save thousands on commission fees, consider going with a low commission real estate brokerage.
The best choice for most sellers is Clever Real Estate. Clever will match you with a full-service agent who will do all the home-selling work for you — and in exchange, they charge a 1.5% listing fee instead of the typical 2.5–3% that most realtors charge. Find top local agents and get a 1.5% listing fee today!
Pros of selling your house on Craigslist
- Fast, easy, and free — It doesn’t cost anything to post on Craigslist, and it just takes a few minutes.
- You have full listing control — Unlike with a traditional flat fee MLS service, you don’t need to ask your broker for a tweak or pay a fee for each change.
- There’s no commitment — Feel like taking your house off the market? Delete the listing. Without an agent, there’s no listing agreement to worry about.
- You’ll reach buyers looking for a quick sale — There’s a built-in pool of cash buyers and investors looking for fixer-uppers and distressed homes on Craigslist.
- No seller’s agent commission — You’ll be handling the sale on your own, so you won’t need to pay an agent to represent you. Plus, if you find an unrepresented buyer, you can avoid paying a buyer’s agent commission, which could save you even more money.
Cons of selling your house on Craigslist
- Limited visability — Most buyers and agents use sites (like realtor.com) that pull from MLSes. With Craigslist, only people visiting the site will see your listing.
- You’ll have to vet buyers — It’s up to you to separate out the window shoppers and unqualified buyers from the serious offers.
- Unsolicited calls — Some agents trawl FSBO listings and contact sellers, hoping to win over their business.
- Outdated search features and interface — Bigger sites are easier to use and easier on the eyes.
- Scams and spam — Craigslist is notorious for attracting scammers.
- Lowball offers — Craigslist isn’t where buyers search for luxury properties. The site attracts investors and bargain hunters.
Alternatives to selling real estate on Craigslist
|Inexpensive MLS access||Flat fee MLS companies|
|Affordable expert help||Discount brokers|
|Offloading unwanted houses quickly||"We buy houses" companies|
|Convenient sales of market-ready homes||iBuyers|
|Free options||Other FSBO websites|
Flat fee MLS companies
You can’t get on the MLS without an agent. When you use a flat fee MLS company, a licensed broker will post your home on the local MLS for $299–399 and syndicate that listing to larger sites like Zillow and realtor.com.
Some flat fee MLS companies offer more services, like help with the closing paperwork, but that comes at an additional cost.
With most basic packages support will be limited. You’ll be doing most of the heavy lifting to sell FSBO.
A good discount brokerage will provide sellers with a full-service agent while saving them on commission. However, every discount broker has its own fee structure and can vary in the quality of service sellers receive. Be sure to weigh all your options to find the best fit for your situation.
“We Buy Houses” companies
“We Buy Houses” companies buy dilapidated and distressed houses. They’re quick and pay cash, but they’ll only pay 50–70% of the home’s after repair value (ARV).
There are many different companies with this business model. Research the ones near you to see if they’re legit, and always have a contract reviewed by a lawyer.
iBuyers are real estate tech companies that make reasonable offers on homes in good shape and close sales quickly.
However, iBuyers also charge service fees that are comparable to agent commission. Additionally, iBuyers only operate in select areas, and your house may not even qualify if they do operate in your location.
» LEARN: The Best iBuyer Companies
Other FSBO websites
There are better FSBO websites out there than Craigslist, although some of them cost money or only operate in certain areas.
We researched the best FSBO websites on the internet and ranked them — Craigslist came in second-to-last place.
How to sell a house on Craigslist: Step-by-step guide
Click “Get Started” to see how to post a home on Craigslist
- Select “create a posting” on the main page.
- Select “housing offered” (not “for sale by owner”).
- Select “real estate – by owner”
- Write your listing (get tips here).
- Use the dropdown menus to include the property type, number of beds and bathrooms, etc.
- You can set dates for an open house or a future date when the home will officially be on the market. Neither are required.
- Check the location
- If you don’t input an exact address, you’ll be shown a general zone.
- Upload your pictures.
- You can upload up to 24 images (pro tip: use PNG or JPEG files). Large images will be automatically resized to 600 by 450 pixels.
- The first image is the featured one; you can drag and drop their order.
- Review your listing and publish.
- Check your email and confirm
- This is important — if you don’t confirm, your listing won’t post!
Tips for selling a house on Craigslist
|Pricing your home | What investors pay | Taking photos | Writing a home listing | Writing an investment listing | Scams and safety | Vetting buyers | Disclosure laws|
Know what your house is worth
Knowing your home’s value as a FSBO seller is one of the biggest challenges you’ll face. Price too high, and you won’t find a buyer. Price too low, and you’ll cheat yourself of a good deal. And, let’s face it, Craigslist is full of buyers looking for a steal.
Here’s how to accurately price your house without an agent:
- Use a home value estimator. You’ll get a ballpark price for your house, but it’s not going to be accurate — you’ll need to do additional work.
- Run your own comparable market analysis, also known as comps. Find recently sold (within a few months), comparable properties in similar conditions and with similar features. Note that if your home is in disrepair, it could be more difficult to accurately price the property.
- Pay for an appraisal. This is the easiest and most accurate method, although it will cost $200–500 or more depending on the property.
|🛠 After Repair Value|
|Investors typically offer no more than 70% of a home's after repair value (ARV). |
So if an investor believes a house is worth $250,000 after it's been repaired but needs $10,000 worth of work, they would offer a maximum of $165,000 ($250,000 x 0.70 - $10,000 = $165,000).
» MORE: How Much Will an Investor Pay for My House?
💸 Did you know? Research shows that the median FSBO home sells for 18.2% less than the median agent-assisted home. That cancels out commission savings — and then some.
With our friends at Clever Real Estate, you’ll get a full service agent to help you sell your home for top dollar — while paying a low 1.5% listing fee. Find a top local agent and save thousands on commission fees!
Take honest photos
It costs an average of $165 to have your home professionally photographed — and it can help your house sell faster and for more money. But if you don’t want to spend the cash, just try to do better than what’s already on Craigslist. Follow these tips:
- Take photos on a sunny day.
- Declutter and clean.
- Open all the blinds and drapes.
- Take wide-angle shots of the front of the house, the bedrooms, kitchen, and living room.
Take lots of photos and select the best ones — you can feature up to 24 photos on Craigslist when selling your house.
|📷 Tips for taking photos of fixer-uppers and distressed properties|
|You don’t need glamorous photos for these homes. You’re targeting investors, so the photos mainly need to show the home’s condition, warts and all. Show potential investors what they’ll need to fix, but also showcase what’s still good.|
Write a listing that speaks to your buyers
Tailor your listing to the type of buyer that will be interested in your property. Investors are looking for different information than a traditional home buyer.
Here are some tips for writing a listing on Craigslist:
- Don’t lie or exaggerate. If there are any hidden surprises, like a shared driveway, include that information.
- Check for spelling and grammar. You can use a free online tool like Grammarly.
- Write “no real estate agents” to avoid working with a buyer’s agent. It should cut down on unsolicited calls from agents looking to represent you and buyers who have an agent.
- Use the “available on” section to set a future date for when you’re taking offers. The idea here is to accumulate enough interest, get a whole bunch of offers at once, and encourage a bidding war. However, this will only work if the market is hot and the property is desirable.
Traditional buyers are would-be homeowners who probably don’t want to do serious rehab work. Here are some tips for attracting their attention:
- For the title, you’ll want to write something specific that stands out. Don’t just write “house for sale.” Instead, write “Historic Craftsman with amazing kitchen near Mid City.” There is a 70 character limit in titles, but the price, number of bedrooms, and square footage will automatically be included no matter what.
- Highlight any updates, renovations, and features you love.
- Is the home close to good schools? Great food? A local attraction? Include it.
One of the disadvantages to listing on Craigslist is its lackluster search feature, so make a point to include everything notable. You can just list out highlights: “Has covered porch, big windows, home office, garage, built-in bookshelves,” etc.
Here’s an example of a good listing to attract traditional buyers:
Also, remember that Craigslist is rife with scams, so make your listing look authentic so you don’t scare off potential buyers.
- Don’t ask people to text you a code word.
- Post lots of photos.
- Include a walk-through video. You can post a plaintext link (meaning non-clickable) in your Craigslist ad, redirecting buyers to a place like YouTube or Google Drive.
One of the advantages of selling a house on Craigslist is the large pool of investors.
In the title, make it clear what kind of property it is — use words like “fix and flip,” “distressed,” “short sale,” “investment opportunity,” etc., as well as a general location.
Don’t shy away from any issues the home has. Include major problems in the listing, as well as its highlights — “has a solid foundation and good roof but needs a new HVAC and flooded last year.”
For searchers, include words like “as-is,” “condemned,” “buy and hold,” “repairs,” “fast” “equity” “handyman” and “rental.” Here’s a good example:
Check out the “housing wanted” section
Some people post “wanted” ads for houses, which can be an opportunity to find buyers.
Go to your local Craigslist, and on the front page, click “housing wanted” under the “housing” section. Select “house” from the “housing type” drop-down menu on the left-hand side and start looking for potential buyers.
If you find multiple investors or “we buy houses” companies, meet with them individually and compare offers.
How to sell your house safely on Craigslist
Craigslist is notorious for being a scammer’s playground. Plus, there are a lot of window shoppers, so it’s important to be able to spot real offers.
Avoid “buyers” who:
- Won’t give their full name or number.
- Ask for a deposit of any kind.
- Insist on using a particular online escrow company (fake escrow companies are a real issue)
- Give you a check without a good reason — it could be fake.
- Send messages from odd-looking email addresses or international numbers.
- Query you with vague messages full of spelling errors.
- Include links in their email or texts — they’re probably phishing.
- Try to get you to send them your mortgage payment at a “reduced” rate. They’re mortgage relief scammers.
Protect your identity
- Use the proxy Craigslist email address provided and remove identifying information from your email signature.
- Don’t give out any financial information, like your bank account number.
- Never sign a contract without reading it thoroughly. We highly recommend paying a real estate attorney to review and draft the contracts.
- You don’t need to plug in your home’s exact address on Craigslist. You can provide it once the buyer is vetted.
|🚨 Be safe! Don’t show your home alone. Bring a friend or family member when meeting buyers and keep your phone close.|
Ask for proof of financing and earnest money
Traditional buyers using a mortgage should show you pre-approval letters, or at the very least, proof of prequalification.
For cash buyers, you’ll want a proof of funds letter — a signed statement from the bank saying they have the money to close the deal.
Serious buyers will offer earnest money. This is typically 1–3% of the purchase price, but it can be as high as 10% in some markets. If the buyer backs out of the sale without the proper contingencies, they forfeit the earnest money.
|❗ Don’t hold the deposit yourself! Use a third party like an escrow agent or title company to handle the funds. If the deal falls through, you don’t want to get into a legal quagmire.|
Know your state’s disclosure laws and legal requirements
In many states, you’re required to have a real estate lawyer present at closing, so budget for that if you’ll need or want an attorney. But if you choose to forgo legal help, you’ll need to understand your state’s disclosure laws and legal requirements.
Disclosure laws vary by state, with some being more stringent than others. However, most states require sellers to disclose known and significant problems, like prior flooding events, boundary disputes, or foundational defects.
If you’re selling a house built before 1978, you have to comply with the federal Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992. That applies to all sellers, regardless of state.
Check your state’s disclosure laws and consult with an attorney if you have questions. Remember, failure to comply with disclosure laws can be grounds for serious legal trouble — don’t try to wing it!
Rethinking listing your home on Craigslist?
If listing your home on Craigslist — or selling without an agent in general — is feeling overwhelming, you can always turn to a professional. The for sale by owner route takes up a lot of time, can be incredibly stressful, and often is less profitable.
Since a Craigslist post is free and can be removed whenever it’s easy to change course if listing on the site ends up being a bad fit for your situation. You have other options that will provide professional support and still save you money on listing commissions.
One of the best options for sellers who are looking to save is to work with a low commission real estate company. Our friends at Clever will match you with top local agents in your area, and pre-negotiate low commission fees on your behalf.
Interview as many agents as you want until you find the right fit — or walk away at any time with no obligation.
Is selling your house on Craigslist free?
It's free to sell a house on Craigslist. However, your property will only be seen by people who use Craigslist — and the buyer pool is mostly property investors.
The best way to find a potential buyer is by posting your home to the MLS with the help of a real estate agent. Learn more about the best low commission real estate agents near you.
Is selling a house on Craigslist worth it?
If you're selling your house for sale by owner (FSBO), Craigslist can be a helpful tool to try and attract more buyers. But Craigslist works best if you're targeting investors or cash buyers, and these buyers may not be willing to pay full price for your home.
For sellers who want to get top dollar for their homes, a better option is to list with a traditional real estate agent. A professional realtor will be able to market your home using your local multiple listing service (MLS), ensuring that your listing reaches the most potential buyers in your area.
Is selling a house on Craigslist safe?
There are definitely scams on Craigslist. Keep your personal information private and take the necessary precautions when inviting a stranger into your home. If you're careful, you should be fine.
Can I sell my house on Craigslist while a realtor is also selling it?
If you have signed a contract with an agent, you can ask them to post your home to Craigslist — but they may recommend against it. And know if you have an agent and find a buyer via Craigslist, you'll still owe that agent the agreed-upon listing commission at closing. Learn more about how to negotiate realtor fees.