Shanghai’s Fake Online Property Listings and Craigslist Housing Classifieds

Shanghai Living

Updated on:

Update: For those of you looking for a room to rent (not a complete apartment) you will find most listings to be genuine as they are posted by current tenants or owners and agents almost never advertise shared apartments.

In this post i am going to explain a few key factors of why most property listings you see online will be fake and this being why you should find a reliable agent whom has been recommended rather than chasing a online property listing that doesn’t exist.

In the UK, US and most other countries the internet is a great tool for finding a apartment for rent. However in Shanghai, 90% of the pictures and properties you see online are Fake. And my meaning of fake is that the pictures of the property you see is no longer available for rent or sale.

Agencies hire full time “ad posters” who spend the entire day posting ads on classifieds sites such as craiglist in order to generate leads where you will find 100’s of new ads daily, they do this in order to generate new leads and they know many foreigners new to Shanghai first check the craigslist housing section and they only need to get a few good clients from craigslist to cover the “ad posters” salary and for the entire year.

And here are a few reasons why most online property listings in Shanghai are fake!

No Exclusives!

Its a open market, Chinese landlords very rarely give exclusive listings to agents, meaning that any agent can lease out any apartment. This results in 100s of agents having access to the same properties and marketing them simultaneously and have no idea when its been rented out by another agent.

No Multiple Listing Systems!

Shanghai currently doesn’t have any multiple listing systems for real estate sales or rentals. Property agents simply have a database of landlords who they will call (annoy them 10 times a day) when they have a client who’s requirements suit.

The best deals go fast!

Shanghai has a population of over 10 million people and the best deals go very fast, usually not on the market long enough for anybody to take pictures and upload it to there website or post as a classifieds listing.

There’s always something similar!

When you reply to a property listings ad on Craigslist or on a agents website, one of the first things they will do is start calling landlords who have similar properties in the same building. Unless you are replying to an ad for a very unique lane house, its very likely that the agent has access to and will show you a apartment of a similar spec in the same building. (interior decoration can sometimes vary hugely in Shanghai and you should ensure your agent knows the interior style you want).

Agents who don’t want to split commission!

Most agents usually work on a commission basis only and are paid by the landlord when they find a suitable tenant, sometimes your agent might need to work with another agent to access the property you saw online, this resulting in there being two agents now in the transaction meaning they would have to split the commission between them.

No client = No entry!

A landlord might make multiple agencies aware that there property is now available for sale or rent, however if a agent is going to get access to enter the property to take pictures, then they are going to need to take a potential client along with them. Without the potential client the landlord is likely to see it as a waste of time to arrange a viewing by the agent.

Leave a Comment