How To Sell Your House for Sale by Owner on Craigslist (And if It’s Worth It)

By Amy Beardsley

Posted on July 22nd, 2022

Step-by-step guide | Setting a price | Managing potential buyers | Costs | Tips and tricks | Avoiding scams | Affordable alternatives | FAQs

home for sale

If you're looking to sell your home yourself, putting your listing on Craigslist's homes for sale by owner section is a very common marketing tactic. Since selling your house for sale by owner (FSBO) limits where you can advertise your home, Craigslist is a free and easy resource to take advantage of.

If you market your house properly and avoid scams, selling for sale by owner on Craigslist can work. However, you'll need to know what to expect when selling a home yourself. Read on to learn how to sell FSBO on Craigslist, from making a listing to vetting potential buyers.

Is Selling on Craigslist for Sale by Owner Right for You?

Putting your house on Craigslist is easy. Selling your home yourself is tough.

You’re responsible for:

  • ✍ Managing your listing

  • 🔍 Responding to buyers and weeding out the tire-kickers from the serious shoppers

  • 📷 Taking pictures

  • 📢 Marketing the house

  • 📆 Scheduling showings and open houses

  • 📰 Reviewing offers

  • ⚖ Negotiating with buyers and buyer's agents

  • 👷 Making repairs

  • 📕 Understanding and correctly filing legal disclosures

  • 📠 Preparing paperwork

Additionally, FSBO homes tend to sell for less than homes sold by an agent. According to the National Association of Realtors, the median price for FSBO homes was $260,000 in 2021 — about 18% lower than the median price of $318,000 for agent-assisted home sales.

Sellers choose to sell FSBO to save the 2.5-3% seller's agent commission fee. But it can be expensive to prepare the home for sale, and you can end up selling your home for less than it's worth — wiping away any savings on realtor fees.

If you want to save money on your home sale but you don't want to go through the hassle of selling FSBO (and possibly price your home wrong), our friends at Clever Real Estate can help. Clever is a nationwide low commission brokerage that can match you with top-performing local agents who can help sell your home for a 1% fee or $3,000.

Clever works with top-performing agents from companies like RE/MAX and Coldwell Banker and pre-vets its agents to make sure you'll be in good hands. And best of all, Clever is free! If Clever can't match you with an agent you love, you can go right back to selling your home for sale by owner on Craigslist.

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5 Steps to List Your Home for Sale by Owner on Craigslist

Selling your home on Craigslist is pretty straightforward. Collect all the info you’ll need for your listing, create a free account, and you’re ready to list your home for sale by owner on Craigslist.

1. Find Your Local Page on Craigslist

Craigslist will automatically detect your general location from your IP address, so you'll at least be in the right state, if not metro area, of your local Craigslist page. You can narrow down your location by selecting local towns and cities on the right side of the page.

Make sure you navigate to the correct section so your ad is directed to the correct market. For example, if you're in Escambia County, Florida, you’ll want to list your Craigslist ad in the Pensacola area, which includes that county.

Check Out the Competition

Next, browse other homes that are listed in that section. Notice the number and style of photos, pricing, and language used in the ads.

Also take note of posts that have been active for a long time. If an ad has been there a while, it means the homeowner hasn’t successfully sold their home yet. Identify what they might be doing wrong and try to avoid their mistakes.

Then, set up your account (if you don’t already have one).

Set a Price

The single most important thing you can do when selling FSBO is to set an accurate price. Homes that are priced too high won't sell and buyers may think something is wrong, but if you set a price too low you'll leave money on the table.

Realtors will check nearby, comparable home sales to calculate what your home will be worth on the market. You can do this yourself, or hire an appraiser to tell you what they think your home is worth.

If you run your own comparative market analysis (CMA, or "comps), keep in mind:

  • Similarity: Look for homes with the same number of bedrooms, bathrooms and a similar square footage. Architecture and amenities (like a pool or modern updates) also plays a factor.

  • Location: If possible, only use recently sold homes within one mile of your property. If your home is rural or there are no similar nearby home sales, it's going to be difficult to price.

  • Lot size: Look for properties with similar acreage, with similar lot features

  • Age and condition: Keep in mind your property's age and condition when comparing similar houses. Newer houses tend to fetch a higher price and have fewer problems.

  • Date of sale: Look for properties that have sold within the past four to six months.

3. Photograph Your house

Posting quality photos of your home is key to attracting buyers.

Before taking pictures, remove clutter and personal items. Clutter makes the home seem small, and potential buyers can have difficulty imagining themselves living in the home if your personal items (like family photos) are visible.

If you have a lot of stuff, move some furniture and boxes to the garage or a storage unit. Less stuff makes the home seem more spacious and appealing.

If the home is currently empty, bring in some furniture to stage it. Staging gives buyers a sense of scale.

Make sure the home’s interior areas are clean and well lit. Take pictures of the inside and outside of the home, with extra care to photograph the front, kitchen, bathrooms, master bedroom, living room, and back yard.

Hire a professional photographer if you're not good with a camera. Real estate photography costs about $100-$125 per hour, according to Thumbtack.

4. Create Your Ad

To create your ad, click "create a posting,” which is highlighted in yellow at the top left hand corner of the main page.



On the next page, select “housing offered,” then “real estate - by owner.”


You will then be directed to create a listing for your house.

Writing Your Listing

The title is the most essential tool for getting people to look at your ad. Create a title that grabs attention and piques the reader's interest. Use appropriate descriptive and imagery language such as "cozy cottage" or "elegant traditional."

» Jump to: How to Make Your Listing Stand Out

Enter the description of your home in the "description" box. Be sure to highlight the home’s location and best features, but also be upfront about any needed repairs or issues. Buyers on Craigslist expect imperfect homes, but you don't want to waste your time showing to someone who's not ready to take on the big issues.

Next, choose the appropriate city or neighborhood and enter details about your home:

  • Housing type (single-family, duplex, condo, etc.)

  • Square feet

  • Number of bathrooms and bedrooms

  • Open house dates you have planned

Buyer’s agents won’t show a home to their clients if sellers don’t offer to cover the commission, so be sure to include that you're paying the buyer's agent fee. A 2.5-3% commission is standard.

5. Upload Photos

Before uploading your photos, carefully review them to make sure each one is clear, in focus, has good lighting, and shows your home as positively as possible. Delete any that are unflattering or awkward.

Click “add images” to choose pictures from your computer to upload. You can share up to 24 photos, so make sure to have at least 24 good ones — pictures are very important for home buyers who are looking at properties online.

You can rearrange photos as you see fit. The first photo will be the featured photo.

6. Preview and Then Post

Finally, scrutinize your post in "preview" to make sure everything looks correct. Spelling and grammatical errors can distract buyers and make them feel that the seller is unprofessional. A free word processing program like Google Docs will catch most errors.

To make changes before posting, click "edit." When you're satisfied with the ad, click "post" to publish it.

How to Manage Requests from Buyers

You listed your house, and now buyers are contacting you. Great! So what do you do now?

Schedule a time to show your house to each potential buyer. Walk each person through the home and honestly answer whatever questions they have about it. For safety, don't show your home alone. Always make sure you have a friend or family member with you.

You can set up an open house so potential buyers can view your home. Open houses save time over individual appointments, as multiple interested buyers can look at the house at the same time. Interested buyers usually request a second, private showing.

If you receive an offer, carefully review it. Hire a real estate attorney if you have any questions or need help drafting a purchase contract.

Reviewing offers also means knowing which offer to counter, which ones to accept, and which ones to reject. Negotiation is a big part of a real estate transaction, and if the buyer has an agent — which they almost certainly will — they're going to try and get the best deal possible on their client's behalf. But if you keep getting lowball offers, you may have overpriced your home.

If you would like help selling your home but don't want to pay the 2.5-3% seller's agent fee, we recommend our friends at Clever Real Estate. Clever is a nationwide low commission brokerage that matches you with top local agents who can help sell your home for a 1% listing fee or $3,000.

Sellers love Clever — the company has a 4.9 out of 5 rating on Trustpilot with 1,700+ reviews from customers located all over the country. On average, Clever saves the average seller $9,000 in realtor fees!

And best of all, Clever is free. If they can't match you with an agent you love, you can go right back to selling FSBO, no strings attached. And if you do, you can sell your home without any of the DIY and Craigslist-induced headaches while saving thousands.

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How Much Does Craigslist FSBO Cost?

The good thing about listing your home on Craigslist is that it’s free, with a few exceptions. Craigslist charges a $5 fee for apartment rentals in Boston, Chicago, and New York City areas and for any commercial real estate in the U.S.

Although the listing is free, selling your home yourself is stressful and requires your full commitment (plus some cash). It's a lot of work to prepare your home for sale, find ways to market it to buyers, and manage the closing process.

Hiring a professional photographer or real estate staging company is costly, but it presents a cleaner, more professional image that helps you sell your home.

Your home may also benefit from having a professional cleaning crew mop up the property, or renting a storage unit for clutter. Make sure the landscaping is prim and proper (you may want to hire a landscaper), obvious repairs are fixed, and all appliances are working correctly.

FSBO doesn’t leave you with much downtime, especially if you’re trying to find another home to buy. For some people, time is money. You may need help if you're trying to juggle a job, family life, and other responsibilities on top of selling your home yourself.

Tips to Make Your Craigslist FSBO Ad Stand Out

An eye-catching listing can attract more buyers. Here’s how to help your Craigslist FSBO ad stand out:

  • Create a great title. Catch people’s attention with something unique and intriguing.

  • Write a clear description. Include details about the home that make it unique and improvements you've made. There are various ways to write a winning description, or consider hiring a professional writer to make the ad more engaging and fun.

  • Include details. Share information about the less exciting (but important) parts of your home, such as parking, laundry, yard, and homeowner amenities.

  • Post quality photos. Craigslist allows you to upload 24 photos, so take advantage of that. Choose the most stunning photo as the primary image for the ad.

  • Provide your contact information. Make it easy for buyers to reach you. Craigslist provides a virtual email address in the ad, so buyers can respond to it directly, and Craigslist routes those messages directly to your email. You can display your personal email address and phone number in the ad, but you don't have to. If you want more privacy, set up a free Google Voice number that forwards to your cell phone to keep your real phone number private.

» MORE: 200+ Real Estate Words to Make Your Listing Stand Out

How to Avoid Craigslist Scams

Craigslist is a great resource for free ads, but be suspicious of scammers. There are fake listings, fake rental properties, and half truths about square footage.

Sometimes people may contact you with requests that seem legit but are actually scams — never send money, and don't deposit any unsolicited checks. Keep your guard up and look for red flags whether you're buying or selling.

Be safe about meeting potential buyers. Meet during daylight hours and always have someone with you just in case.

Affordable FSBO Alternatives to Selling Your Home on Craigslist

You don’t have to rely solely on Craigslist FSBO. You can list your home as for sale by owner with:

Low Commission Brokers

If you're looking to sell your home for maximum value but selling FSBO is too much of a time commitment, you can go with a low commission brokerage to save money on realtor commission.

Our partners at Clever offer the lowest commission fees around at 1% for home sales over $350,000 and $3,000 for homes below that amount. Traditional realtors charge 2.5-3%.

For comparison, here are some popular low commission brokerages and their listing fees:

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» MORE: The 9 Best Low Commission Brokers

Clever operates nationwide and can match you with up to three pre-vetted, local agents to pick from. You'll get the exact same service as a traditional realtor at a fraction of the price.

And best of all, Clever is free to use. If they can't match you with an agent you love, you can go right back to selling FSBO.

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Other Free and Paid FSBO Websites

Craigslist isn't the only place you should be listing your FSBO home. There are several other free and paid websites that cater exclusively to people looking to sell or buy FSBO properties.

Want an in-depth look? Check out:

Flat Fee MLS Companies

Flat fee MLS companies will list your home on the MLS for a fee. In doing so, they become your listing broker, although they won't provide any real help. Some companies provide à la carte services like lockboxes and yard signs.

If you're selling FSBO, it's a very good idea to get on the MLS. Just putting your home on Craigslist will significantly limit your buyer pool.

» MORE: What Are Flat Fee MLS Companies? Costs, Risks, and Alternatives

Cash Investors

Craigslist is a popular site among house flippers and investors so you may encounter these buyers.

Investors offer cash and fast closing, but their offers are low. Investors will pay far below market value in order to make money repairing the property and selling it for a profit.

Cash investors will offer a maximum of 70% of a home's after repair value. That means if a home is worth $300,000, but it needs $50,000 to get there, an investor will only offer $160,000 ($300,000 x 0.70 - $50,000 = $160,000).

Rental property investors usually offer more because they factor in estimated rental income because it's a long term investment.

IBuyers

An iBuyer is a company that pays close to market value on a home, makes cash offers, and can close fast.

The biggest iBuyer drawbacks is that they only buy certain houses and you won't get top dollar for your house. They also have service fees that are comparable to realtor commissions.

However, if you want to sell fast and you have a qualifying home — that is, a home in certain condition located in certain popular markets — an iBuyer can be a great choice. Redfin has a service fee of 5-13% and they buy vacant homes as well as owner-occupied ones (most iBuyers only buy owner-occupied properties). Offerpad has a service fee of 5% and they offer a free moving service within 50 miles.

Want to see if your home qualifies? Plug in your ZIP code below to see if your home is eligible for a cash offer from Offerpad. If they do give you an offer, there's no obligation to buy, and you'll have a good idea of what your home is worth.

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Related Reading

FAQs About Selling For Sale by Owner on Craigslist

Is it free to post a home on Craigslist?

It is totally free to list a residential home on Craigslist. The only exceptions are apartment rentals in Boston, Chicago and New York City, as well as any commercial real estate. Those kinds of listings cost $5. But selling for sale by owner on Craigslist is free. Learn more about the other costs of selling for sale by owner.

How do I list a home for sale by owner on Craigslist?

Posting a home for sale by owner on Craigslist is simple. You just need to locate your area's closest Craigslist page, click "create a posting", select "real estate - by owner," then "housing offered" and then fill out your listing description. Learn more about how to post a house for sale by owner on Craigslist and how to successfully market your FSBO sale.

How do I safely list a home for sale on Craigslist?

You will want to take some safety precautions when selling a house on Craigslist. Have someone with you when showing your home, and don't deposit any unsolicited checks. Read more about more safety precautions you should take when selling a home on Craigslist.

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Posted in For Sale By Owner, Selling a House