Writing rental listings that sell

Geoff Roberts
Geoff Roberts | 3 min. read

Published on April 13, 2009

In many areas—especially right now when many tenants are staying put—rental listing sites are overflowing with available units. Making yours stand out from the rest takes a little bit of effort, particularly when there are a dozen other similar units for rent within just a few blocks of your property. Scroll through any of these rental sites and it’s immediately apparent that most rental listings use a very specific formula. All you have to do is break that mold and you’ll be much closer to making sure that your listings grab the attention of potential renters.

Make your listing title count.
Set yourself apart from the pack from the get-go. Rather than using a standard listing title like $995 – 1 bd/1 ba, take advantage of the listing title as your first opportunity to appeal to potential tenants. After all, if they never click on your listing, posting it is a futile effort.

Obviously, you’ll need to keep the title short, but that doesn’t mean you can’t provide enough information to reel potential tenants in. While you’ll want to include the number of bedrooms in your listing title, it’s also a great place to showcase your unit’s amenities or unique features. Some things you may want to consider featuring in your listing title are: on-site washer and dryer, off-street parking, heat and hot water included, or any rental incentives you’re offering. Titles are also a great place to highlight distinctive unit characteristics like a fireplace, alcove, or garden.

Be as specific as possible.
There’s no reason to hold back—make sure your listing gives potential renters as much information as possible as well as a real flavor for the unit. Avoid generic adjectives like “nice” and “great” and instead use words that really help potential renters visualize the unit: spacious, bright, classic, or modern. When deciding which listings to pursue, potential tenants are more likely to take action on those listings that leave a lasting, visual impression. Carefully chosen, specific adjectives are one of the most effective ways of creating this sort of image.

Be thorough in your description.
Really take your time when it comes to writing your listing, and make sure you’re including all of the features that make your unit unique. Some of your biggest selling points may not be amenities at all but, rather, things like the fact that your building is on a quiet street or close to grocery stores and shops. But again, take your time writing these listings; sometimes it’s hard to see the most impressive or note-worthy things about a place you’re overly-familiar with.

A picture says a thousand words.
Particularly on Craigslist—which has a specific search function that eliminates listings without images from user results—you’ll want to include pictures with your rental listings. A tip about images: Some rental listings include pictures of dirty or messy apartments simply because the property manager cannot do anything about tidying up while the departing tenant is still occupying the unit. Even though potential renters understand the unit will be cleaned before it’s rented out, untidy apartments still don’t leave a great first impression, and that’s what listings are all about. To avoid such situations, always keep stock pictures of your units on-hand for use in this type of scenario.

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Geoff Roberts

Geoff is a marketer, surfer, musician, and writer. He lives in San Diego, CA.

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