How to Find Wholesaling Property Deals on Craigslist

Craigslist is one of the top classified advertising websites, attracting millions of monthly users. On Craigslist, sellers create free listings of their properties to advertise to potential buyers. You can use both the search and listing features as a powerful tool for locating properties and advertising your wholesaling business.

Learning to use Craigslist effectively will be one of the most important strategies to generate wholesaling leads. Read on to learn how to get the most out of Craigslist.

How to Find Motivated Sellers on Craigslist

The first way to use Craigslist is to search for properties for sale. You will find these under “Real Estate for Sale” and then by selecting “for sale by owner.” There is also a section called “for sale by broker,” but most of these will be listed in the multiple listing service (MLS) and are not worth searching on Craigslist.

Focus on the properties listed “by owner” to find the best deals. Many of the properties will not be under market value or fit your criteria. However, if you check daily, you can find hidden gems for wholesaling.

Search by Keyword

You can search property listings by keyword. You are looking for listings that indicate a motivated seller. Good keywords to search for include:

  • Motivated seller
  • Or best offer (OBO)
  • Seller financing available
  • Will finance
  • Owner will finance
  • Lease to buy
  • Rent to own
  • Must sell
  • Homeowner must sell
  • All offers welcome
  • Will consider all offers
  • Take over payments
  • Lease option
  • Terms available
  • Will sell on terms
  • Must go
  • House must go
  • Flexible seller
  • Creative financing ok

Rental Properties

You can look under the section “Apts/Housing for Rent” for properties rented directly by the owner. The majority of the listings in this section are created by property management firms or real estate agents. However, the few homeowners there can be good leads.

You can email any owners directly to inquire about their interest. While most won’t respond to your email, those who do are usually motivated sellers tired of being landlords. Reach out before they have listed the property for an advantage in wholesaling.

Estate Sales

You can also search for the term “estate sale” and look for listings that mention estate sales. These sellers will be selling furniture and other household items, often in preparation to sell the property.

You can email people who have created an estate sale listing to inquire about their interest in selling the property. Estate sales are another excellent strategy for finding hidden wholesaling treasures on Craigslist before other investors.

How to Find Cash Buyers on Craigslist

In addition to searching for properties, you can also place ads under the “Real Estate for Sale” section in order to get people to contact you. Many agents and homeowners will check these listings before creating a listing for their property, leading them to your services.

When you create advertisements on Craigslist, you have to be careful to maximize your exposure on the platform and also avoid getting “ghosted.”

Here are seven steps for getting substantial leads from Craigslist advertisements:

Step 1: Create a Compelling Title or Headline

You want to grab people’s attention from the beginning. Most likely, they will be quickly scrolling through listings on their phone. You want a title or headline that stands out. The body of your advertisement can be compelling, but if the title doesn’t stand out, most people won’t read it.

Start by browsing Craigslist, and take note of which ads catch your eye. You can use a similar style and elements in your title. Be sure to make a different title for each ad you post; even just one different character or symbol will suffice.

Step 2: Use Symbols to Stand Out

You can use special symbols so that your title will stand out in the list. Think of using stars, hearts, arrows, and other symbols in your headline. This is shown to improve the open rate of your advertisements.

Most symbols have codes you type into your title on Craigslist. You can search for a symbol code you have in mind. To get you started, here are a few:

Symbol Codes for Craigslist Titles:

  • ★ is ★
  • ☀ is ☀
  • ❤ is ❤
  • 😀 is 😀
  • ▶ is ▶
  • ♦ is ♦
  • ▲ is ▲


You will type these codes within the text where you want the image to appear. For example, if you want to start your listing with a heart and end with a sun and three stars, you would type:
“❤ Sell Your House in 7 Days or Less ☀ ★ ★ ★”

This will show on Craigslist as:

❤ Sell Your House in 7 Days or Less ☀ ★ ★ ★

Step 3: Write the Body of Your Advertisement

You will want to write advertisements that speak to a variety of different sellers who were motivated to click on your advertisement. Be sure to include compelling reasons to encourage someone to click on your website or call you. You want to reach as many people as possible with your ad copy.

Sample Reasons to Include in Your Ad Copy:

  • No commission to sell your house.
  • We work in all areas.
  • We buy properties in all conditions.
  • We can close on a timeline that fits your schedule.
  • Close quickly.
  • Hassle-free sale.
  • Save money and get out of debt with a fast, easy sale.
  • We can help if you are behind on house payments.
  • We will make you an offer on your property in 48 hours or less.
  • No obligations.

You want to include a link to your website or, ideally, to your “squeeze page.” A squeeze page is a page specially designed to convert website traffic into business leads. On the page, users will be asked to provide basic information like name, email, phone number, and property address.

Step 4: Avoid Being Ghosted

While preparing your ads, you have to be sure to create them specifically so that you are not blocked by Craigslist’s algorithm. You never want to repeat titles or descriptions in your advertisements, or you run the risk of Craigslist ghosting your ads. That means your ads will appear to you to have posted but will not show up in listings. If your ads are ghosted, they also will not show up in the search results.

Craigslist will ghost ads that it believes were created by spammers. It is a way to keep the site useful and relevant to the intended users. If you create lots of ads in the first few days of setting up an account, you will probably end up ghosted. This is especially true if the ads have similar titles and descriptions.

Make a schedule and post a few ads every day. Get creative with your titles and deceptions. Craigslist advertising is a long-term process that can generate wholesaling leads quickly if you stay consistent and avoid being ghosted.

Step 5: Use Image Ads

After you are comfortable posting text ads, it is time to start using images to stand out on Craigslist. Images within the body of the advertisement have been shown to increase response rates, as some people will only look at advertisements with images.

For this reason, even if you plan to use mostly text, it is a good idea to add at least one small image.

You need to use unique images in each ad. If you repeatedly use the same image, you will get ghosted by Craigslist. To avoid this, if you want to use the same image, you can make copies of the image on your computer and give each one a unique name. This will trick Craisglist into thinking you are using unique images each time.

Step 6: Reposting Ads

If you want to repost an ad, wait until it is at least 48 hours old and the original ad has been deleted. However, it is usually better to just make each ad unique through different images, titles, and symbols in the title or the text. That way, your ads won’t get ghosted.

Step 7: Track Results

You will want to test and track your Craigslist results. You should not be throwing random advertisements out there without information on how they perform. You can use tracking codes within your ads or in combination with your website analytics. Google Analytics is the most common website tracking tool.

Over time, you will be able to use the data from the tracking codes to see when activity is the highest, when you are most likely to get views, and when you get the best conversions to your website. You will also be able to see which types of ads get the most clicks and further target your ads.

All of this information will help you to maximize effectiveness on Craigslist and make the most of the time you invest in advertising.

What to Do if You Get Flagged

Once you have started using Craigslist regularly, prepare to be flagged. Being flagged means another user has reported you because they believe you are in violation of Craigslist’s user guidelines. This is done by clicking a flag in the upper right corner of each posting.

It is usually not Craigslist that is not flagging you. In most cases, it will be other users. Usually, there is nothing in violation in your post, and it is your competitors flagging your post in an attempt to get it taken down. It is a way some users choose to take out the competition.

Don’t do this yourself, and don’t worry if it happens to you. Be consistent in posting your advertisements, and eventually, your competitors will get tired of flagging you and give up.

The only reason you want to be alert if you get flagged is because of excessive posting. If you are making multiple posts and are being flagged for excessive posting, you will want to slow down for a while and increase the time between your posts.


You can use Craigslist to search for properties for sale and to advertise your services to sellers. When searching, you are looking for homes that are “for sale by owner” and have motivated sellers. Keyword searches will help you to locate the best deals with highly motivated sellers.

You can also search under rental properties and estate sales to find properties that could be excellent for wholesaling but have not yet been listed. It is a good idea to check for new listings daily.

Posting on Craigslist is not a race. You don’t want to have the most posts. That is a surefire way to end up with advertisements that are ghosted. It is better to post consistently over a longer period of time. Consistency is the key.

To make your advertisements stand out, focus on catchy titles with unique symbols, interesting photos, and an advertisement that will reach emotionally distressed or pressured sellers. By explaining how you can help solve their problems, Craigslist will drive sellers to your website and your services.

With consistent use, Craigslist will be one of the main sources of wholesaling leads and will drive new business to you daily.