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Stained glass window of birds nesting there ...I received an e-mail this week from a reader feeling discouraged from the lack of responses to his roommate advertisement.  His initial e-mail didn’t state how long his advertisements were online for, but after following up, his advertisements were “live” for about a week and half.  Now, a week and half isn’t a terrible long time to go without any responses.  I’ve had one of my bedrooms go empty for a few months.  It’s just the nature of the business and an important reason why you shouldn’t rely heavily on the rental income.

So here’s my thoughts to this reader, which may apply to anyone that’s in this situation:

  •  Your timing may not always be perfect.  As in the case with this reader, he’s looking for a roommate when the holidays are right around the corner.  This is probably the least likely time anyone wants to move unless they’re in some unusual (dire) circumstance.  I’m not saying people never move, but if you ask any realtor when the slowest times are for them, 99% of them will say it’s during the holiday season.  With that fact, there’s some positive correlation between the slow real estate sales and turnover on roommates.  The beginning of the New Year and the springtime are more likely times roommates will be searching for places to live.  Coincidentally, this is when college semesters are finishing.  In fact, looking back on my roommate records, I’ve had the most roommates move in the months June and September.
  • Revise your advertisement.  Have you ever scanned cnn.com or other news sites and clicked on a headline because it sounded interesting?  Well that’s exactly what you want to do when you create a headline for a craigslist advertisement.  Create a clear concise headline so that potential roommates want to click on it and read more.  Also when you create the body of the advertisement, make the body easy to scan using hyphens as bullet points(craigslist doesn’t allow bullets) to create punch lines.  This is very important because a potential roommate will be looking at ton of advertisements and if you make it difficult, ie time consuming to read, it’s going to get the pass by.  I noticed that my new reader friend left out some important details such as the term.  Leaving critical information from the advertisement is sometimes a costly mistake too.  In this specific case, he left off the term of the room rental.  If you omit vital information, it forces the potential roommate to inquiry via e-mail or telephone to find out more.  Guess what?, you just created more work for your roommate and a barrier for this potential roommate.

Keep some of these pointers in mind when responses are sparse.  Use your good judgment and you may perhaps find a roommate in no time.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Wonderlane

  • Arlyn Grant November 17, 2011, 3:16 pm

    I’ve been advertising daily on Craigslist for a roommate since the second week in August. I have three different versions of my ad, and I’ve found that the one that receives the most responses is the shortest one.

    But talk about discouragement…the poor job market has really cut into my potential roommie pool.

  • Bill November 23, 2011, 4:36 pm

    Great site Mike and filled with some very helpful information for people. I’ve been renting out furnished rooms in properties I own since 2004 and I’ve used hundreds of different ads of varying lengths, descriptions etc.
    I find that by writing longer ads targeted at specific groups of people (in my case people looking for short term solutions without getting locked into leases) I get the best responses. It also saves me time as many of the questions potential tenants may have are already pre-answered in my ads.
    Also, it never hurts to check alternatives to Craigslist that are commonly used in your area. Although I advertise on Craigslist I find it most effective with people moving from other cities to my city. I also advertise on Kijiji which gives me almost 90% of my inquiries which are all from local prospects or people within a few hundred miles moving to the city for work.



  • Nikki January 6, 2014, 10:45 pm

    I’ve been searching since September 2013 for a roommate, Ive posted ads on Craigslist, and many other roommate websites. Ive also asked friends, co-workers, church friends, etc. and I’m still having no luck finding one & i have a deadline, what am i doing wrong?

    • Mike January 7, 2014, 9:23 pm

      Send me an email and we can discuss it further

  • James Richmond November 23, 2014, 11:30 am

    Roompik in the Apple Store make it a lot easier to find good house mates / tenants. It’s Facebook only too so you are guaranteed to find out a lot more about people before you even message them for further details etc.

  • Jessica December 28, 2015, 4:39 pm

    Great site and nice, thorough documentation of your journey! Just wondering, have you considered putting your rooms on airbnb? I’m doing an experiment with two empty rooms in my house and so far, I like the guests (I only host women who have two or more positive reviews for safety concerns) and knowing that there will be times when I have the place to myself when I don’t want to host. Thoughts? Thanks!

    • Mike January 1, 2016, 5:49 am

      Jessica, Thanks for the compliments on the site. I personally never used AirBnB. I can see why “live-in landlords” would want to use it as it’s a temporary roommate with a known check-in and check out date. It’s certainly a very viable and lucrative option. It’s certainly a better way to screen your tenants with their previous stay history with AirBnB. Then again AirBnB is taking a cut of your earnings.

  • Shawn January 19, 2016, 12:11 am

    First of all I have to say, fantastic site! I stumbled upon it when googling “posting a successful roommate wanted craigslist ad” because I’m frustrated with revising and re-posting my ad almost every day for close to 3 months now!
    Please help…

  • christine February 10, 2016, 9:50 pm

    I’ve posted my room to rent for about a month now and only had 3 inquiries. If you have time, could you review my Craigslist and Roommate posting, please? I could really use the assistance!

  • Rich August 26, 2016, 10:37 pm

    Great site just became newly divorced and looking for assistance on covering some finances. Thanks!


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