Free – Not all it’s cracked up to be (or the downfall of Craigslist)

Internet savvy consumers are always looking for the Next Best Thing that’s supposed to revolutionize the way they do business.  One such Game Changer that hit the stage a few years ago was Craigslist.  This great bulletin-board style trading post offered a way to sell anything from concert tickets, junk from your attic, all the way to real estate.

Up until Craigslist made its debut in Chicago, the most popular “Alternative Media” outlet for renting out your apartment or posting your By-Owner real estate ad was an ad in the Chicago Reader. 


And for the following years, Craigslist was, indeed, a great tool for advertising real estate, especially apartments for rent. 

Real estate agents were terrified that the Internet, and Craigslist in particular, with its free and easy platform for reaching masses of Internet Empowered Consumers, would end the world as we know it.

As any poster of ads on Craigslist has noticed, lately, the relevance of the site as an outlet for useful real estate information has plummeted.

Joe at YoChicago notes:

Craigslist has become … almost totally dysfunctional as a way to find an apartment in Chicago.

Nearly 2,800 apartments ads were posted [on a typical day in August, 2009] on Craigslist. 650 of those (round numbers) came from Homescout and another 450 (round numbers) from the scammers in this post. The great majority of the rest also came from a small number of rental “services.”

As long as I’ve been around this industry the maggots have systematically set out to destroy the utility of any site or publication that draws an audience of rental prospects. They’ve succeeded, in my take, at destroying Craigslist.

Your Guide has found it infuriatingly difficult to post property information in the past few weeks as the Craigslist interface grinds to a halt during the input process.  The site inexplicably hangs for minutes at a time, often timing out causing me to have to start the process all over again.  Most of the time, I simply give up.

This week, the bulk upload interface that Craigslist offers to heavy advertisers stopped working, halting the upload for our company listing information in its tracks.  We haven’t heard whether a fix will be offered, or if the system has finally collapsed under the weight of all the junk postings being submitted.

In Real Estate Advertising, as in Life, it seems you get what you pay for.

And another New Paradigm seems to bite the dust.

  1. mac
    October 28, 2009 |
  2. October 28, 2009 |
  3. Jerry
    October 28, 2009 |
  4. Dan
    October 30, 2009 |