Real Estate Connect: Update From Craig (of Craigslist)

Speaking at Inman’s Real Estate Connect last week in San Francisco, Craigslist namesake Craig Newmark says the service is now getting 8 billion page views a month from 450 cities in 50 countries. He also noted that the service is up to 23 staffers and will be adding a couple of programmers. He didn’t address pending competitive issues from eBay’s Kajiji, but he did note that there is plenty of room in the classified market for multiple players.

Last year, Craigslist added nominal fees for real estate listings in New York City. The imposition of fees was meant to kill redundant listings, a side effect of Realtors’ rush to get their listings to the top of every heading. “We thought we’d get a drop in listings to 10 percent of their previous level.” But if there was a drop, it wasn’t nearly as precipitous as anticipated, he said.

While some Craig watchers have anticipated that such fees would be the next major revenue stream for the service, Newmark said the New York fees are going to be the exception, not the rule. “We have no plans to add real estate charges in other markets,” he said. It was simply a fix to a problem.

Newmark also reiterated that still image and text will be sufficient for his service, even as others add new features such as video and sophisticated search. “Sometimes you want to go to a flea market. Sometimes, you want to go to a department store. We are a flea market.”

On a personal note, Newmark said much of his own time is now being spent tracking down roommate finder scams. But said he expects to become “less than full time” next year, and he will begin to devote considerable energies as a goodwill ambassador for American “moderates,” especially in the Middle East. Newmark made the observation that the Internet has empowered moderates, whose voice now matches extremists that have traditionally dominated.

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