If you know how to use the multitude of free ad posting directories online, there is an OCEAN of low- and no-cost opportunities to find great real estate deals from motivated sellers.

One of the most notable free ad posting directories is Craigslist. And as obvious as it should be, many people don’t realize there are real, legitimate deals waiting to be found on publicly available websites like this (which bring in hundreds of millions of visitors each month).

If you have the luxury of time, you can start by searching these websites manually for motivated sellers and properties that show good potential for high equity.

Luckily, most of these platforms offer ways to narrow down your search.

For example, on Craigslist, you start by clicking on the “Housing” section (which will give you access to EVERYTHING related to housing). Or, if you want to get even more specific, click on the “real estate for sale” section and go from there.

craigslist directory

On the next page, make liberal use of the filtering options available in the sidebar, and start searching for properties based on the keywords that reflect your desired outcome.

For example, I might start by specifying a price range, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and locations I consider acceptable.

craigslist real estate search

You can also take it one step further by typing in some of the keywords commonly referred to in property listings that actually end up being good deals.

In the example above, I used the word “Fixer.” If a listing includes this word, the owner or agent probably uses the words “fixer-upper” (or something to that effect) to describe the property's condition. This means there’s a better chance I’d be able to get the property for a price far below market value because it obviously needs work, and it’s less appealing to the typical retail buyer.

A TON of these keywords can help you zero in on the properties that appeal to investors looking to buy at a lower price.

Want some other common keywords that tend to return a more concentrated number of good deals? Here are some other examples that will help you root out the best opportunities:

1. ARV 18. Fix and Flip 35. Offer
2. As Is 19. Fix Up 36. Owner Finance
3. Bank 20. Fixer 37. Owner Financing
4. Bank Owned 21. Flexible 38. Owner Will Carry
5. Cash Only 22. Flip 39. Probate
6. Cash Sale 23. Flipper 40. Reduced
7. Cheap 24. Foreclosure 41. Rehab
8. Code 25. Handyman 42. REO
9. Condemned 26. Investor 43. ROI
10. Desperate 27. Investment 44. Seller Finance
11. Discount 28. Land Contract 45. Seller Financing
12. Divorce 29. Lease Option 46. Special
13. Equity 30. Motivated 47. TLC
14. Estate 31. Moving 48. Ugly
15. Financing Available 32. Must Sell 49. Violation
16. Fire Sale 33. OBO 50. Wholesale
17. Fix 34. Off Market

Note: You can get the full list (and a lot of other stuff) when you download the Ad Posting Kit (and don't forget to use the $20 discount coupon code when you sign up for the REtipster email list! Subscribe Now)!

Remember, if you’re going this route, you’ll have to be smart about it.

You can waste A LOT of time just looking line-by-line at every single listing (and the vast majority of these listings won’t be worth your while).

Use the search functionality to keep the fluff out of your searches and home in on exactly what you’re looking for.

Craigslist Search Alerts

As you can probably imagine, searching through Craigslist every day (even when you’re filtering your searches the right way) can take a lot of time and attention.

Most of us have plenty of other things to do, so it’s not a bad idea to automate as much of the process as possible.

At one point, it was possible to automatically scan Craigslist and sort the data into a Google Sheet with a service called IFTTT. Unfortunately, the service no longer offers the ability to do this.

As an alternative, it is possible to save the search for whatever opportunities you’re looking for.

craigslist real estate

This allows you to create daily (and sometimes more frequent, depending on your level of specificity) email alerts that come directly to your inbox whenever something new hits the market that matches your search criteria.

While it’s not quite as organized as automatically plugging data into a tidy Google Sheet, it’s still a feasible way to keep an eye on things from your inbox and simply click on the items that interest you.

RELATED: How to Find Homes For Sale By Owner On Craigslist (And Why You Might Not Want To)

Don’t Forget…

If you search for deals like this, do it daily and stay on top of your leads. These listings are constantly turning over, with new opportunities showing up each day that weren’t there before. If you expect any success with this, you must take the process seriously.

Develop a system (even if it’s just a spreadsheet) to track which listings you’ve contacted – and try not to overcomplicate it!

Lastly, remember to follow up. Don’t just take the one-and-done approach; contact people two or three times before you move on.

Many sellers will ignore or overlook the first inquiry that comes in, but when the inquiry comes in, again and again, it becomes much harder to miss or ignore. The gold is in the follow-up.

Housing Wanted Ads

Another way to make motivated sellers come to you (rather than searching for them) is to start posting “housing wanted” ads.

This works great on Craigslist and can even work on Facebook Marketplace and certain Facebook Groups (when the rules allow it).

Posting ads is pretty easy. It’s just a matter of figuring out where these ads need to be posted on whichever platform you’re using and then typing out a clear, compelling message explaining that you’re a real estate investor who can close quickly can (preferably) pay cash. Let them know how to contact you and/or where to submit their property information if they want to receive an offer.

Below are a few examples you can work with (all the images were created on Canva using free stock images from Unsplash).

These can be used both on Craigslist (post in the “Housing Wanted” section) and on Facebook (post a “HOUSES WANTED!” ad for a price of $1 in the Home Sales category and include a picture and a short description of what you’re doing).

houses wanted ad

land wanted ad

sell property fast cash

we buy houses fast cash

Like I said, if you want to create images like this, it can be done in minutes for free with Canva. I’ve got a lot more of them you can use! You can get them all in the Ad Posting Kit.

Ad Posting Kit Add to Cart Button

Don't forget to use the $20 discount coupon code you'll get when you sign up for the REtipster email list!

Now, regarding what to say in your ads and images, here’s one example to work with…

Example 1 (Long Version)


We Buy Houses FAST for CASH!


Do you own a house you don’t want or can’t afford?

Does selling it sound like a hassle?


Our company offers fast cash for houses and multi-family properties throughout <<State, County or City>> – including (but not limited to) these areas:

– Area 1

– Area 2

– Area 3

If you need help selling your real estate quickly, WE WANT TO BUY IT NOW AND WE’RE PREPARED TO PAY CASH FOR IT.

Our firm has been in business for over ten years and we have many happy clients who were happy to have cash instead of the burden of an unwanted property.

If this sounds like you, reach out and let us know!

Once we hear from you, we’ll send you a link to this page: <<your website>>, where you can submit your property information. Once we have a look at your property, we will send you a cash offer within 48 hours.

Alternatively, you can call our office at: <<your phone number>> to speak with someone directly about the property you’d like to sell.

Advantages of working with us:

– You won’t pay for any agents or commissions

– We will cover the cost of all repairs. We buy AS-IS

– Back due property taxes or liens? Let us pay for them!

– Don’t worry about cleaning your property.

– Simple, fast and straightforward process

– We will close on YOUR timeline!

We hope to hear from you!

You can use the example above. Honestly, writing your ad isn’t that difficult—it just requires a little bit of thought and creativity about the service you have to offer in your market.

Tip: I usually try to include at least one image with these posts because it helps with SEO and will make your ads appear in more search results.

Setting Realistic Expectations

Even though these ads can result in some new leads, don’t expect the floodgates to open when you post ads like this.

If you have no existing stream of leads coming your way, I think this kind of ad posting strategy is worth doing (simply because it’s free and it’s easy), but it’s also not the most high-impact.

Many motivated sellers AREN’T actively searching for these ads on Craiglist and Facebook, and you’ll probably encounter plenty of other investors posting similar ads in your market. It can be challenging to stand out, so don’t be surprised if you only get a few legitimate monthly responses to these ads.

And remember – wherever you send these people, ensure you (or someone) are paying attention to that channel. As crazy as it may sound, many people spend time on this kind of free advertising and then don’t follow up with people who respond to it. It’s a total waste.

If you’re going to do the first half of the process (by posting an ad), make sure you’re also doing the second half (by following up).

Ad Posting Directories

Now that you know how to use these clever “hacks” to find deals on Craigslist and Facebook, it probably wouldn't hurt to know of a few other honorable mentions where you can apply many of the same tricks, right?

In this video, I’ll show you several other notable websites you can use to put together a simple listing and post it for thousands of new eyeballs to see.

Click here to see the full list of websites.

As you’ll probably recognize, some of these websites are more established; some have a more targeted audience for real estate, and some get significantly more traffic than others. So, to keep it simple, I will start with my current “Top 10” and follow the rest of the websites currently operating on the internet.

About the author

Seth Williams is the Founder of REtipster.com - an online community that offers real-world guidance for real estate investors.

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