Free – Not all it’s cracked up to be (or the downfall of Craigslist)

Internet savvy consumers are always looking for the Next Best Thing that’s supposed to revolutionize the way they do business.  One such Game Changer that hit the stage a few years ago was Craigslist.  This great bulletin-board style trading post offered a way to sell anything from concert tickets, junk from your attic, all the way to real estate.

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Up until Craigslist made its debut in Chicago, the most popular “Alternative Media” outlet for renting out your apartment or posting your By-Owner real estate ad was an ad in the Chicago Reader. 


And for the following years, Craigslist was, indeed, a great tool for advertising real estate, especially apartments for rent. 

Real estate agents were terrified that the Internet, and Craigslist in particular, with its free and easy platform for reaching masses of Internet Empowered Consumers, would end the world as we know it.

As any poster of ads on Craigslist has noticed, lately, the relevance of the site as an outlet for useful real estate information has plummeted.

Joe at YoChicago notes:

Craigslist has become … almost totally dysfunctional as a way to find an apartment in Chicago.

Nearly 2,800 apartments ads were posted [on a typical day in August, 2009] on Craigslist. 650 of those (round numbers) came from Homescout and another 450 (round numbers) from the scammers in this post. The great majority of the rest also came from a small number of rental “services.”

As long as I’ve been around this industry the maggots have systematically set out to destroy the utility of any site or publication that draws an audience of rental prospects. They’ve succeeded, in my take, at destroying Craigslist.

Your Guide has found it infuriatingly difficult to post property information in the past few weeks as the Craigslist interface grinds to a halt during the input process.  The site inexplicably hangs for minutes at a time, often timing out causing me to have to start the process all over again.  Most of the time, I simply give up.

This week, the bulk upload interface that Craigslist offers to heavy advertisers stopped working, halting the upload for our company listing information in its tracks.  We haven’t heard whether a fix will be offered, or if the system has finally collapsed under the weight of all the junk postings being submitted.

In Real Estate Advertising, as in Life, it seems you get what you pay for.

And another New Paradigm seems to bite the dust.


4 Responses to “Free – Not all it’s cracked up to be (or the downfall of Craigslist)”

  • mac:

    can’t help but notice you have THOUSANDS of unread emails in that pic! lol

  • Thanks for visiting, Mac. Hah! Thanks for noticing my Gmail in-box. No, I use my Gmail to duplicate what’s happening in my Outlook. Seems to work better with my Blackberry. Plus, I’m not quite that good at saving everything. On the other hand, everything goes into that Gmail account, and I never lose anything. Rest assured, I don’t ignore emails – you potential customers.

  • Jerry:

    I’ve complained to CL several times about these apartment services spamming. They have really ruined CL. The biggest problems is that they post every single Chicago neighborhood in each one of their ads so if a user is doing a search for a Wicker Park apartment then they get hundreds of ads for apartments that are located EVERYWHERE.

  • Dan:

    Craigslist has some noise on it, no doubt about that, but user’s of the site quickly learn to spot scams once the emails start flying back and forth.

    I have personally rented two apartments through craigslist and will continue to use it as part of my overall marketing strategy. It should not be the only place that a landlord places an available unit to rent. Craigslist combined with other resouces for posting a unit, such as the MLS, is a great way to get the word out.

    Finally, don’t forget the FOR RENT sign in the front yard. That is still the best way to acquire a renter.

Your Guide
Your Guide

Robert Darrow

In Chicago:
3101 N. Greenview
Chicago, IL, 60657
(312) 965-1552

In South Florida:
Keller Williams Realty
3696 N. Federal Highway
Ft. Lauderdale, FL, 33308
(954) 446-9001
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