How to: Write an Affective Rental Listing

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Over the past decade, the migration from print to online advertising of rental properties has brought about fierce competition. Online advertising has provided multiple media options that weren’t previously available, such as creating picture-rich listings with multiple photos, video, and maps, along with rich detailed ad copy and social media links.

Since owners of rental properties have begun to look at their rental portfolios as real businesses, with themselves as CEO, competition can be fierce. How can you ensure that your property stands out? Strategic marketing! Businesses need marketing to retain and grow market share, so that competition from across the street with trendy name, logo, and picture-rich website won’t lure tenants to where the grass appears greener.

How do we stave off this exodus and fill empty units before the competition? By producing descriptive, picture-rich, and eye-catching advertisements that are tailored to your target audience. 

Here are some suggestions:

  • Include High-Quality Photos. In our business as an Internet Listing Service (ILS), our staff field many calls from landlords asking for help building or re-writing their ad to make it more effective. If you are not receiving as many calls about your property, the first order of business is to ensure there are quality photos in your ad. Many good tenants will skip over ads without photos, because they assume the landlord either doesn’t care or has something to hide, neither of which will help you rent your unit.
  • First Impressions Count! In the online world, the first thing prospective tenants see are the photos. No matter how fantastic your ad copy is, your photos do most of the talking. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. Use photos to showcase how great it will be to live in your unit. You may even consider hiring a photographer to shoot your building(s) as the photos will be useful for years, and can make a significant difference in a tenant’s decision. Remember its QUALITY NOT QUANTITY when it comes to photos of your property!
  • Determine Your Audience. When writing a rental ad, ask yourself: What type of tenant do I want to attract? Once you determine your target audience, you can tailor the ad listing to that crowd. When you focus your ad on attracting the type of tenants you want, the ad itself will do some of the screening for you. Is there a specific school you are targeting? If so, try to highlight the benefits you offer to students of that school, such as a 10 minute walk to campus etc.
  • Provide Specific Details. If you want to skip straight to interested tenants and avoid taking lots of calls from people who are simply looking for more information, be specific with your ad and provide all of the details up front such if utilities are covered or if parking is provided.

Unlike rental ads in the classified section of local newspapers, which often charge by the letter, most online sites offer plenty of space for you to provide details. Take advantage of this space and provide information tenants are looking for up front. Along with great photos, the most important details to include are location and price. Be sure to fill out all of the fields when posting your ads, list all amenities, and be clear on the terms. If you require a 1-year lease or utilities are extra, state this upfront. The more information you able to provide, the better!

Several Things to Avoid when Posting Online Rental Listings:

  • Avoid all caps – Writing ads in all caps may have been a clever marketing tactic at one point, but is now avoided by the younger generation. It can make you seem either angry or desperate.
  • Avoid empty phrases – In real estate ads there are many overused words such as ‘nice, great, and beautiful’ which have become ’empty’ words. Look for alternatives which really describe what your unit has to offer. Consider using one of the many Thesaurus sites on the Internet to find descriptive words.
  • Avoid abbreviations – Most sites give you plenty of space for your ad copy, so there is no need to use abbreviations. In your online ads opt for terms like ‘dishwasher’ over ‘d/w’ and ‘finished basement’ over ‘fin bsmt.’
  • The bottom line for producing a great rental ad is to include high-quality photos and/or video, as well as clean and concise ad copy, targeted to your ideal target audience.
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