Not A Missed Connection: How to Write an Effective Rental Ad

Do you have questions about rental investing? Check out this post for some common questions a real estate investor who is interested in rental properties would be interested in exploring before diving into this article.

It’s easier than ever to post rental listings online. But writing an effective rental ad is harder than you think. I’m currently in the middle of a housing search and some of the ads I see while scouring Craigslist everyday make me want to reach through the computer and shake whoever wrote it. Here’s how to write an ad that will bring your ideal tenant to your doorstep.

Choose the right platform

There are a lot of places online to post rental ads and choosing the platform that your ideal tenant is likely to use is the first step to writing a rental ad that ends with a signed lease. Craigslist is popular all over the U.S. for rental ads, though it is more widely used and therefore more effective in larger towns and metro areas. In some metro areas, Craigslist users skew a bit younger because of Millennials high level of tech literacy and comfort with online commerce. Zillow is an online real estate database with 90 million unique visitors that caters to both homeowners and renters, so a higher end rental might do better here. Trulia is a real estate site so similar to Zillow that the two merged in July, but remain separate sites for the moment.

Write a headline that matters

A good headline does three things; grabs attention, gives specific information about the property, and inspires curiosity. It’s up to you what info to showcase in the headline, but try to choose something likely to appeal to your ideal renter. If you’re looking for a resident for a small hobby farm, showcase the amount of acreage and possibilities for gardening or keeping animals. If you’re looking to fill a student apartment complex that’s walkable to campus, highlight the easy commute in your headline. Avoid all-caps, exclamation points, and overly cheery marketing language, as it makes a legitimate rental ad look like it could be a scam.

Pictures are an absolute necessity

Well chosen, clear photos taken of each room in the property will cut down on the amount of naysayers who come and view the rental and decide it isn’t right for them. Take photos from a corner of a room to show the space as completely as possible. If the property has special features such as a garden, pool, or large porch or yard, include photos of those as well. Make sure your photos are in focus and well-lit, nothing is more off putting than blurry, dark pictures.

Make sure any photos in your rental ad showcase as much of each room as possible.
Make sure any photos in your rental ad showcase as much of each room as possible.

Give a clear idea of the location, if not the physical address

Location is the most important feature to a rental for many tenants. Including the physical address of a property makes it easier for a tenant to map a potential commute and research the neighborhood. If you’re uncomfortable giving out the specific address, giving street names is a good compromise.

Details, Details, Details

List the details of your property in clear, plain language. Include the number of bedrooms and baths, the square footage, the appliances that are included, flooring types, closet space, and any other details you think are important to your ideal tenant. Also highlight any desirable extras, like high ceilings, lots of windows, or a fenced in yard. If your tenant is liable for utilities or you intent to cover all or part of them, spell that out too. If you intend to run a background check or a credit report, include this information at the bottom of the rental ad. More details are better than too few.

State your lease terms

Most real estate websites make their listings searchable by price, so including a monthly rental fee is important. Price is often the most important feature for residents shopping for a new place to live. Include the rental fee and any deposits that are required before move-in. Include the date the property is available and the length of lease you are looking for. Stating your lease terms clearly saves time you don’t have to spend with applicants who aren’t a good fit for your property.

Are pets allowed?

According to a study done by the American Veterinary Association, half of all American households own pets. If you rental allows pets, be sure to specify what kinds of animals are allowed, any breed or size restrictions, and the amount of your pet deposit, and whether or not is fully or partially refundable.

If pets are welcome in your place, put it in your rental ad.
If pets are welcome in your place, put it in your rental ad.

Tell readers to DO something

The goal of any rental listing is to make your reader want to find out more about the property. Put a link to your online rental application in the rental ad. Include all the pertinent contact information a potential tenant needs to schedule a viewing of the property or get further information.


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Elizabeth Hayes

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