The Ghosts of Craigslist Past

Services for Real Estate Pros with

For the past 3 years or so, I have been helping my clients post ads for their listings and real estate services on Craigslist, and in the beginning it was a lovely service to offer. They were getting great leads without having to pay a dime. Sure, it took some time to put together and post the ads, but it was great to be able to tell a client that we can generate leads without additional ad costs.

It was also the perfect opportunity for companies like ours to develop products to help clients post ads more effectively on Craigslist.

And that’s just what we did. We spent months developing a product that would combine online listing flyers with USP (unique selling proposition) ads to generate the maximum amount of traffic to the website. It was wonderfully complex and would surly be the most innovative thing to hit the market.

After a stellar launch, there was more interest in it than any other product we had put out before. Our clients were extremely excited about it and new business was coming in as a result. And then.......... the ghosts came (insert scary music here).

Ghosting is when your ad appears to be accepted by Craigslist, but is not actually posted to the list of ads. You will receive a confirmation email from Craigslist saying your ad was accepted, and the link will direct you to what looks like a successfully posted ad online, but if you search for it on the list it wont show up. The ad is there, but can't be seen by anyone. It is a "ghost".

There are benefits to posting ads on Craiglist simply because it gets a massive amount of traffic on a daily basis. Should you build your business around it? Definitely not. And it is always dangerous to rely on one method of advertising (especially when it’s free).It can be very easy to get sucked into trying to "game the system" when your time could be better used elsewhere.

But, there are still some great ways for real estate agents to advertise on Craigslist.

Just yesterday I recorded a webinar specifically on this and what you can do to avoid the ghosting issues. Click here to access the Craigslist webinar video.

I also recommend the following quick tips to those who want to successfully post on Craigslist:

  1. Make sure you have a strong headline. The most effective headlines within Craigslist contain the geographic Area, unique type of home (fixer upper, foreclosure/Distress, luxury etc.) and the type of prospect (first time buyer, investor, home seller etc.)
  2. If you plan to post more than once a day, create multiple accounts. You will also need multiple phone numbers for verification purposes
  3. Use images for your ads instead of .html.
  4. Try posting in the "Real Estate Services" category rather than "Real Estate For Sale", especially if you are offering a free list of homes, real estate reports or an online home evaluation.

The bottom line: Blocking, ghosting and flagging are not unique to real estate advertisers. They are problems that have become widespread among all Craigslist users, whether they are spammers, legitimate businesses or innocent individuals. It can be even more frustrating because the conditions that cause these problems are not consistent from city to city. And Craigslist seems to be firm in its refusal to openly deal with the matter.

In the end, the most I can do is try to address the Craigslist needs of our members and remain committed to helping them succeed. And as Ray Parker once sang in that mildly popular 80’s tune “I ain't afraid of no ghosts”.


Re-Blogged 1 time:

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  1. Patrick Ciriello 10/14/2011 05:55 AM

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Warren Edwards
Tucson, AZ
Professional Photographer - 360 Virtual Tours

     Craigslist is a great resource I og=ften use in my photography business.  Again it is just another tool that must be monitored.  The benefit is there is a lot of traffic that visits that site on a daily basis, the downside is flagging and all of the spam received.  I also want to thank Wallace Gibson for a previous post about reading Craigslist - Cracking the code. 

Oct 13, 2011 04:16 AM #20
David Santangelo - Keller Williams Realty - Boynton Beach, FL
Search Palm Beach County Florida Homes for Sale

We post to craigslist all day everyday - we get tons of traffic to our website and great leads! Craigslist is really a great FREE tool to be utilizing. It was great to read about what could be happening to some of our posts, I don't want any of them to be a Ghost! Thanks for sharing..

Oct 13, 2011 04:19 AM #21
Eric H. Shuster - Springfield, MO

Very helpful,

I actually learned a lot by reading both your blog and all of the good comments.

Thanks Everyone

Oct 13, 2011 05:13 AM #22
Kristin Hamilton CA Realtor
Keller Williams Realty - Redlands, CA
(909) 557-6966, GREEN, SFR, CHS-Redlands/Loma Lind

Hi Kristie,

Thanks for all your help. I have been meaning to post some ads on Craig's List so this article has me motivated to do it right now. I learned a lot from reading your article as it is obvious you know all about the positive and negative issues. Thanks again.

Oct 13, 2011 05:51 AM #23
Leonard Ruiz
Evergreen Realty, Homesmart - Chino, CA

Thanks for the Craigslist tips. I've done a few postings on CL but was always turned off by the spam emails that followed.

Oct 13, 2011 06:04 AM #24
Bruce Bachtel

Thanks for the great info. A friend of mine was just ghosted on Craigslist and it took him about 3 weeks and a lot of work to finally get "un-ghosted". Is there a certain frequency that you are allowed to post that will not get you in trouble?

Oct 13, 2011 06:29 AM #25
Steven Cook
No Longer Processing Mortgages. - Tacoma, WA

Kristie -- this is indeed excellent information on how to use CraigsList in a more beneficial manner.  Have a great day!

Oct 13, 2011 08:13 AM #26
Dawn Crawley
Dawn Crawley Realty - Pinehurst, NC
Find Pinehurst Homes

Great post, thanks. I'm going to check out your webinar, too.

Oct 13, 2011 08:53 AM #27
Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices


this is a very interesting post. I know that some people get quite substantial business from Craigs List, and some don't. Will watch the video and read again the comments, some are very good

Oct 13, 2011 09:20 AM #28
Kristie Filion - Toronto, ON

@Bruce - You can only post once per day per account. Sometimes you can get away with posting more than once from a single account if you post under different categories (i.e. real estate for sale and/or real estate services)


Oct 13, 2011 09:49 AM #29
Rob Kittle
Kittle Real Estate - Fort Collins, CO
"We Specialize, You Benefit!" -Kittle Real Estate

I share the same problem way back may to june, but i am thankful now that i found a way to fix it and i am getting good percentage of live ads from Craigslist. The new Craigslist platform is much easier to manage. Multiple accounts is a big help for advertisers with tons of listings. Thanks for sharing this Kristie!

Oct 13, 2011 01:18 PM #31
Yvette Chisholm
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Rockville, MD
Associate Broker - Rockville, MD 301-758-9500

This is interesting...I didn't know about ghosting...I definitely have clients complain that they can't find the ads.   

Oct 13, 2011 01:32 PM #33
Sara Homan
Coldwell Banker Ellison Realty 352-209-4044 - Ocala, FL
Realtor, Homes, Farms & 55+


Thanks for the tips!  I've been using Craigslist successfully for nearly 3 years now, I'm looking forward to viewing the seminar to learn even more.

Oct 13, 2011 01:37 PM #34
Mike Grumbles
Gray Fox Realty - Franklin, TN
The Relocation Engineer in Franklin TN
Kristie We have been using CL but now we know we need to check for ghosting and put a plan in place to avoid ghosting. Mike
Oct 13, 2011 02:38 PM #35
Steve Warrene
Your Town Realty - Lower Burrell, PA
Pittsburgh Real Estate Investment Specialists

I never heard of "ghosting".  I advertise my listings there often.  I like the idea of offering reports and home evaluations, etc...

Oct 13, 2011 02:49 PM #36
Shawn King
Boise Premier Real Estate - Star, ID
Star, Boise, Eagle, Meridian Real Estate


Thanks for your insights.  I definitely have a love-hate relationship with Craigslist.  BACKPAGE!

Oct 13, 2011 03:28 PM #37
John Marion
RE/MAX Town & Country - Canton, GA

Thank you for the information about posting to Craigslist, Kristie. I'm posting ads regularly now I will have to go back and check that they are actually appearing.

Oct 13, 2011 04:22 PM #38
Kristie Filion - Toronto, ON

I am thrilled with the response I have had form this post and can't wait to continue the development our Craigslist program to meet the needs of our clients.

As an alternative to Craigslist, you can also use Backpage & EBay Classifieds (Kijiji in Canada).  Ebay Classifieds does not allow for .html or active links, so it really is more of a "Classified Ad" where you would use an image or just text.

Make sure you give your viewers specific instructions to copy and past the url in the ad or include a "Benefit Rich" domain name in the ad, just like you would do for a print ad.

Oct 14, 2011 02:33 AM #39
Paul Gapski
Berkshire Hathaway / Prudential Ca Realty - El Cajon, CA
619-504-8999,#1 Resource SD Relo

thank you very much for the informative and interesting post. I get so much out of the active rain network.

Mar 09, 2012 10:55 PM #40

 Craigslist help us to ads post. But Now I am telling everyone about a great community websites Ther are tring to raise money to complete sires. To learn more go

Feb 23, 2013 12:39 AM #41
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