How do you write a great listing to stand out from the competition, attract the best tenants, and reduce expensive vacancies?
Your rental listing will have to compete with dozens or even hundreds of other similar rental properties in the area. In order to stand out from all of that competition, your listing needs to catch the prospective tenant’s attention quickly and convince them that they want to know more.
Tenants only spend a couple of seconds before deciding whether they should just move on to the next rental listing and will make their initial decision based on only three things.
The first is a catchy headline. The headline needs to grab their attention convey that this is exactly what they’re looking for and it needs to do it fast. The second is a short description. With tenants looking through dozens of listings they don’t have time to read your descriptive essay outlining the properties magnificence. What they want is a short description that conveys everything they need to know. Finally, there are the photos. You will need a primary header photo that highlights the principal feature. As well as a selection of images showing off all the major rooms. Properties without photos or without a good description will see a much much lower inquiry rate.
We take a look at what you need to know to write a great listing to stand out from the competition, attract the best tenants, and reduce expensive vacancies.
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Finally, you may also want to add a 3D tour and a floorplan to give prospective tenants all the information they might need.
When writing your rental listing ad it’s important to get the balance between detail and text just right. Too wordy and prospects will likely gloss over the text and may not read it all. Not enough information and you may attract less serious tenants.
The rental listing headline is possibly the most crucial element of the listing. It’s the very first thing a tenant sees. It’s what’s going to convince them to click into the listing. Thankfully, the headline doesn’t have to be particularly creative, what it needs to do is let the tenant know that they’ve found exactly what they’re looking for.
What tenants are looking for when they search for a particular property is A) the number of bedrooms, B) the number of bathrooms, C) that it’s within their price range, and D) that the location is correct for them.
As such, these are the things that need to go into the headline. And then you can add a unique feature of the property to help the listing stand out and encourage more interest.
So the formula for a great rental listing title looks something like this:
Price – number of beds/number of baths, type of property, the neighborhood, and a unique feature.
$2,000p/m – 2 bed/ 2 bath apartment in Brooklyn, New York, with balcony and sea views.
Once you’ve got your title you can get started on your rental listing description.
1. Start with the best unique feature. If you’ve got an apartment with sea views put that detail right upfront. This should be the feature that stands out and sets it apart from the competition. A few examples include:
2. Next, choose one or two descriptors. For example,
There are plenty more. As an exercise, it may help to create a broad list of descriptors that you think convey the personality and character of your property, and then select two from that list.
3. Next, outline all of the basics like you did in the title. For example, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, and any other important factors, such as a garden or office space.
4. Talk about the neighborhood. What is the property close to? Is it close to the train lines? Is it near downtown? Are there lots of casual coffee shops? And what is the local community like? Eg. vibrant, hip, professional, quirky.
If the city has well-known neighborhoods, such as Brooklyn, then you can simply name the neighborhood as opposed to using descriptors, as people already have an associated understanding of the area.
5. You will want to talk about the exciting features of the property, choosing maybe one or two. For example, beautiful views, a gym in the building, or maybe it’s got a freshly renovated kitchen.
6. Finally, you want to provide any more essential information with a call to action. Essential information would include things like:
The call to action should encourage interested parties to get in contact and book a viewing. As such, it needs to have a convenient way for prospective tenants to enquire.
If we take all of these relevant elements we get a short description that will look something like the following:
“City and sea views – A cozy and intimate 2 bed/ 2 bath apartment with broad sweeping views of the city and sea nestled in Brooklyn, New York, close to bars, coffee shops, and walking distance to subway connections. This classically styled apartment has a freshly renovated kitchen, hardwood floors throughout, and comes with free access to the building’s gym. Pet’s not allowed. $2,000 per month, one month’s security deposit, utilities not included.
Call or email john to find out more and arrange a viewing on 00-000-0000 – firstname.lastname@example.org”
Things like storage, flooring material and energy-efficient upgrades will help set your listing apart from the rest when you advertise your rental. Some unique features to include, if applicable:
When renters are looking for a new home, the property itself is not the only factor in their rental search. Including information about the home’s proximity to transit, shopping, libraries, pools or other area features can influence a renter’s decision to contact you. Point out anything that makes the neighborhood desirable — especially if it’s not obvious to someone just driving by. For example:
Remember to avoid descriptions that might violate fair housing laws, even if they seem harmless. For example, don’t use phrases such as “nice quiet area for adults only” or “large Asian community.”
For tenants who have pets or children, or those who like to entertain, having a yard or patio can be a huge draw. Private outdoor space is particularly sought-after: 40% of renters view that feature as very or extremely important.
Some tenants want more than a lock on the windows and doors, especially in urban areas. The presence of a security system, keycard entry, deadbolt locks or a fenced yard can help prospective applicants feel safe.
Do you live on-site, or do you use a company to manage your rental? Some tenants prefer their landlord or property manager to be close by so repair requests and maintenance can be taken care of quickly. Others appreciate the privacy of having an off-site property manager.
Find out what else renters are looking for: Download our free renter fact sheet for information about renter preferences and expectations so you can make more informed decisions about what features to highlight when marketing your property.
Listings without photos or without enough photos get fewer views and fewer inquiries.
You need to make sure that you include photos of all of the major rooms, bedroom, living room, kitchen, bathroom. They should be at least one picture of each, but more is better. If there are special features to the property get pictures of these. For example, if you have a balcony with views include a picture of the view.
It is imperative to consider lighting when taking your photography, it should be bright natural light that highlights the unique quality of the property. A final note on getting photography is whilst you don’t necessarily have to hire a professional, the photography needs to be clean, well ordered, and well lit with good composition.
Try to take photos from the best angles and appearances to make your property shine. If you’re not confident that the photography that you have got is going to convince tenants that they need to come and have a look at your property, then hiring a professional for an hour or two could very well be worth it and actually save you money in the long run.
Read our article: 11 Tips For Getting perfect Photography Of Your Rental
There are a few best practices that will help you keep your rental listing short and snappy. The first is to avoid any language or descriptions that violate Fair Housing Laws which stipulate that you cannot discriminate against any of the seven protected classes. It is also best practice to avoid the following things in your rental listing:
Using these is often a very is often a red flag for tenants, and we’ll see them, skim past and on to the next rental listing.
Additionally, make sure that your listing is double or even triple-checked and that your grammar and spelling are perfect. Bad grammar comes off as highly unprofessional and could be all the information a tenant needs to skip on to the next rental list.