Being a landlord isn’t easy, but one of the most difficult and important tasks that any property owner faces is finding high-quality tenants. If you’re interested in finding the best free rental listing sites, you’ll want to take a look at both Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist.
While both of these sites are less regulated than other big players in the rental listing game (Zillow, Apartments.com, etc.), you might not want to overlook them. There are some unique pros and cons to each platform, which we’ll explore in this article along with some of the other best free rental listing sites.
How quickly you fill vacancies can have a huge impact on your rental property ROI. Making sure your property is listed in the right places is, therefore, an essential part of being a successful rental owner.
According to the 2019 Renter Insight and Digital Engagement Survey, 25% of respondents used Craiglist to find apartments, while 24% used Facebook. Sites that ranked even higher were:
Rent.com was also used by 24% of respondents, while ApartmentFinder, ApartmentGuide, Yelp, Apartment Ratings, and HotPads all were not as popular as either Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.
While Zillow, Apartments.com, Realtor.com, and a Google search may have been more popular for the people that responded to the survey, it’s worth noting that the most popular methods for finding housing can be very specific to a location.
For example, you might find that your rentals in a college town receive far more responses when listed on Facebook Marketplace than Zillow, while the opposite might be true in another city.
Though Facebook has been around for nearly 20 years, its Marketplace feature is still relatively new in the grand scheme of things (particularly when compared to Craigslist, which appeared on the scene in 1995.)
Introduced in 2016, Marketplace allowed users to buy and sell all kinds of things locally. The next year, Facebook made it possible for people to create property rental listings. FB Marketplace quickly became a strong competitor in the rental space against Craigslist.
What’s good about Facebook Marketplace for rental listings, and what’s not so great?
Here are some of the major pros of using Facebook Marketplace to list your vacant apartments and homes:
Of course, there are always two sides to every coin. Facebook Marketplace, like Craigslist, isn’t a highly regulated space and therefore has its fair share of scammers and low-quality tenants. It also isn’t as anonymous as Craigslist, which can be a good or a bad feature, depending on your perspective.
On the one hand, your property listings are connected to your personal or business profile on Facebook, which some might see as a privacy concern while others might see it as a positive marketing attribute.
On the other hand, you are better able to see who the prospective tenants are that are contacting you about your listings, which isn’t always as possible on Craiglist, depending on how much personal info the tenant provides.
Craigslist is an old standard for apartment and single-family home listings online. This classified advertisements site has been around since the 90s when it first began as an email distribution list among friends in the San Francisco Bay Area.
More than twenty years since its inception, Craigslist now serves more than seventy countries worldwide.
When you have an investment property ready to rent out and want to spread the word, creating a Craigslist post might be one of your first thoughts.
There are a number of advantages to using Craigslist to make apartment listing posts, including:
That all sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
There are a few negative things to report about Craigslist, however. While this is ultimately a very valuable resource that is free and easy to use, it’s worth noting that there can be a lot of scammers on Craigslist, and the tenants you might find that a lot of the tenants that respond to your listing don’t meet your criteria for being high-quality tenants.
That being said, your experience with posting apartment listings on Craigslist can vary widely depending on the type of property and the location. Since Craigslist is set up by city or region, all geographic regions don’t necessarily have the exact same characteristics. If you have multiple rental properties in different states, for example, you might find that Craigslist is a great place to find new tenants in one area and not worth your time in another.
As a final point, Craigslist has a fairly no-frills UI/UX. It basically hasn’t changed at all since the 90s. While some people might find this nostalgic and practically novel at this point, others might prefer the more modern interface of Facebook Marketplace.
For some landlords and tenants, the simple interface of Craiglist might be easier to use than that of FB Marketplace. For others, though, a more modern UI/UX is preferable and increases trust in the platform.
While Facebook Marketplace and Craiglist might be the first platforms that come to mind when you think about listing your rental online for free, they aren’t the only players in the game. Let’s look at a few of the other options available that don’t cost a dime (or at least have free posting options.)
Some of these sites are entirely free, some offer free and paid options, and others offer a set number of listings for free before requiring that you shell out some cash. Another pricing structure that appears is allowing posts to be free for a set period of time before costing money.
Are you ready to buy a new rental to add to your portfolio? Make sure you check out our rental property calculators to ensure all of the numbers lean in your favor.