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As you may already know, I am currently looking for a new roommate.  I placed advertisements on craigslist and roommates.com.  Both of which I have used in the past.  These sources of find potential roommates have their differences, the biggest difference being the cost – craigslist is free.  Since roommates.com is not free, it doesn’t mean it should be ignored as second rate.

I’ve had actually very good luck in finding reliable roommates using the paid service.  And No, I am not getting paid by roommates.com to write this post.  I’m just offering my honest opinion about it.  There is a flaw with roommates.com, which of course I will share.

Roommates.com and other Roommate Subscription Sites

With paid subscription sites such as roommates.com, you create a profile whether you’re offering a place to live or looking for a roommate.  This offers a chance for you to pre-screen profiles to decide whether a person is a fit.   When you find a profile that seems like a likely fit, you can then contact that person to inquiry more information.

However, to contact another member, you need to pay for a subscription.  Otherwise, it’s completely free to create a profile and browse other profiles, but there are limitations on what you can see in another person’s profile without a paid subscription.

Since roommates.com is not free, you’re going to get people that are generally interested in looking for a place rather quickly because of the length of the subscription period.

The Flaw

Assuming you didn’t pay for a subscription, when you receive a message from a potential roommate, you get a notification in your e-mail saying “You Have New Mail.”  At this point, you can either pay for a subscription or ignore the e-mail.  This is when I generally start a new subscription so that I can read my new messages.  So, after paying for the subscription service to read my new messages, I see nothing in my inbox – Rip Off.

I contacted roommates.com about this issue and their explanation was that the message was a scam e-mail and they take precautions by deleting the message before the intended reader reads it and falls prey to it.  Okay – fair enough, if that’s the situation, I should get an updated e-mail stating that there is no new message in my inbox rather than having me sign up for a paid subscription only to find nothing in my in box.

Craigslist

I have advertisements on the “shared room” section on Craigslist.  I like Craigslist because it’s free and gets a lot of page views.  However, with craigslist being a free service, there can be some real craaaazeeee people out there.

Another thing I absolutely love about craigslist is being able to split test roommate advertisements.

Split testing, what’s that?

Split testing involves running multiple postings (usually two) for your available room for rent with slight variations.  The main objective behind split testing in this case is to determine the optimal layout, rental price.  This can extremely useful for someone that is unsure what kind of rent to charge.

This go-around, I was able to get a little more than what I normally get because I was able to increase the perceived value of my place.  Some of you may think this is scheming; some of you may think this is clever.  Let me remind everyone, the choice is entirely up to the prospective roommate to move in and pay the advertised rental price.

Craigslist Scam E-mails

A few days ago, I received an e-mail from a scammer posing as a roommate.  The number of scammer is huge on craigslist.  If you’re not careful, you can fall victim to scammers.  I’ve run several dozen craigslist posting and can pick out a scammer’s e-mail from a genuine one.  A screen shot of the said e-mail is shown below.

E-mail from a scammer posing as a roommate

Being skeptical of the e-mail from the purported roommate, I replied to the initial inquiry asking if we could talk over the phone.  The person evaded answering the question by stating more about themselves, thus trying to appease my apprehension of letting the purported roommate to move in.

Also note how the purported roommate is asking how much it will cost to secure the room and where to send the money to in BOTH e-mails.  This is the biggest tip off that it’s a scam.  The purported roommate is indifferent to the area and amenities and only cares about securing it immediately.  I have since then deleted this e-mail.  I thought this would be a great opportunity to educate readers what a scam e-mail looks like.

Closing thoughts

Despite the gripes I have about roommates.com, I still will continue to use it as a source for finding roommates.

I like Roommates.com over other roommate subscription sites because it ranks pretty high on Google key word searches so it gets good reach even for the suburban area where I live.  In a more urban area say the Greater NYC or Boston roommates.com should turn up more potential roommates than I would find for my area.

Craigslist is also valuable medium being a free source and the number of page views it receives.  Be wary of e-mail that does not contain your post title as the subject line.  Lastly, I did not go into detail on how I run split test as potential roommates maybe googling my name and thus reading this post right now.

Happy Roommate Hunting!

{ 23 comments }
  • Financial Samurai September 4, 2010, 12:15 am

    I’ve always used Craigslist to fill all my property. I’d never pay, since Craigslist is so efficient.

    Reply
  • Gail September 7, 2010, 10:38 pm

    I am interested in renting a room in my home one day soon. I was looking for that “A screen shot of the said e-mail is shown below” stating about spammers on Craigslist. Did I miss something? Definitely true to be aware of spammers and me being new to this type of thing, I would like to learn a few things from you.

    Reply
  • Mike September 8, 2010, 10:11 pm

    Gail,

    My apologies for failing to link the image to the post. The post has now been updated with the image of the e-mail.

    Mike

    Reply
  • Gail September 9, 2010, 11:38 pm

    Thank you for inserting the copy of the ad above;
    What would you say to this ad found below? Is this for real?

    $1 / 3br – Free room and 1/2 board for favors (Tucson mountain base)
    ——————————————————————————–
    Date: 2010-09-07, 6:28PM MST
    Reply to:
    ——————————————————————————–
    Hi. I have a nice house with one or two extra bedrooms in Tucson . One room is empty and the second one is an office, but it just has a computer and desk in it. If needed, I can move that somewhere else and I’d have two extra BR. I’m looking for someone to move in to the extra room(s). You must be able to pass a police check. No drugs allowed. Smoking/Drinking is fine. The police check if VERY important because I’m gone usually 15 days out of the month. That means the house is pretty much yours half the time, and the half when I’m in Tucson I work 50 hrs a week.

    What I would like in return for the free house is to be taken care of in all the ways a man needs to be taken care of. Take care of me all the ways a wife would if I were married 😉 This arrangement might not be right for just anyone and I understand that. Not a lot, maybe 2-3 times a month.

    I’ll provide all the food, cable, phone, internet. If need be, you can even use the car when I’m out of town, but we can talk about all that when hammering out the details.

    Send me a reply and we’ll take it from there.

    Lonely homeowner

    Reply
    • Mike September 10, 2010, 7:52 pm

      Gail,

      It looks a bit skeptical to me. Too good to be true. Are you looking for a place to live or is that your advertisement that you are thinking posting? Send me an e-mail and we can talk about it more mike at renting out rooms dot com

      Mike

      Reply
  • Gail September 10, 2010, 11:56 pm

    No this is not my ad; a friend of mine is in CO and wanting to come back to AZ. I am slowly thinking of renting out a room but in no hurry; my son who got laid off had to move back home; and my daughter is still here too. Once the timing is right, I want to rent. I WAS a landlord way back when, and know some headaches, but this time it would be just a room. How do you feel about snowbirds or temporary people looking for a place? Thanks for your comments.

    Reply
    • Mike September 12, 2010, 1:31 pm

      Gail,

      My experience with temporary people have been good. I had a few roommates that stayed about 3-4 months and had no problems. For them it’s hard to find a place to live without committing to a long-term stay. So, if you’re offering a room to rent with a month to month term, the temporary workers are grateful because they benefit from living in your spare room with out committing to something long term.

      Mike

      Reply
  • Angie April 29, 2011, 11:35 pm

    I had the exact same thing happen to me on roommates.com. It just so happens that I received the new mail on the day my subscription expired. Luckily, I didn’t renew the membership. I checked the location and find it odd I would receive mail from a location over 50mi from my desired destination. The mail is no longer in my inbox and the profile has been deleted. This seems awfully suspicious. Doesn’t seem like the work of a hacker, especially since I haven’t had any problems until my membership expired. Seems like a way for roommates.com to trick customers into renewing their memberships.

    Reply
  • HIllary August 31, 2012, 7:46 pm

    So pissed! I was on the Roommates.com site and paid the fee so I could get my mail. Now I cant even log in as a free member OR upgraded because they never sent me the verification code!!!! To make matters worse, when I hit “contact us” and leave an angry message, it says the e-mails arent able to go through!!! I wish someone would shut them down.

    Reply
  • Kenn Moeller January 12, 2013, 4:26 pm

    I’m in a town between DC and the chesapeake bay. What I have found is several things; lack of sincerity. I currently have a townhouse to share [ the whole upstairs and share the 1st floor at a very reasonable price for a min. of a year. Plus some extras. One site based on the west coast about 80 hits,NONE WERE WORTHWHILE ! Another generated about 8 ,had a tough time calling them , with bad responses .Craigslist in this area [about three] produces sime scams that real teases for prospective landlords ! My upstairs has been empty for 5 months and I’m probably I’m not always computer accessable and PREFERR A CALL which leads to lack of reading abilities ! I’m on my 5th and 6th roommate centers to see if some one is really interested

    Reply
  • Michael (Orlando's Handyman) February 18, 2013, 6:10 pm

    Roomates . com is a scam

    Reply
  • adam July 26, 2013, 12:04 pm

    I haven’t had one serious response to my craigslist post. I’m just now trying roommates.com, but after reading some of these comments I’m sceptical.

    Maybe you could give us all some pointers on how to write the most effective ads

    Thanks

    Reply
  • Maggz March 17, 2014, 11:51 pm

    Crossposting on both padlister.com and craigslist.org has been very fruitful in finding roommates for us.

    Reply
  • Dave March 21, 2014, 10:18 am

    Regarding Roommates.com and my cancellation response to them:
    There is no functionality except to see a match or listing but only basic information without upgrading. There is no way to communicate with prospects without upgrading. In fact there is really nothing useful that can be done without upgrading. Why do you allow people to even post for free. I was VERY dissatisfied and your service is useless to me and I found it underhanded and misleading. If you had just said that this is NOT a free service up front, it would have at least been honest. I will be using another service and posting my experience regarding Roommates.com.

    Reply
  • Dwayne August 5, 2014, 11:37 am

    Good afternoon everybody,
    I been looking to rent a room in suffolk co,ny and it will be just me. Someplace small and working two jobs,2am to 4.30pm I will not be home much. Do you have any ideas
    how to get a listing for this? Im very quiet,no drinking,no smoking,no drugs,very boreing life lol.but I dont mind. Any have any rooms please email.
    Thank you.
    Dwayne

    Reply
  • Angie September 19, 2014, 1:57 pm

    I’ve used roommates.com in the past and have always had good luck. That being said, roommates.com is certainly shady. I too have had the same experience with the messages being deleted. Yes, it always happens when my subscription runs out. The message gets deleted yet they don’t inform you of that before you renew. This is not the work of scammers as I had not had a problem until my subscription expired. Also the profiles were from people no where near my area. This is the work of roommates.com trying to get more money by using shady business practices.

    Reply
  • Catherine October 22, 2014, 7:22 pm

    BEWARE OF SCAMMERS!! I’m not sure whether it was craigslist or roommates.com. First I received an email from someone named JEdwards. He claimed he was a student at Edinburgh University in Scotland and would be coming to the U.S. soon. He wanted me to TAKE MY ROOM OFF THE MARKET as he was DEFINITELY INTERESTED in renting it. Being naive, I replied “well, send me a deposit THEN i’ll remove the listing”. I never heard another word.

    BUT…. not long after I heard from a “Rosena” who claimed to be “half French, half American” and fluent in both languages. She said she was currently “in alaska working on a research project” but would be “coming to los angeles soon to work on her master’s degree”. She ALSO wanted me to remove my listing and, after getting some sketchy information about my rooms and situation, said she was DEFINITELY interested in renting from me and would be sending a deposit from “Dad” to secure the rental. Soon I received a $3500 check from some North American Oil Company. Then it was instant HARD SELL to get me to deposit the check and send her $1500 via Moneygram so she could “buy a car to drive down here”. What an idiot, i almost did it! She sent me a photo, and sounded SO nice….

    Here’s the key: they are always somewhere far, far away but to be in the area SOON, and they always send a check and want money sent to them. DUH i almost went for it; how CRAZY can you be? Never Again!

    Reply
  • vjtk September 15, 2015, 2:31 pm

    Catherine: I had the same email come to me from this “French lady” and this is almost one full year after your post. These scammers obviously don’t update their schemes much, do they? Thanks for the post.
    “I’m so glad to hear from you quick, I’m interested in renting the
    room. My name is Rosena susan i was born in France (Paris) i speak
    both French & English, am single, fun, loving, clean, loyal and
    respectful of others, don’t have any pet. More about me, my father is
    from US and my mother is from France. I’m 30yrs old, sex female, i
    attend American University of Paris, graduated a year ago.

    I’m coming to stay for a year, and am coming for my master’s
    degree.I’m currently in Alaska in a village “Nunivak Island” on a
    research work and will be coming soon.
    i’ll loved to call you but here is a remote area calls are very hard
    to go through, please send me some picture of the room because i will
    not be able to come over and check on it before renting.

    Please tell me little about yourself…if you are a
    student?,working?, married or single?, if there is a garage or parking
    space because i will be coming with my own car. Let me know the total
    amount for the first month rent, i will be paying upfront so that you
    can be rest assured that am really interested in renting the room from
    you…

    My mode of payment is US Check, so please feed me back with the
    following details so that i can ensure you are ready to rent the room
    to me.

    BELOW IS THE INFORMATION NEEDED

    ***** Full Name:
    ****** Street Address:
    ******* City, State, Zip Code:
    *******Apartment #:
    ******** Cell Number:
    ********* Total amount for a month:

    I’ll be waiting to read back from you with the information
    requested so that i can forward it to my father to issue out the check
    for the deposit and month rent upfront as soon as possible, with that
    you can hold on the place prior my arrival… Thanks for your
    co-operation

    Regard.
    Rosena Susan

    Reply
  • Ball February 23, 2016, 8:52 pm

    Warning: You cannot delete your account at roommates.com. You can “deactivate” your account, but it will be there forever.

    It’s like they’re begging for a lawsuit.

    Reply
  • Yaniie July 26, 2016, 1:39 pm

    Sample scam mail I received….

    Hello,Thank you so much for the assurance that you will hold the room for me.Honestly, to be sincere i am not the computer person and i have not signed up for skype.It will be a great pain if you give out the place to someone else because my roommate membership has expired and i did not bother to upgrade it any longer since the accommodation at your place will be okay for me.Do you drive?What kind of car will work out best with the weather out there?because i bet i will sure need a good car, so that i can be able to move around with ease even to other neighbouring cities too.Yeah paying the deposit fees will not be a problem at all bc all my allowances will be provided so i promise to always pay my rent bills on time.

    Honestly,it is a pity that i can not come down all the way from here right now just to view the accommodation and meet you in person but i am begging you to hold it down for me till my arrival back to the states.I will want my finance officer in the states to settle with the rent deposit this week so that i will know that the place will be reserved down for me till my arrival.Please my accommodation needs is very important right now so i will be ok with it bc the monthly rent fees is ok with me. I look forward to my coming back to the states.

    A certified money order in US dollars will be paid to you this week.You should get back with the move in cost,name, mailing address and phone number for the rent so that the money order can be paid out this week to secure the accommodation down for me until my arrival.Thanx and wishing you a nice week ahead.My accommodation needs is really a huge priority to me right now.I look forward to my stay with you.

    from me….

    Great. Can we skype or google hangout to complete the conversation on move in cost? Its 1000 dollars security deposit and 1000 every month. both in money order.
    Thx

    sends photo of some two white ladies but the email says: Mr. Robert!
    I am the one to the Left

    Show details

    Reply
  • Yaniie July 26, 2016, 1:42 pm

    Sample scram mail

    How are you doing?My names are Sharon Joy Reed.I just checked my email again to see if you have replied me.I am very pleased with your email and i want you to know that i really want the room.I will be glad to rent the room for the available lease period(12-months or more).

    It is such a pity that i can not come down all the way from here right now just to view the accommodation and meet you in person but i am begging you to hold it down for me till my arrival back to the states.I will try and get one of my pictures scanned today and send to you so as to put a face behind my mails.

    I am very serious about the room bc my accommodation needs is a great priority to me right now.I lok forward to reading your next email so that the total move in cost can be paid out to you just to secure the room down till i will arrive on Aug 1.Let me read from you again so that we can proceed.

    Thanx and God bless you,

    To: MR. ROBERT
    Subject: Re: Hi T0nt

    Click here to Reply or Forward
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    MR. ROBERT
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  • JT July 27, 2016, 7:09 pm

    I had a very similar scam experience as vjtk. It was a bilingual Chinese American student doing research in Guam and coming to California for her masters. I didn’t wire her any money after she sent me a fake cashier’s check. Her messages were almost identical as vjtk’s post, except her name was Derby Nelson. She’s still trying to scam people on easyroommate.com, so beware. I also posted my rental on Roommates.com and found it to be a waste of time, so I deactivated my account. Used http://www.trulia.com for better results.

    Reply
    • Kay December 7, 2016, 6:15 pm

      Thanks JT for sharing your experience, it really helped me. I was just scammed by Derby… her messages sounded very strange and nonsensical so I did a quick google search and found your comment. I won’t be replying or sending money, and I’ll report it to easyroommate. Hope you’ve had better luck since then!

      Reply

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