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Whether you are looking to rent an apartment, buy a home or acquire a commercial property chances are you can find it on Craigslist. However the search function of Craigslist is stuck in 90's, it's time consuming and cumbersome to find what you are looking for. Use this life hack to setup an iGoogle dashboard that will feed you exactly the kinds of property you are looking for instantaneously.
Using Craigslist to set up a real estate monitor.
1. Set up an iGoogle Account
iGoogle is a customizable home page browser dashboard. You will need a Gmail account. Head over tohttp://www.google.com/ig to set up your free dashboard.
2. Create Tabs
On the left side of the screen you will see the home tab. Click on it, then click on the little drop down arrow, click Add a tab. Name this tab something like Real Estate Monitor.
3. Get the Craigslist Monitor
Now we want to add a gadget that will feed us our real estate listings off CL. Click Add a Gadget button in the upper right hand of the iGoogle dashboard. I recommend the Craigslist Monitor. Click add it now and you will now see it in your iGoogle Real Estate Tab. I recommend adding 3-5 of these gadgets to the Real Estate tab.
4. Get CL Search URLs
Now it's time to head over the real estate Ap/Housing for rent section of craigslist for your city. In the search field enter some criteria of what you are looking for, such as; neighborhood, price, description, etc. You will notice that each result creates a unique URL address. For example, a search for 'Denver high rise' produces this URL:http://denver.craigslist.org/search/apa?query=high+rise&srchType=A&minAsk=&maxAsk=&bedrooms=
What's really cool is that as new properties are added to CL that match this search description this URL page will update to show the new properties instantaneously. Find 3-5 search phrases that target the neighborhood, price range and property description of what you want.
5. Add the Real Estate Feeds to iGoogle
Now go back to your real estate iGoogle tab and click the little drop down gear button in the upper right hand corner of the Craigslist Monitor gadget, click Edit settings. For Title enter a short description of feed (Downtown condos), for URL enter the complete URL address you got from the search you did in step 4 (make sure to include the http://). Click save and voila! Now a real time feed of the most recently added properties matching the search are going to be in your iGoogle dashboard.
While this might sound a little complicated to set up it's actually pretty easy to do and it saves you a huge amount of time over searching through CL's real estate section. It takes literally a few seconds to glance at your iGoogle dashboard and see the new properties posted in the last few days or hours. This also works in the roommate search or commercial real estate sections of CL. A few other things to keep in mind:
• Respond immediately to postings that you are interested in. Craigslist's real estate section gets a huge amount of traffic so you can be sure that a lot of other people will see the property you a interested in. The faster you can contact the private owner and arrange to see the property the better your chances are of getting it. If a listing contains a phone number always call that first before sending an email.
• If a property listing on Craigslist is professional looking with lots of good photos and bullet pointed listing description chances are it's been posted by a property management company or realtor who you will have to deal with instead of a private owner. I've found that the best deals on CL are unprofessional looking postings.
• Look for a property that is available for move in immediately or very soon.
Dirty Trick: If you see a particularly good deal come across your real estate monitor you want to minimize your competition from other renters. After you respond to the CL posting you may want to flag (upper right of the CL posting) it so that CL deletes the posting. Flag it from your browser, then use a website like Pagewash.com to block your IP address and flag it again, you may also want to flag it from your smartphone browser or a friends computer to ensure it gets removed from Craigslist.