How To Find Homes for Sale by Owner on Craigslist (And Why You Might Not Want To)

By Amy Beardsley

Posted on July 22nd, 2022

How to find FSBO homes | Mobile homes | What to look for | Do you need an agent? | Avoiding scams | Pros and Cons | Craigslist alternatives | FAQs

house under magnifying glass

Sellers who are adamant on not paying the seller's agent listing fee will often post their home for sale by owner on Craigslist. Craigslist is one of the most well-known places for sale by owner (FSBO) sellers to list, and buyers may find that these homes are sold at a discount. People have found great deals on cars and furniture on Craigslist, so why not a house?

If you're looking for homes for sale on Craigslist, you'll want to take some precautions. Craigslist is known for scams, and some properties may not be worth the listing price.

Whether you're looking for an investment property or a forever home, it helps to have a buyer's agent by your side. The seller pays the typical 3% buyer's agent fee, and FSBO sellers know this — any serious FSBO seller should have this cost factored into their home-selling budget.

If you're looking to buy a for sale by owner house, our partners at Clever Real Estate can get you 0.5% cash back on home sales over $150,000 in 41 states. Clever can match you with a top local agent who will help you negotiate your sale, close the deal on your terms, and then send you a check in the mail after closing. You can use that cash on whatever you want — no judgment.

🏡 Buy with Clever, get cash back. It's that easy — learn more!

Read on to learn how you can make the best decisions on your home buying journey.

How to Find Homes for Sale by Owner on Craigslist

Find homes for sale by owner (FSBO) on Craigslist by searching listings in your area. Each state is broken into several regions, and Craigslist has boards for each area. If you're in a rural or less populated spot, you'll have to look at the closest region's board.

It might make sense to check several areas for homes if you're looking in a large region. Choose a neighborhood and consider convenience, price ranges, amenities and school ratings.

Search for Available Properties

Start your Craigslist home search by choosing the area where you want to buy, and then navigate to the "real estate for sale" section under the housing category.

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Once you see a listing of homes, check the page's top left for a drop-down, then select "real estate - by owner."

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On the left-hand side, Craigslist's search feature includes price range, number of miles from the region, square footage, housing type, and number of bedrooms and bathrooms. You can also click "include nearby areas" to expand your search area.

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Be aware that many of the Craigslist FSBO listings are brokers or real estate investment companies. You can also choose “real estate - by broker” if you would like to pursue that route as well.

Consider Posting an Ad

Another way to find a home for sale by owner on Craigslist is by posting an ad under "housing wanted" to let people know you're looking for a home, and sellers can come to you with listings.

A creative, well-written, funny ad gets people's attention on Craigslist, so have some fun writing it.

For privacy and safety reasons, you may want to set up a Google Voice number to field calls, or only use the email address that Craigslist provides.

Does Craigslist have Mobile Homes for Sale by Owner?

You can find mobile homes for sale by owner on Craigslist. The column on the left helps you filter search results for listings you want. Under "housing type," select "manufactured."

You can also choose other housing types, such as duplex, apartment, condo, etc.

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What to Look for in Craigslist for Sale by Owner Homes

Before you get excited about a Craigslist for sale by owner house, make sure the listing:

  • Includes photos. Listings without photos are a red flag and could indicate a fake listing.

  • Shows the address. If you want to verify the listing, you can drive by the house (or hire someone to) before contacting the owner through Craigslist to ensure it exists and is indeed for sale.

  • Has a realistic price. If the listing price looks too good to be true, it probably is.

  • Doesn't ask for sensitive personal info. A seller asking you to send information like your social security number or driver's license under the guise of doing a credit check is looking to scam you.

  • Was posted by the owner or the broker. If the person responding to the listing is not the owner or real estate agent, be cautious. You may want to cut off communication if the person says they are the owner’s friend or family member, or the owner is out of town.

  • Mentions the home is available to be shown. A home listed for sale but not available for showing could indicate it’s a fake listing.

  • Doesn't request money upfront. Don’t engage with sellers who ask for a payment or deposit to hold the home or even show it to you.

Should You Have a Real Estate Agent to Buy a Craigslist FSBO Home?

You don’t need a real estate agent before visiting a home you found on Craigslist, but it’s a good idea to hire one before you take a step toward buying any home.

First, not all housing listings are legit. Sometimes you’ll find the same home pictured in multiple ads. Any seller requesting a wire payment or gift cards is definitely a scammer.

Second, viewing the house alone could put you in an unsafe situation. Even if you don't have a buyer's agent, don't go by yourself. Bring a friend or family member who can call for help if things don't go as planned. Craigslist does not vet buyers or sellers or require them to prove their identity.

Importantly, a buyer's agent does not cost you anything. The 3% buyer's agent fee is part of the sellers closing costs, and all serious FSBO sellers know this. If a FSBO seller is unwilling to pay the buyer's agent commission, they may be trying to hide something or to put one over on the buyer.

An experienced buyer's agent can help save you from buying a poor quality FSBO home on Craigslist, and we recommend all home buyers have one by their side. That's why Home Bay has partnered with Clever Real Estate. Clever is a nationwide brokerage that, in 41 states, can get buyers 0.5% cash back after closing for home sales over $150,000.

Clever offers a free agent-matching service that will pair you with a top-performing, pre-vetted agent in your area. Clever hand-picks agents from companies like RE/MAX, Coldwell Banker and Berkshire Hathaway. Find an agent you love and get cash back in 41 states just for using Clever — it's that simple!

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How to Avoid Craigslist Real Estate Scams

You can avoid Craigslist real estate scams by following a few tips:

  • Always meet in person. Scammers aren’t likely to want to meet face-to-face.

  • Reverse image search photos. Scammers are known to use real photos of for-sale properties to lure in buyers. Right click a photo to copy the image address and then paste the URL into TinEye's search bar to see if the photo has appeared on listings for different addresses.

  • Verify the posted pictures are the actual property. Stop or drive by the property to make sure the photos on Craigslist accurately represent the home.

  • Don’t give out your personal information. Instead, use the private email address Craigslist provides until you can verify the seller's information.

  • Never pay anything up front. Scammers ask for money upfront using untraceable methods like wire transfers because there is actually no property for sale. Any escrow money should be deposited with an escrow agent as according to the purchase contract.

Beware if it sounds too good to be true. Scammers pull people in by listing homes for less than market value.

Pros and Cons of Buying a House on Craigslist

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Alternatives to Craigslist Home for Sale by Owner

Look for homes for sale by owner through other websites. If you see the same listings across multiple platforms, particularly paid platforms, the listing is less likely to be a scam.

Paid FSBO Listing Sites

For sale by owner sellers can list their homes for a fee on sites like Beycome, Fizber, FSBO.com and other paid FSBO listing sites. You're more likely to find quality listings because the seller must pay a fee to advertise their home for sale.

» MORE: The Best FSBO Websites in 2022

Free FSBO Listing Sites

There are several other free sites to find FSBO real estate, including Zillow, Facebook Marketplace and ForSaleByOwner.com.

» MORE: 9 FSBO Websites You've Never Heard of (But Should Know!)

Local News Websites

Local newspapers still run classifieds on their websites (or possibly even in print) for a fee. You can find home listings for sale by owner and brokerage listings on your local news sites and printed pages.

Hire a Buyer's Agent

A buyer's agent will cost you nothing, so there's no good reason to skip out on one. A good buyer's agent can help you find a good FSBO home for your needs and help you negotiate the best deal possible in your favor. Plus, they can root out scams.

And if you use our partners at Clever, you can get cash back after closing! Buyers in 41 states can get 0.5% cash back for homes over $150,000, while buyers purchasing a home of at least $50,000 can get $250 cash back.

Here's how it works: Clever offers a free agent-matching service that will put you in contact with one or more local agents. When you find an agent you love, you'll sign with them and, after closing on a property, you'll get a check hand-delivered to your mailbox. It's that simple.

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Recommended Reading

FAQs About Buying a Home for Sale by Owner on Craigslist

Can you buy mobile homes for sale by owner on Craigslist?

Mobile homes, also known as manufactured homes, are commonly found on Craigslist's housing for sale section. Many mobile home sellers on Craigslist are selling their home for sale by owner. Find out more how to find these homes — what you should look out for when buying FSBO on Craigslist.

How do you buy a home for sale by owner on Craigslist?

Go to your local Craigslist page and select "real estate for sale" under the "housing" section. Then use the drop-down menu to select "real estate - by owner." Find out what else you need to know when buying a for sale by owner home on Craigslist.

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Posted in Buying a House, For Sale By Owner