Best Practices to Avoid Craigslist Ads Deletion

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10 December 2013

the questionnaireWe at YGL recently spent a lot of time studying Craigslist deletion patterns.  Here is a summarized list of the best practices we found.  Hopefully this list will help you post more successfully.

First and foremost, keep separate Craigslist accounts when posting from home and the office.  When posting from home, you are likely the only person posting from that location.  While at the office, chances are multiple people are posting.  You do not know how others are posting, what tools they use, and what boards they are posting to, and not to mention multiple people from one location will look very spammy to Craigslist.  Keeping your accounts separate will make sure your home account (most likely to in good standing) does not get “polluted” by other people’s behaviors in the office.

Keep your ad content varied.  Craigslist has an algorithm to detect spammy and duplicated ads.  It is important to write good ad descriptions.  We recommend writing multiple versions of ad descriptions for best results. Using one generic description for multiple ads is a NO NO.

DO NOT post to multiple boards with one Craigslist account.   Sometimes you might have multiple listings in very far locations, which might need you to post to different boards (like Boston vs. North Shore). Posting many ads to multiple board is a NO NO.

DO NOT post simultaneously using one Craigslist account on multiple computers.  Do not switch computers while using the same Craigslist account within 24 hours.  To be safe, within 24 hours, only post from one location, with one computer, and one Craigslist account.

DO NOT switch between your Craigslist accounts in one location frequently.  Switching between many Craigslist accounts in one location is a NO NO.

Post locally, this means do not use proxies and VPNs, particularly public ones.  Each internet connection has an IP address, kind of like your mailing address, which is how others identify you on the Internet.  You should post from a local location.  For example, if you are posting from New York to the Boston board, Craigslist knows and will mark you as a spammer.

Don’t expect 100% go through rate.  A 20% deletion rate is normal, particularly if you are posting every day.  High deletion rate indicates something is wrong with either your location, your account or the ads you are posting.

If you are following these rules, yet still experiencing high rate of deletion, try these things:

  • If you are using any posting tools, try without it.
  • Make sure you are the only person posting at your location.
  • Get a new IP, clear your browser’s cookies and cache, and register a new Craigslist account.
  • If you are using an ad template (only available for NYC and Boston), try a different template that you have never used before.  Better yet, do not use any template, just post some text ads.

If after everything you still can’t figure out what the issue is, please contact us at

The Ongoing War Between Zillow, Trulia and

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24 November 2013

 Zillow, Trulia and (owned by Move, Inc.) are the top three visited real estate websites.  All three companies, at this point, are public traded companies.  They are practically identical in terms of functionalities, while fighting to win the same audiences. The three companies have also acquired many smaller companies and startups, in order to grow their product lines.  Who will be the winner of this ongoing war to become the default consumer online real estate portal?  There are two schools of thoughts.

Some people believe that the real estate online portal market is a winner take all market.  And in the next 2 – 3 years, a winner will emerge while others will whither.  I believe this scenario is possible.  After all, how many different ways can online real estate searches be done?  All search portals are very similar in terms of functionality.  At the end of the day, it all comes down to who does better marketing and has more comprehensive listings data.  If one company eventually achieves total dominance, it would be interesting to see the kind of influence it will have on real estate landscape.

The other school of thought is that instead of one company dominating the consumer online search portal, there would be more companies joining the race and filling different niches.  The landscape would become more fragmented.  Since the three companies went public, they have been aggressively acquiring smaller companies.  Their acquisitions have attracted more capital investments and top entrepreneur talents into the real estate space that has never seen before.  We see many new startups with lots of promise.

Which way the market end up heading, I think largely depends on if startups can have easy access to listings data.  As competition heats up, the portals could make listings data harder to obtain.  Brokers who feel threatened could also close off data access.  Without easy access to listings data, real estate startups will have hard time survive.  Otherwise, if listings data become easier to obtain and to work with (it has been traditionally difficult), many consumer portals will thrive to serve different niches.

Is Zillow and Trulia’s growth sustainable?

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17 November 2013

image_growth1I’ve talked to many brokers who to seem to think that the Zillow and Trulia’s model and grow is unsustainable.  It is also interesting that just a few weeks ago, Zillow and Trulia both reported significant revenue growth.  Can Zillow and Trulia maintain their growth?

Zillow and Trulia generates most of their revenue from broker advertising fees.  They do that by attracting consumers to visit their sites (and mobile app), then in turn sell ads to brokers to advertise to consumers.  Based on NAR survey, 90% of consumers start their search on the internet already, which suggests to me that the room for consumer audience growth is very limited.  The population is of certain size that cannot magically grow larger,   which means that the audience size is mostly at its peak.  Then how can their revenue continue to go up?

I think it comes  down to 2 parts play:

1.  Getting more money from brokers.  Some consumers are more urgent than others. Their quality as leads (to the brokers) are not the same.  And the willingness of brokers to pay are not the same.  Good brokers are willing to pay more than the average ones, since good brokers have higher closing rates.  This means that for Zillow and Trulia, there is still room to grow the revenue by essentially charging good brokers more for better leads.  I will try to elaborate on this in a future article.

2.  Expanding product offerings.  This is already happening at a rapid pace.  Since IPO, both companies have been buying other companies to supplement their product line.  Both are trying to expand into brokers’ workflow by offering tools such as CRM and drip campaigns.  And both are expanding into the rentals market.

I believe whether if Zillow and Trulia can continue to grow their revenues mostly depend on if the two factors listed above can be executed successfully.

Bloomberg Reporting on Urban Compass

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15 November 2013

Ok, ok.  I am obsessed about Urban Compass, I admit.  I think their model is fascinating.

They are claiming that they are generating 1 millon dollars in revenue per month.  Assuming that 80% of that is from rental fees, and $1800 fee per rental.  That means they do 444 deals a month, about 15 deals a day.  That number seems way high.

I would love to hear your opinions on Urban Compass.  Send us an email or comment on the bottom.

Urban Compass, The New Force in Real Estate (Part 3 / 3)

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12 November 2013

urbancompass-neighborhood-guideUrban Compass Focuses on Customer Satisfaction

Some think because Urban Compass approaches the rental process with an assembly line approach, therefore they cannot provide a good customer experience.  I think they are very wrong.  Urban Compass understands the importance of customer service and what makes their young customers happy.  If my guess is correct, they will refer the customer to someone else, if they cannot satisfy their need.  As you will see in the next section, their business model depends on good customer experience.

Their neighborhood specialists are paid not based on commission, but with a salary plus satisfaction bonus.  You might ask, would’t agents lose motivation if they are paid a salary?  Trust me, their founders are from wall street, they know how to motivate people.


How Urban Compass Makes Money With Half Fee

Urban Compass charges renters and buyers half fee.  An experienced broker knows that the office wouldn’t make money on half fee.  How does Urban Compass make money then?  Here is the brilliant part, they don’t; at least not from the transaction fees.  I believe the half fee they charge are only used for paying the front line employees, the neighborhood specialists, the phone people, etc.  They are banking on making money after tenants or buyers moves in.

Typically, an agent’s job is done when transaction closes.  Urban Compass, on the other hand, is going to make money after the customer moves in.  A customer would have many needs after moving to a new place, such as renovation and insurance.  That is a great opportunity for Urban Compass to make money.  Assuming if the customer had a great experience with Urban Compass, he or she would believe Urban Compass’ vendors would also provide the same quality services and products (hence why great customer satisfaction is crucial to their success).  This business model requires scale, which a traditional brokerage cannot compete with.



I think Urban Compass is the most innovative and disruptive company that the industry has seen since Redfin.  Combing half fee, neighborhood specialization, hip branding and a different business model, if done right, it would be deadly effective.  However, due to the scale of operation needed for specialization, their current approach would most likely only work in major cities.

I sincerely root for their success (innovation is needed in this industry), I also think they pose a terminal threat to many traditional brokerage firms, particularly rental agencies with few exclusive listings.  With the new money they just raised, it is only a matter of time before they expand to other cities.  When that happens, most traditional brokerages would not even know what hit them.  At this time, brokerage firms should examine their internal procedures to see how they can streamline their own processes.

Urban Compass, The New Force in Real Estate (Part 2 / 3)

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09 November 2013


Urban Compass’ Branding Connects With Younger Generation

Urban Compass is hip, and you will notice that they do not present themselves as a real estate brokerage.  In fact, Urban Compass aligns their image against the real estate brokerages, as the savior from the jungle that is the NYC real estate market (Urban Compass is a great name).

The NAR recently released survey results claiming that consumers are more likely to use agents as the internet usage went up.  I suspect that those results would be very different should it only count the younger generation in urban settings.  This is the demographic that Urban Compass is going after.  Young people grew up using technology; they value transparency, openness and speed that the traditional brokerages lack.  I suspect the younger generation would overwhelming choose to use Urban Compass.


Urban Compass Has The Technology Advantage

I would boldly claim that few brokerage firms, if any at all in real estate today, understands and uses technology better than Urban Compass.  Ori, the main founder of Urban Compass, is a technology wiz who has sold 2 tech companies to Google and Twitter.  He leads a great team of technologist who are set on transforming real estate through technology.

While Urban Compass is only 9 months old, but given time I think their tech team will bring unprecedented level of data transparency, speed, efficiency to consumers through technology.  Their technology advantage would be almost impossible for other brokerages to compete with.  For one, traditional brokerages lack the raw talent in technologist.  Second, their existing brokerage business model prevents them from providing the transparency and openness needed.

Here is Urban Compass’ team page, see how many PhDs and top school graduates there are:

Urban Compass, The New Force in Real Estate (Part 1 / 3)

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07 November 2013


Urban Compass is dangerous; it is young and hip; and it is everything that traditional brokerages are not.  It will change the major metropolitan real estate landscape as we see it today.  There, I said it.  They raised a total of 28 million dollars, which makes them currently the most well funded startup in the industry.  While they are currently only testing waters in NYC, they will certainly be expanding into other metropolitan areas soon enough.

While Urban Compass has attracted lots of press lately, very few articles shed light on how Urban Compass business model actually works from a real estate perspective.  Let me try to put in my 2 cents.

Disclaimer:  These are purely my personal opinions based on my experiences in the industry.

The Assembly Line Approach to Real Estate Rental / Sale

Typically, a real estate agent is a contractor.  He or she works independently from each other (except when doing co-brokes).  Each agent needs to do their own prospecting, scheduling, showings, negotiating and etc.  To do everything well, it requires a range of skills including marketing, sales, customer service and attention to detail.  Unfortunately, few people are good at everything at once, which I believe is one reason why there are few good agents.

Urban Compass is taking the assembly line approach to real estate.  The logic goes that someone who is good at selling should always be selling.  Someone who is good at the phone should handle the lead qualifying and the scheduling.  Having the best sales person do anything else but selling is not time well spent.  Urban Compass have neighborhood specialists who handle all the showing and do all the selling.  I believe they have different teams of people that do prospecting (through website and media), qualifying (website + phone), paperwork and money collection.  Each team specializes in what they do.  As a whole it is much more effective than independent agents operating on their own.

The most effective agents know his/her neighborhoods and inventory (apartments and houses) by heart.  However when agents operate independently, they tend to go all over the place to do business, since they can’t generate enough leads to specialize.  Urban Compass makes their agents specialize in neighborhoods, hence they are called neighborhood specialists.  This specialization leads to higher effectiveness, making average agents good, and good agents great.

By combining neighborhood specialization and their assembly line approach, I firmly believe it makes Urban Compass a lean and mean machine, especially comparing to traditional real estate offices and agents.  I think it would be a good idea to learn from how Urban Compass streamline the rental and sales process and potentially adopt it for your own purpose.

Mobile APP Revamp

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19 September 2013

Today a new version of our iPhone app has been released, with the Android version soon to follow.  This is a major revamp as it provides a number of improvements.  We recommend all users to upgrade their existing version, or install it if you still haven’t tried it.


There is now a completely new theme to our app.  This should bring a more modern look, along with a new interface that accommodates our new features.


The new functionality in short is that most of the Dashboard feeds are now available on the mobile app.  You can easily filter through each type of the feeds by using the navigation menu on the bottom.  Each section will bring up its own corresponding feed.  Actionable items such as add or search are accessible on the upper right.  This feature will allow you to stay connected with listing and lead updates while on the road.  Especially when it comes to inner office posts.  You can not only view the posts, but also respond and create new ones.

This is only the first iteration of our planned development in bringing more power to users when on the road.  Stay tuned as we will have more exciting new features coming.

Lead System Revamp

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18 February 2013

We have been hard at work in giving our Lead system a full revamp.  Now that all the pieces are released, it is time for an update on what’s new and how it will benefit you.

New Features:

  • Status Tracking – Quickly see the next action required for a lead.
  • Email History – The system now keeps track of your entire email history between you and your lead seamlessly.
  • New Listing Notification – Get notified when new properties come on the market that fit your lead.
  • Direct Lead Insertion – Leads from auto syndication are now directly inserted into your account, saving you the trouble of manual entry.
  • Detailed Reports – Get a detailed break down on which source your leads are coming from.  See where your leads are dropping off, and how many leads it takes to close a deal.

In our opinion, the most important addition is the new lead statuses.  If you actively set your leads’ statuses, not only will you be able to tell what needs to be done next for each lead, you can also track your drop off points and closing rate (how many leads to close one deal).  Our goal is to help you identify where you and your agents can improve to close more deals.

The email history tracking will keep you more organized, as you can easily see the previous conversation history.  While the new listing notification tools will keep you more informed on the new properties that comes on the market when they are a fit for your lead.

Rearrange Photos Display Order for Office and Personal Website

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28 March 2012

You can now rearrange your photos display order for your office and personal website.

In the photo upload and management page, you will now see a move icon move_image on the upper left of every single photo.  By clicking and dragging the photo, you can rearrange the order in which it appears.

This new way of rearranging your photos has also been carried over to the ad template page.