Company Blog

Craigslist: Friend or Foe?

By Brandon Debok | Published on June 20,2010 at 10:19PM

Friend or Foe 

Craigslist: FRIEND or FOE?

Last week I was asked to contribute to the Anchor Associates BLOG  about a topic I felt needed to be discussed. It took me a while to decide what to write about but the same topic I kept coming back to was “Craigslist Advertising!"
Craigslist: Friend or Foe? was born.

The thing I love about BLOGGING is the fact that I can write anything I want. It's not an editorial; an opinion piece if you will. That being said, I feel that I can speak freely on my "opinion" of this site so many people use every day.

Back in the Summer of 2000, a friend of mine who shall remain nameless knew Craig himself and shared with me this site that had just expanded into LA  (where I was residing at the time). Within days I was spending hours on the site searching the sale section for vintage furniture, looking for cars, community groups and even...wait for it... an apartment.

When I relocated to NYC early last year and decided to pursue my dream of Real Estate, it never occurred to me how often this tool is used here.  I am going to talk about the good and the bad (or the "friend or foe") of Craigslist in hopes to educate those who may not know what to look out for. 

Here are a couple of the Pros and Cons of Craigslist:

- Easy to access
- It's FREE!
- Has a lot of information
- Everyone uses it*

- Old (often outdated) information
- Not regulated by any Government Authority
- Misleading and Deceptive Practices (anyone can post ads on Craigslist)
- Everyone uses it*

*I noted "everyone uses it" as a Pro and Con because while it's a PRO to know you can find something there, it's just as much a CON because of over-saturation.

When you decide to start looking for an apartment and want to conduct research online, do you know what is real and what isn't? Who is posting the ads you see and like? How can so many brokers have so many great ads? 

Remember anyone can post an ad on Craigslist, so proceed with caution.
Now, the truth: Most Brokerages as a rule have access to all of the same open listings that most management companies have available in the city. According to the NY Department of State website as of May 2010 there are 120,000 Real Estate Salespersons and Brokers in NYC. Is it possible that there could be 120,000 listings available to rent? NO! Brokers advertise the same listings however use their own photos and verbiage. 

"Isn't that misleading?" Yes and no. Yes because someone looking for a place to rent on Craigslist thinks all ads are original and an exclusive to that brokerage; No because they are or WERE at one time actual listings. Also as a rule Brokers use listings that may or may not be available now but were at one time but there are similar places like it available to show you.

So what does that mean? It means it's all about the CALL! The internet and information gathered from there is a means to an end, not the end to all means! Take what you see online with a grain of salt, and contact a Broker you feel comfortable speaking with to ask the right questions.

Rental agents and Brokers should be looked upon the same way as if you were buying a home. The access an agent has for rental listings and ability to negotiate terms on your behalf is similar to that of buying or selling a property. Finding the right Broker and allowing them to help you is key. If you find they are not doing what you want, then you move on. It can be a huge waste of time and end up creating unnecessary frustration meeting with more than one Broker at a time. The reason is the chances of seeing the same apartment more than once is highly likely.
In conclusion, if you are internet savvy and are familiar with the power of the information you can reveal, sites, such as Craigslist, can be a great tool to help you gather information, but try not to believe from the start everything you see online. 

As I said before there 120,000 Brokers in NYC. It's impossible to update every listing every single day. If you remember this information, you will be able to formulate an action plan and be prepared and comfortable working with a Broker. It's not just about showing you units you see online, it goes far beyond that. It's about the value of a service that only we can provide based on our knowledge of the actual inventory that is available.

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