craigslist

You probably already know that using Craigslist, Zillow, and Trulia are effective ways to advertise your rental listings. However, how you present your property on there will make a big difference. You want your ad to be effective in attracting the kind of tenants you want, while also saving you some time in the prescreening process.

Watch your headlines

Capslock is the visual version of the above image. It's best to avoid it.

Capslock is the visual version of the above image. It’s best to avoid it.

Right now if you look on your local Craigslist, there are a handful of ads that stand out. Why do they stand out? Because they’re different. In all honesty, the majority of these ad headlines aren’t appealing. Capslock riddled duplicates seem to be something that property managers favor and for the life of me: I don’t know why. The old internet wisdom is that capslock is considered yelling, for one, so I suppose these are supposed to convey excitement. They don’t.

DON’T WAIST YOUR TIME LOOKING ANYWHERE ELSE JUST STAY WITH US!

There are also quite a few misspellings. None of this looks professional and in the cases I am currently looking at: it doesn’t tell me anything that really compels me to look at the ad.

Try these headlines on for size:

Pet friendly house with a fenced yard – Ready right now

1200 Sq Ft. 2 Bedroom 2 Bathroom Apartment

Now, think about what it’s like to move. Maybe it’s been a while, but the initial stages of searching and researching properties can often be an overwhelming pain. Would you WAIST your time looking at an ad that doesn’t tell you anything, or would you click on one that tells you you can bring the dog? Would you click on the capslock rage verses the one that tells you there’s plenty of room for both you and your roommate?

Picture Perfect

ID-100125503I’m not really even sure why you’d bother posting a listing without a picture. Most people I know and other renters I don’t know click the little “pic” box, and don’t check out the list without it. Additionally, if you aren’t posting photos, you’re missing out on anyone at a distance. Most websites don’t allow for a whole lot of photos, so consider whipping out your phone and taking a video of the property. Upload it to youtube, and offer the link. Make sure your photos are staged well, and clean the place up first.

Tell them what they want to know

At the very least, your listing needs to have square footage, bedrooms, and bathrooms. However, if you really want people to be coming to you, deposit in hand: include details like floor covering, closets, appliances, and other amenities. I would also suggest you get a thesaurus, because for those who have moved at least once, words like “charming” or “quaint” have become synonymous with “tiny” and “cramped”. If the place is small, just own it. They’re going to find out when they see it anyway. Instead of trying to obscure the obvious, play up the advantages. No one likes to feel hoodwinked and if your ad is vague or even slightly misleading-  you’re going to lose some potential tenants. Location is also very important. Nobody wants someone trying to poke around the property, but if they want to know the kind of neighborhood: you’re sunk if you don’t list the address. Utility averages are good, particularly if you don’t cover those. Always have the pet policy clearly listed. In this day and age- pet owners outnumber non pet owners, so if you’re still lagging behind on pet friendliness, let people know.

Even better than just having the above? Make sure you list it if you have an application fee, if you conduct credit and criminal background checks, and anything else. If you have an application online, you can direct them to that, as well as any pages that outline your rental’s policies.

Additionally, do yourself and anyone looking for listings a favor and be clear about your deposits. If you have a pet deposit and pet rent, list it in addition to your first and last months’ rent or other deposits. If you are deposit flexible, make sure you state that and be clear on where the wiggle room is.

Availability

Always note when your property will be available. If you have multiple properties, it’s a good idea to list that, and potentially links to those. If you manage a multi family, list how many units you have and their individual availabilities. Put in your lease term requirements, and be sure you’re clear you’re looking for long term tenants or just month-to-months.

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Kurt Kroeck has written articles in real estate, law, and art related niches for a number of high profile publications. He is an avid WW2 re-enactor, artist in graphite, charcoal, and digital media. He volunteers in animal rescue and enjoys spending time with his children.

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