Looking for a new place to rent? Avoid Craigslist, here’s why…

Why Craigslist is a waste of time for new tenants

Not looking for a rental property, but looking to list your property? List with us here! Want to see why Craigslist is a waste of time for property managers?

It’s come to that time of the year where you and possibly your roommates are looking for a new place to live while attending school. You start your search off on the ever popular Craigslist and find a couple houses or apartments that fit your budget and your style. One by one you begin reaching out via the contact info provided on the screen only to be hit with no-answers or lousy explanations of why the property is unavailable.

Sound familiar? If not, you’re one of the lucky few. Students everywhere run into this scenario or a similar problem when they’re faced with finding a house or apartment in Louisville or elsewhere!

In an effort to help renters find a suitable property more efficiently, this list will give you some of the most common Craigslist pitfalls and ways to avoid them.

  1. If it’s too good to be true it probably is
    • There’s a lot of spam on Craigslist and the rentals section is no exception to this. You may run into an ad for a gorgeous apartment or house and find it to be much lower than other properties in the surrounding area. While this may appear like a diamond in the rough at first, I would suggest you do your due diligence. Cross check the property with other sites, and actually visit the property before committing to anything
    • It’s not uncommon for these ads to act as a means of collecting people’s personal data. If the ad links to another site or directly asks you for your personal information, it’s best to avoid that ad altogether.
  2. Many property managers do not completely fill out the listing
    • By using Craigslist’s search feature and filtering the results down based on square footage, monthly rent, number of bathrooms, or other factors you would think it wouldn’t take long at all to find the perfect rental. Unfortunately the opposite is usually true. Many posts are incomplete and lack important information that is left out of these search filters. Other times the information is put into the ad description itself and not where the search function can find it. This leads to many properties being ‘hidden’ from potential tenants like yourself.
    • At the time of writing this post, there isn’t really a good way of finding the ‘hidden’ search results. Much of the responsibility lies on the property manager or Craigslist to clean up these ads to improve the results.
  3. Very few photos
    • What if not a single listing had any photos and you had to judge potential units or houses based off a text description alone, how do you think you would fair? The sad truth is many listings are not far off from this. Some Craigslist listings only have one picture or sometimes even just a graphic with the information that is already posted in the description! Insanity right!?
    • How is any rational buyer supposed to make preliminary decisions without visual cues to the quality of the property? There are a growing number of these listings out there, and while some may have 3 or 4 photos, how are you supposed to judge a rental with only these few photos?
    • The best way to beat this problem is to search for additional listings of the same property through a Google search or find a different listing site altogether.
  4. It’s never guaranteed to be available
    • Once a listing is posted, it’s the job of the property manager or owner to remove the listing once the property has been rented and the paper work filled out. However, most posters only do half of this. After the property has been signed off, the ad will remain on the site until it expires. Most ads are set to run for 30 days, so many end up becoming outdated and dead end streets for you. Like the situation described in the beginning, the only way to find out if this property has already been rented is taking the time to call and ask.
    • This process can become very discouraging and a hassle, especially if no one picks up the phone the first time you call. The easiest way to avoid this is to avoid Craigslist completely. Outdated listings are a nuisance and a waste of your valuable time.

It seems Craigslist is always growing and as it gets bigger, these problems are only going to get worse. It’s very easy to get past some of the site’s security measures and this just makes it worse for the buyers later on. I’ve found that after weeding out the spam listings and figuring out which properties are unavailable there really aren’t any properties that fit my requirements.

If you’re serious about finding a rental property that offers a good value to you, I would suggest searching through a site where advertisers pay to have their property listed. Sites such as this one, and many others contain virtually no spam and are updated on a regular basis to remove any outdated listings.