June 18, 2024


Mad about real estate

How To Write An Online Rental Ad

Knowing how to successfully market your rental is the foundation of good property management. A well written ad can decrease your vacancy rate, attract better tenants, and even let you command a higher rent.

Follow this guide and boost your chances of renting your property quickly, easily, and for more money.

Where Should I Post My Ad?

If you were a potential tenant looking for an apartment online, what would you most likely do? Like millions of others, you’d probably turn to a search engine. So, let’s start there.

According to Google™, when someone is looking for an apartment they’ll type “Apartments for Rent” and “City Name” into the search box. An average city will generate roughly 250,000 searches a month, far out pacing any other search term.

Large classified ad websites do extensive research based on your criteria and then actively try to dominate those results. Subsequently, most people looking for an apartment online will end up at their site. 

Tip #1: “Where is the best place to post my classified ad?”  Search for Apartments for Rent in your city and use one of the first five sites that pop up.

Once there, these classified sites do a good job of directing people to the correct place. Someone looking for a one-bedroom apartment, for example, will quickly be presented a long list of relevant ads.

And that brings us to the next question:

How Do Tenants Decide Which Ads To Read?

Generally speaking, when people are confronted with too much information they resort to heuristics (rules of thumb that simplify problems). The last thing they’re going to do is read each and every ad; people just don’t think or act that way.

So what’s the best way to grab – and keep – their attention?

The Most Universal is “Scan Images”

Arguably, the single greatest advantage of the Internet ad over a print ad is the addition of images. In a few seconds, people can see what you’re offering and know if it’s right for them. Online ads with pictures get 200-300{ef6a2958fe8e96bc49a2b3c1c7204a1bbdb5dac70ce68e07dc54113a68252ca4} more views than ads without pictures. Humans are highly visual; it’s just easier to scan images than to read masses of text.

Tip #2:”Humans are highly visual- A picture says a thousand words”  People will most often filter your ad out if you don’t include pictures.

Another One is “Relative Price”

Notice that it’s relative price, not absolute. It’s difficult to judge what is fair in the absence of comparables. When people are confronted with vast lists of prices, they group “like” numbers and then contrast each against other similar offerings.

It’s a good idea to do a little research. Read some of the competing ads and evaluate them against what you’re offering. And make sure to include the asking price. If you merely say”Please Contact”, you will be removed from the “relative group” and your views will decrease.

Now that you know where people go to search for an apartment and how they will choose to read an ad, you can begin to write it. Here are some simple rules to follow.

How to Write a Title for Your Ad

Your ad title must quickly answer one simple question: Why should I click on your ad?  In the blink of an eye you have to convince potential renters it’s worth clicking and spending their time reading your ad.

Use a Strong Call to Action.

Calls to action tell the reader what next physical action to take. Some people feel unsure about what to do, especially online. And the fact that there are hundreds of ads only serves to compound their inaction. You need to tell them what to do, make it simple, and with require as little commitment as possible.

Tip #3: “Marketing Terms that Do Increase Views.” Adding words like “free”, “all-inclusive”, and “large” to your title will boost the number of views your ad will get.

My favorite title is “Large 1 Bedroom Apartment. Open For More Pictures”.

What could be simpler? There are many ways to create powerful calls to action, but this one has a few advantages:

  1. It clearly defines what you’re offering.
  2. You’re answering why they should click on your ad: For More Pictures.
  3. And best of all, it’s simple.

Many people make the mistake of trying to sell the apartment in the title. However, no title is going to sell someone on where to live. People are more sophisticated than that. A cheesy headline like “Gorgeous Spacious Apartment for Rent” is not going to do better than “Apartment for Rent”.

Remember, the goal here is to get the tenant to open the ad, not sign the lease.

Tip #4:Don’t waste headline space.” Telling people that it’s clean and well maintained may help to sell them, but it will not get tenants to open your ad. And they have to open it to be sold.

The Tenant Opened My Ad, Now What?

Now is the time to sell your apartment.

Psychology research shows us that People want their decisions to be positively reinforced. So help your prospect justify opening your ad and you’re on your way to filling that vacancy.

What you want to create is: “I chose to click on this ad, and I was justified in doing so because of this benefit”. It won’t help if someone clicks on your ad and then regrets it because the ad was poorly written, long winded, or full of marketing-speak and trickery.

Here are some quick tips for writing your ad:

  • Be brief. Don’t use 10 words when two will do.
  • Be specific. “Close to Amenities” is vague. It’s better to say “Easy Walk to City Mall” (Where all the amenities are).
  • Write as if you’re talking to a co-worker. Social and conversational, yet professional.
  • Use bold to emphasise words that you want to stand out but don’t overdo it.
  • Size matters. Use large, easy to read print.
  • Don’t create a laundry list of features. A simple message with a few key words is easier to communicate.
  • A picture is worth a thousand words. Don’t waste time writing out details that readers will see in the picture.

Focus On Benefits, Not Features.

People love stories. There’s something primal about sitting around a campfire listening to a great story. So paint a picture of what the experience of living in your apartment will be like. You can easily do that by focusing on the benefits, not the features.

Here’s the difference: A dishwasher is a nice feature, but never having to hand-wash the dishes again is a story with a real benefit.

Call to Action, Again.

The tenant read the entire ad, viewed all the pictures, and is now looking for a reason to act. So give them one.

You need to tell them what to do next and why. Don’t just say “Call Now”. Tell them why they should pick up the phone and dial your number.


Once your ad is up and running, don’t forget to compare it against similar ads. Most online sites show you how many views each ad has had. There are many variables that can skew the numbers, but if you’re doubling the view rate of a similar offering, then it’s safe to say you’re doing it right. If your ad is not performing, see which ones are and mimic what they are doing, price included.

Final Thoughts

The key to writing effective online ads that generate tenant interest rests in knowing what your potential tenant is thinking. If you offer them what they want, when they want it, you can easily rent your apartment.

Once you have shown your prospective tenant the apartment, don’t forget to ask for the sale. A simple, “so wha
t do you think”? is often enough.

Do you want to learn more from the team leader from a Hamilton Property Management Company? Read more free tips and techniques on Property Management.