May 24, 2024


Mad about real estate

Does Craigslist Really work to rent your home in Mount Pleasant SC?

Does Craigslist Really work to rent your home in Mount Pleasant SC?

After purchasing 3 cash flow properties in Mount Pleasant, I was in the position where I needed to get them rented, and fast. We all know the first years of payments to the bank are mostly interest, so you might as well be using someone else’s money rather than burning your own. My agent had introduced me to a property manager who recommended that I furnish the houses before I rent them. She told me the spread between the mortgage and rent would be higher. What she didn’t tell me was that furnished rentals were more conducive to short term tenants and that she got a nice commission every time new tenants came in! Thankfully I only furnished 2 out of the 3 homes before I caught on, but it was still an expensive lesson. So an aside to all of this, be careful who you get involved with when using any service and always get references!

So after terminating the agreement with the property manager, I began contacting everyone and anyone who did property management in the area. The best deal I found through property management companies was $250 setup (internal fee) and 5{ef6a2958fe8e96bc49a2b3c1c7204a1bbdb5dac70ce68e07dc54113a68252ca4} of the ratified lease agreement… which boils down to ½ month rent + $250.

Then I started asking the companies and people I was speaking with, “what exactly does a property management company does to get the house rented”. The key tasks were:

  • Staging the home
  • Showing the home
  • Placing an ad in the Post and Courier
  • Placing an ad at (the worst did this once every month, the best… every 3 days)
  • Sharing your property rental needs with colleagues
  • Collecting the rent and forwarding the rent to you

Realtors and agents have access to the Multiple Listing Service (also known as MLS), which is a powerful tool to get your property in front of other agents who may have someone looking for what you are selling or renting. You can get your property on the MLS by using an agent or going to a direct listing service for a fee (usually about the same as any setup fees you are charged with property management companies).

Admittedly, I have some real estate experience, but more as a hobby than a profession. I have agents handle my real estate investments up north but down here in Mount Pleasant South Carolina, I did not know anyone and my first experience with a property manager left a very bad taste in my mouth. The others seemed like they could handle the work, but I was burning through my reserves pretty fast and all the Short Sales in Charleston were keeping me up at night.

So I started posting the property on craigslist…

At first I would post once a day, manually. I created my ads in a Word document so I could copy and paste the text body and title, and I would punch the rest in. It only took a short time to notice my ads were getting buried in the hundreds of ads being placed each day. Then I noticed one person’s ads were sticking out, and they weren’t mine!

There was a gentleman who was using a funky looking arrow at the begging of his ad post that made his ads stand out. So just like any true man of academia, I copied his bullet! Now it was easier to see my ads and it motivated me to post several times a day, it was time consuming, but I was starting to get some calls. By now I had burned through a second month of mortgage payments for 3 properties and was feeling pretty motivated to get these things houses rented.

The problem was the time it was taking to do 3 postings 3 to 5 times a day, while trying to run around and do showings, and to do my day job as well. Then I automated. I tried several different posters but each kept getting caught up on the captcha (where you have to type in the letters you see to confirm you are a real live human that is doing the posting). To get it fully automated, I would have to pay a fee or buy expensive software that could read the captcha codes.

During this time, one of the 3 houses got rented, but it was far from celebration time. I now knew that craigslist was having an effect. Even after the house got rented, I had to go back and delete the ads that had been posted so the calls would stop!

Soon I found a software tool that would automate the ad the submission process all the way up to the captcha part, I would manually type in the captcha, and move on to the next ad. It took a little time to find the sweet spot for the rental price, I slowly dropped the price lower and lower every week until the phone started to ring. Now we were cooking. Calls were coming in, the properties were being shown (by me and my wife), and things were looking up. Then the next month of mortgage payments hit.

I was in a panic, I was ready to do anything to get these places rented, even take a loss. Just when things were looking dim, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to hold on to my investments, a life changing thing happened… Steve Banis from South Carolina Homes, Inc. called me. It turns out, it was his bullet I had copied on craigslist and he wanted to see who the guy was that was putting up 5 times the number of his bullets everyday! As fate would have it, Steve and I hit it off immediately, from our thoughts on the real estate market to just our everyday beliefs and codes of conduct. It didn’t take long for me to take a liking to Steve, he was one of those guys that you come across once in a lifetime, maybe twice. I feel twice as bless because as our relationship developed. I became acquainted with Steve’s partner Matt Napier (completing my quota of once in a lifetime meetings) and one day after the second home had rented, we all (including my wife) met for lunch.

Now the I’s above would suggest it was all me doing this work. This is me taking credit for my wife’s work. I have a full time day job as a Network Engineer at my consulting firm, Technology Solutions by N.K.Narulacovering Charleston SC and West Chester PA, and my wife has always handed the accounting and day to day management of my real estate investments in Arizona, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. So it wasn’t a big stretch for her to take on the semi automated posting once I had hammered out the kinks. She currently does Real Estate Support Services in the Mount Pleasant area in South Carolina.

Meeting Steve and Matt was a ray of sunshine. Ever since we got to Mount Pleasant it seemed like just about everyone we met was ready to take, take, take. I guess when you’re buying houses you should expect that, but we wear our hearts on our sleeves on our shirts and were new to the area, we wanted to make friends. Goes to show, trying to be treated fairly and kindly by treating others fairly and kindly is like being in a lion’s den and expecting not to get eaten because you are a vegetarian. That’s not saying you should be mean or not treat people fairly, just be careful… it only takes one bad person to really make your life miserable!

Steve posted my final property (the one with the largest mortgage) on his website at and sent a mass mailing out to his contact list which consisted of thousands of people. Here’s the kicker… Steve and Matt did all this for free! In return I assisted them with some technology needs, but it was evident, these guys were selfless individuals motivated by helping others. If you have real estate needs… I whole heartedly suggest that you enter your information at the website and they will
call you back very promplty!

It didn’t take long after that, the house rented but it was unclear where they went to first, Steve’s website or craigslist… but they did go to both!

Steve and Matt keep in touch with my wife and I to this day and we talk on the phone quite often. We never miss an opportunity to get together to catch up and compare our thoughts and ideas on how we can help each other improve our businesses and stream line our methods, all with the focus of helping others.

It should go without saying but for the current business climate of rudeness and greed; always remember that the relationship you have with people you know and work with is more important than any single deal. When you put people first you will win. Put money first and you will lose. ~anon

Bottom line, does craigslist work… YES, and it doesn’t hurt to have friends like Steve and Matt, and I can’t forget to mention… the help and support of a wonderful wife!


Neil Narula