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How to Find FSBO Leads without Lifting a Finger

July 13 2016

fsboProspecting for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) properties has long been a favorite strategy of agents looking for potential listings. If this is a lead generation method you use (or want to), we've got a way to unearth FSBOs that requires virtually no effort on your part.

The star of today's show is a neat little service called IFTTT that lets you automate all kinds of digital tasks. We're going to show you how this tool can find FSBO leads on Craigslist and Twitter for you and send them to you automatically.

Why Craigslist and Twitter? It's because FSBOs (for the most part) are not on the MLS, so we have to seek them out from other sources. Twitter and Craigslist are two popular platforms that do-it-yourself sellers use to market their homes, so we're going to tap them for leads.

Ready? Let's get started!

How to Use IFTTT

Okay, we lied a little bit. You are going to have to lift a finger or two--but just barely! All you need to do is set up a task to trigger on IFTTT; in this case, finding FSBO leads on Craigslist and Twitter and sending them to yourself. Once that's done, everything will be automated indefinitely.

These automatic tasks or events are called a "recipe" on IFTTT. To begin creating your own recipes, sign up for a free account at Then, click your user name in the top right corner and select Create.

Now you'll see a screen that says, "If This Then That." Click "This" as prompted. This leads you to a list of "Trigger Channels." This is where we'll choose the first platform we want to mine for FSBO leads...

Steps for Finding FSBOs on Craigslist

Type in "Craigslist" in the channel search bar, and click on the Craigslist icon when it pops up. There's only one "Trigger" here to choose from, so click on "New post from search."

Next, open up your local version of Craigslist in another browser tab. Click Real estate for sale in the housing section. Then in the search bar on top the next screen, type "for sale by owner."

  • Tip: You can refine this search, if you'd like. In our area, for example, this search turned up a lot of RVs for sale. We're not interested in those, so we searched for sale by owner -trailer instead. This removed all posts with the word "trailer" in it and returned much more desirable results.

Now go to your browser's address bar and copy the entire Craigslist URL you see there. Next, go back to your IFTTT tab and paste the address there and click Create Trigger. If you've done everything right so far, your screen should look like this:


What this means is If there's a new post on Craigslist from the search URL you just pasted, then that will happen.

To define what that is, click on it. Since what you want to happen is to be emailed new leads, type in "email" in the search bar. This will pull up three options:

  • Email - Choose this option to be alerted to new FSBO posts in real time.
  • Email Digest - Choose this option to be sent a daily or weekly email digest of all new FSBO posts.
  • Gmail - If you're a Gmail user, this will notify you of new posts in real time.

Once you choose your preferred option, you'll be taken to a screen where you can customize the email message that's automatically sent to you. We strongly suggest that you change the title of the message to something that lets you know what it is and what platform the lead is coming from. Here's an example of how we set up our daily email digest below:


Click Create Action once you've customized your email message. Then, on the next screen, if everything looks good, go ahead hit Create Recipe. You're now set up to automatically receive email alerts about new FSBO leads on Craigslist!

Now You're Cooking... with Twitter

The recipe for finding FSBOs on Twitter is virtually the same. To start, create a brand new recipe. For This, select Twitter as the trigger channel, then click New tweet from search.

Here, we're going to use some Twitter search operators to narrow down what we're looking for. In this case it's tweets with the terms "for sale by owner" or "fsbo." We want to weed out any posts that have to do with selling cars, so we'll list some terms to exclude, too. Finally, we want to only see local tweets. Here's what that looks like:

fsbo OR "for sale by owner" AND "San Diego" -car -truck -van -suv

To customize this for your local area, replace the highlighted words with your city or area's name. Then copy and paste the entire string into the "Search for" field on IFTTT and click Create Trigger.

On the Action channel, you'll again search for "Email" and then choose your preferred sending option. Don't forget to customize your email message with a descriptive title on the next screen!

Next, click Create Action then Create Recipe, and you're done! You've got a brand new way to find FSBO leads on Twitter.


Now all that's left is to sit back and wait for the FSBO leads to flow in. Not sure how of how to convince an FSBO to list with you? Check out these talking points.Check out these talking points.

Happy prospecting!