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Making Craigslist Less Painful


Across multifamily, 72% of communities currently use Craigslist.  Unfortunately, Craigslist tends to be a time-consuming and tricky platform, taking precious time that leasing consultants could be spending elsewhere.  Therefore, we asked Kitty Callaghan, Vice President of Marketing at Wasatch Property Management, to share how they tackled Craigslist!  Below, she shares how they went from managing Craigslist for 50 properties using an Excel spreadsheet to automating the process using Rooof’s PostEngine tool.

By the way, if you like this type of content where we talk with different property management pros, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel and click the bell icon!

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Massive Change to Facebook Marketplace: Rentals Are Now Here

Facebook  Facebook Marketplace Rentals vs. Craigslist! ...and your ILS. Oh, and maybe even Google too.  Facebook Marketplace Rentals just happened. And it's about to get real for Craigslist first, but also Internet Listing Services (ILS). Heck, Facebook could even bite into Google's piece of the pie if users really go for it.   First, let's back up a bit. If you're an owner/property manages of a small to mid sized portfolio, then you needed to get the best return on their small marketing budget. So Craigslist, being free (and pretty clunky), was an obvious initial go-to option for many.  But Craigslist can take a lot of time, and depending on your target demographic, maybe didn’t even return that many quality leads. Then you got entangled with a pricey ILS contract. Hopefully that's doing something useful for you. And now you've heard about advertising on Google and on Facebook. But which would work better for you?  It used to be a no brainer for us.We'd pick Google for your budget first every time. That's because the difference between the two is that Facebook is "interest" based and Google is "intent" based.  Interest vs. Intent and Why it Matters If you're looking for a Mexican restaurant or a new dentist - you went to Google or Google Maps.  That's intent. (It's also making me hungry for tacos and slightly nervous to make that appointment I need) Facebook was just for expressing which movies, books, sports, etc. you loved. That’s interest. Most people who ......
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Trending Up: Social Media, Email Marketing, and Pay Per Click Advertising | Trending Down: Craigslist Ads?

We recently released our 2017 Apartment Marketing Strategies Report that surveyed marketing pros throughout multifamily about their strategies.  One of the questions we asked was the use of several marketing strategies, including social media, email marketing, pay per click advertising, and Craigslist, as well as their marketing budget overall.  Here are some trends based upon responses by 111 marketing professionals:

 

Craigslist is an interesting topic, in that it was the hot marketing location 4+ years ago, but then spiraled downward following changes to the Craigslist platform.  In fact, many people had left Craigslist for dead, but at the NAA Education Conference and Expo, Lauren Curley, Chief Operating Officer of Bonaventure Realty Group, stated that Craigslist is still an excellent driver of leases.  She then posted a response on this forum post with great data:  Questions on Craigslist Posting

So what is your take?  Is Craigslist still dying, or were we too quick to call a time of death?  Share your experiences with Craigslist in the comments below!

Also, if you would like access to the full marketing research report with loads more data on virtual reality, remarketing strategies, marketing budgets, marketing metrics, and more, you can download the full report for free here (must be logged in)  > >  What are the latest trends in apartment marketing for 2017?

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Marketing Your Property: The Ins And Outs of Popular Posting Websites

Marketing Your Property: The Ins And Outs of Popular Posting Websites
Over the past decade or more, property listing websites have come to replace more traditional forms of marketing your property such as in the classifieds section of the newspaper.  The internet has made it faster and easier for listings to be marketed and found.  There are a lot of options out there for the property owner to decide on.  What are the best places on the web to market your property?  Here’s the breakdown:       Zillow Pros: ·         Beneficial for single-family home sales. ·         Beneficial for multifamily apartments for rent. ·         Includes a map for finding listings. ·         Beneficial to both higher-end and lower-end rentals. ·         It’s free to post listings. ·         Shows the neighboring competitors’ rents. ·         Allows you to see current real estate activity in the neighborhood of the property. ·         Detailed information on the property and the community. ·         The mobile app is rated very highly. Cons: ·         The Rent “Zestimate” could estimate lower than what you are attempting to rent your property for because it doesn’t take in consideration upgrades, finishes, levels, and/or add-ons. ·         Data that is included in Zillow is often out of date.   Craigslist Pros: ·         Especially beneficial for apartment rentals. ·         It’s free to post listings. ·         A map is included for finding the rentals. ·         Great for student housing. Cons: ·         For the most part Craigslist is only beneficial to lower end rentals ($2,000 or less). ·         Craigslist is well known for having spammers.   Trulia Pros: ·         Very beneficial for Single family home sales. ......
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Legal Buzz over Craigslist Posting Tools

Legal Buzz over Craigslist Posting Tools
In case recent changes to Craigslist’s posting policy weren’t enough, a sudden tweak to it’s terms of use has put the industry on high-alert over the legality of posting tools. Craigslist added breakdown of monetary penalties against violators escalating to as much as $25k, which would be a serious problem for operators if this applied to all Craigslist posting tools. But it doesn’t. These Usage Restrictions Aren’t New This right here isn’t new: USE. You agree not to use or provide software (except for general purpose web browsers and email clients, or software expressly licensed by us) or services that interact or interoperate with CL, e.g. for downloading, uploading, posting, flagging, emailing, search, or mobile use.That’s been in Craigslist’s terms of use for years now. The only change is that they’ve included a “reasonable estimate of damages” for violators of their existing usage restrictions that were already in place. Not All Craigslist Tools are Forbidden Posting tools that have always been in compliance are still in compliance. Craigslist bars the use of tools which download, upload, email, and post automatically to their site. The bulk posting tools in our industry don’t do that. They simply provide a content library for companies to then manually place listings. It’s when your software is automatically posting Craigslist ads in your name that you should probably be concerned. What Do Allowed Craigslist Tools Provide? With html, hyperlinks, and view-tracking thrown out, we’ve got some serious “make or break” questions on the value of posting tools. They don’t have the same html t......
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Protect Yourself from Scams

Protect Yourself from Scams
  When it comes to rental scams, people most often hear of the renter being the one scammed. And that scam usually comes in the form of a too-good-to-be-true apartment on CraigsList with a key that will be delivered upon receipt of a check. But property owners can be victims of scams, too. Tenants can move in and immediately entangle the owner in a legal battle that saves the renter from paying rent. Or images posted by a property owner can be taken and used by someone else posing as a property owner. The only way to combat these scams is to protect yourself wisely. When posting your rental on a site like CraigsList, photos are a must to help you stand out from the crowd and highlight your fabulous place. But before you post those photos, watermark them to help deter people from using your photos as their own. It also is a good idea to give street coordinates for your rental rather than the full address and keep your home phone and cell phone numbers off the web. Use an email address dedicated to your rental properties instead. And always screen candidates on the phone before agreeing to show your property. Someone out to scam you likely will be reluctant to divulge too much information, and you’ll see that red flag a mile away. The hope is always that the first person you’ll meet will be the perfect tenant, saving you the headache of searching. But that won’t always be th......
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The Craigslist Changes Fallout Part Deux: Moving past Craigslist

It’s been months now since Craigslist decided to give their user base a better search, user and mobile experience. Since my last article about the changes to Craigslist and the debate about posting tools, another major change was released. I think this latest change can put the debate to rest. If you watched the Webinar with Sarah Greenough on MFI, you know all about it. In December, Craigslist changed their Terms of Service and forced our users to agree to it. These terms mean that WE as Property Management Companies can be sued by Craigslist if we post ads using a posting tool. Here is the legal mumbo jumbo: "USE. You agree not to use or provide software (except for general purpose web browsers and email clients, or software expressly licensed by us) or services that interact or interoperate with CL, e.g. for downloading, uploading, posting, flagging, emailing, search, or mobile use." "to pay us for breaching or inducing others to breach the “USE” section, not as a penalty, but as a reasonable estimate of our damages (actual damages are often hard to calculate): $0.10 per server request, $1 per post, email, flag, or account created, $1 per item of PI collected, and $1000 per software distribution, capped at $25,000 per day." Scary stuff huh? Some Craigslist tips In the webinar I mentioned, Sarah Greenough talked about some great ways to overcome the recent Craigslist debacle. Sarah gave some good pointers: Consider posting directly to Craigslist, and create Craigslist kits which are s......
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Get Specific with Craigslist

snowman welcome home apartment marketingI just got married a few weeks ago! And with all the positive changes and excitement comes… moving. Although I’m not moving into an apartment, I have spent a good deal of time on Craigslist the past few months as my fiancé and I have talked about our budget and priorities when it comes to renting a home. It has been interesting and valuable to be reminded of the prospect experience first hand. Instead of being on Craigslist with my “work” hat on, I was scanning the site with a “renter” hat on. What really stood out to me was how many of the apartment community ads started to blur together. Many of them use the same types of what I call “power words” to describe what they offer and at a certain point, the phrases seem to feel empty and vague. On a property website, where you are not competing for visual attention with another community at the exact same moment, phrases like “come relax here”  or “the lifestyle you’ve been looking for” can have more power behind them. This is because generally, they are immediately accompanied by photos and other text that support the claim. But on Craigslist, it is crucial that you use a variety of headlines for different ads and be sure to include some that are VERY specific. For example: Upstairs, Corner 2BR w/ Large Windows & Pool Views – New Dishwasher – Laundry on Site. In addition to the title, it’s important the the information a prospect sees after clicking t......
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Are Your Craigslist Posts Doing Their Job?

That which isn't measured isn't managed. Such is the case with Craigslist ads. Craigslist's recent decision to disallow html means that many of your posting tool's tracking capabilities won't work, so you're left to do it yourself. That's not a bad thing. Manual audits ensure that posts are done, and done properly. Here's how it's done: From the Craigslist city page, type the property name and search 'All Housing.' If your posts don't include your property name, search for the phone number in the ad. Can you find the ads? Are your properties posting frequently enough? Are they posting correctly? That means completing all fields, including the correct location; appropriate photos; full, map-ready address, etc. For more tips on posting, review our previous posts here and here. If you have a lot of properties, keep track with an Excel spreadsheet. Put the properties down column A and the days you track in a row. When you do the audit, record how many posts you find per day. Excel can even automatically calculate your day and post totals. (If you want a pre-formatted spreadsheet, just email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..) Keep your Craigslist posts consistent — they're good for 1-2 leases per month when done right. But the only way to be sure is to audit manually, of course. It's boring, but like many of the basics, it works....
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Surviving Craig’s Brave New World

It's been a busy week fielding a torrent of inquiries regarding the changes to Craigslist. Yes, these annoying Craigslist changes are hear to stay. Yes, tracking is dead. No, there is not one weird trick that will get your html back onto Craigslist. But there are things that can be done. This is my second list of options. You’ll find the first list here. Here’s the very first thing to do. Email Craig at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Yes, seriously. Do it.  Don’t whine at him about lost HTML, or lost tracking, or flagging or ghosting. Yell at him about the lost hyperlinks. And use exclamation points. And call him a demeaning name or two for this single act. But nothing profane. Craig — or someone over there at Better-Than-Thou Central — reads emails at this account. Everything else Craigslist has done can be argued on some sort of merit (regardless of the opinions each of us has). Allowing no hyperlinks is wrong-headed. It is as painful to renters as it is to all of us. And it’s nothing less than an affront on the Internet itself. Tell Craig you’ll take everything else. But we need links back in some form. Perhaps as a separate field. Perhaps registered like handguns. Or regulated like pseudoephed. Somehow. And if you have time to read the reminder of this post, then you have time to write that email to Craig. Second. Decorate your links. Renters want links. And we see many of them copying and pasting them from Craigsli......
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