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You Inc./Users/adamp/Desktop/Stuff for FAR/Magazine Assets/JUN08/Images/YouInce

Craigslist Classifieds:Advertise Properties Free Online Follow this sales associate’s tips and get more Internet leads.

In his former life, Joe Dallorso was a Maine artisan who created wooden salad bowls in his garage and sold them to people all over the country via the Internet. He’s now a real estate sales associate with Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty in Ocala. Although selling houses is a far cry from selling salad bowls, his sales tactic remains the same: use Internet-driven promotions.

For the past year, Dallorso has been using a tried-and-true—and free—method to promote his listings: craigslist (www.craigslist.com). Craigslist is an Internet portal that features local classifieds and forums for 450 cities worldwide. Dallorso’s community in Ocala was added in the past year.

When people click on Dallorso’s craigslist postings seeking more information, they’re led to his Web site, http://ocalahousehunter.com/real-estate. All told, he receives 90 percent of his business from customers in the Northeast and the Midwest who make that first connection with him online. Here’s how to use craigslist to announce your Web presence to far-flung locales:

1. Use It to the Hilt
The system works this way: To post an ad, go to www.craigslist.com, select your city and then click on “post to classifieds” on the left-hand side of the page. The next page asks, “What type of posting is this?” Click on “housing offered,” which leads you to a page where you click on “real estate for sale.” The next page is the form where you type the information about your listing and then submit it.

You may post up to four ads at a time, with photos and descriptions of each property. In each ad, you may also include a link to your personal Web site. You may include your e-mail
address or have craigslist keep your contact information anonymous and forward e-mail to you.

“Unlike a lot of other free searches, they don’t try to intercept the customer in any way,” Dallorso says. 

One caveat: The most recently posted ads are at the top of the daily list, and as each day passes, your ad will move farther down. Once every two weeks, Dallorso rotates four different properties into the site, replacing previously posted listings to keep his name always near the top.

2. Drive Visitors to Your Web Site
Dallorso logs on to his own Web site as the administrator and calls up the list of “referrers,” or those sites where visitors had been before they clicked onto his site. This allows him to measure the effectiveness of his craigslist postings. “I probably get several a day. It depends on how high the ad is on the list,” he says.

Remember that craigslist is just a vehicle to show off your site. Dallorso doesn’t concern himself with actually picking up a buyer from craigslist. Its purpose, he says, is to drive people to his Web site. Once they’ve found him, he makes sure his personal site has enough interesting information to keep people there for a while and bookmark it.

“You’d think that you’d only attract buyers from craigslist, but I also attract sellers—people with vacant lots and houses within subdivisions [where I have listings] already!” Dallorso says.

3. Create a Sense of Welcoming
The informality of craigslist alone communicates that you’re down to earth, Dallorso says. He emphasizes that he relocated to Florida from Maine, and as a result, he understands the challenge of finding a real estate professional who can be trusted.

He follows the same folksy formula for his site as he did for his wooden bowl business. The site features photos of a smiling Dallorso with his dog, Rathbone. It also includes detailed information about the Ocala area—even exclamatory notes about the area’s lack of hurricane history. The approach works for both buyers and sellers.

“I think if you can get people to like you online, they will contact you,” Dallorso says. “That’s why they’re online looking for houses and, ultimately, for someone to help them. It’s especially true for people [who are] out of state looking to move a long distance to Florida.”