Can Rental Listing Sites Compete with Craigslist?

by Christopher Berkompas on July 28, 2010 · 5 comments

in Uncategorized

Our recent rental listing site report underscored the fact that Craigslist commands a strong presence in the search engines when potential tenants search for rental property. This, in addition to Craigslist’s large and loyal userbase, has arguably made it the most widely used “rental” site on the web.

Dave Dugdale, founder of, recently posted a great interview with David Borden discussing the challenges and opportunities presented by Craigslist to the rental listing industry. (Click through to see the video.)

I see three important takeaways from this for owners of rental sites:

  1. User experience is key, and it really shouldn’t be difficult for a specialized site to do a better job. However, remember that Craigslist has two native advantages: tons of content, which users want to see, and a very simple, completely familiar interface that everyone already knows how to use. So, user experience should not be confused with simply having more features, your site also needs to be really intuitive.
  2. Rental scams still abound on Craigslist, and if a rental site does a better job of shutting down this activity, it could be an important selling point for users.
  3. Because Craigslist does not allow companies to competitively differentiate their listings, the shelf-life of a rental listing is very low. There is money to be made in allowing companies to compete.
Avric Inc. October 25, 2010 at 7:07 am

One of the thing I noticed about Craigslist is that it is like a huge garage sale. It is not specifically for apartment rentals but a melting pot of jobs, for sale, used stuff ads. I prefer to look in professional rentals websites where there is more than 4 pictures and a fully detailed description of the apartment I am looking for.

Mike in Indianapolis September 21, 2011 at 5:17 am

I think you hit the nail on the head about the scams lowering the user experience. We deal in resale and property management and get calls on these scams all the time. If they don’t get that under control, the user will no longer want anything to do with CL.

Property Managment In Bakersfield April 3, 2012 at 6:49 pm

I used to use CL alot in the past but I’ve achieved more with word of mouth for our rentals and now using a property management team to fill our units as well.

PMVnetwork August 6, 2012 at 8:58 am

A good analogy: CL is like nosey neighbors. A pain in the neck when they’re in your business….but useful when you need the latest scoop. Treat it like a necessary evil….it feels better.

Al @ Leading Landlord September 5, 2013 at 11:19 am

I’m in a turn around neighborhood so it’s critical to pitch our vacancies to people outside the area. CL is a big help in this area. I perfer folks that search CL over those that see our for rent sign.

CL applicants are just more sofisticated and easier to deal with. That’s just my experience.

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