If you’re advertising a house for rent, it can be easy to become discouraged. That’s because if you don’t craft it the right way, it will just get drowned out in all the other listings, never to be seen again.
The result is an empty property that is costing you money, not making it.
For the sake of example, think of it like applying for a job, where your rental ad is the resume. A resume needs to be written and structured right to get the attention of hiring managers. In the same way, if your ad or listing isn’t written and structured well, it won’t catch the attention of prospective tenants.
That’s where this guide comes in.
Below, we’ll take you step-by-step through how to write a great rental ad, including:
- How to craft an effective advertisement, from the wording to important details you can’t forget to include
- How to create eye-catching, attractive photos of your property or unit
- And a list of some of the best platforms for listing your property
A rental ad is mostly about the words and media (images/video) you use.
So, let’s start with a checklist that includes everything you’ll need to craft a great rental ad.
Checklist: What you’ll need to craft a great rental ad
A lot goes into putting together a great rental ad, so let’s cover that now.
The goal is to have something that will help keep you organized while you gather the information and items you’ll need. Here it is:
- Detailed description of the property
- Photos and (if possible, not necessary) video of the property or unit
- Property type and size
- Amenities, recent updates or upgrades
- Any other attractive aspect such as proximity to desirable locations
- Rent price, lease duration, and other relevant fees such as pet rent
- Rules and restrictions (pets allowed, parking, etc.)
If that all looks a little overwhelming, don’t worry. Let’s start from the top and talk about how to write a great rental description that attracts applicants.
How to write an enticing description of your property
Not a writer? Don’t worry, you don’t need to be to put together an attractive description for your rental.
We’ll go over some examples in a bit, but for now, let’s talk about the overarching things you need to keep in mind when writing your description. They include:
- Write as if you’re speaking to them
- Use descriptive language to spice up bland sentences
- Keep your ideal tenant in mind when writing
1. Write as if you’re speaking to them
First, you want to make sure you’re speaking directly to them in your description. Make them feel as though they’re walking through your property to help them get drawn into the moment so to speak.
This isn’t always possible and you don’t want to overuse it, but when used at the right times, it’s powerful.
Let’s look at an example to see it in action.
Here’s an atypical listing without much effort spent crafting its description:
And here’s another example using what we just talked about:
So instead of saying, “The central living room is large and includes access to every room along with a sliding glass entry to the backyard,” you could say, “Your new living room is large and includes access to every room along with a sliding glass entry to the backyard.”
Better, but it still needs work.
Let’s move on to the next section to see what we can do about it.
2. Use descriptive language to spice up bland sentences
Many rental descriptions are bland and uninspiring. Why should yours be different? It’s not to stand out, though that helps.
Rather, using more enticing and descriptive wording further helps your future tenant visualize the property and creates a positive connection emotionally. Let’s go back to our example and see what this does.
We can take it from this: “Your new living room is large and includes access to every room along with a sliding glass entry to the backyard.”
To this: “Your new living room is expansive with high ceilings and an open floor plan. It includes easy access to every room in the house along with a sturdy sliding glass door for convenient entry and visibility to the backyard.”
By adding words and phrases like “expansive,” “open,” and “easy access,” you help your prospective tenant visualize the space.
Think of words that positively resonate with you when you think of a home and use them. Words like “open” and “convenient” help convey not only what the actual space is like, but they also entice the prospect and appeal to their emotions.
Another idea is to get detailed when describing specific sections of the property. Don’t just say “tile floor;” say “travertine tile flooring” if that’s what it is. It sounds more impressive and takes little additional work.
All of this taken together equals one thing: more compelling descriptions and higher response rates to your ads.
3. Keep your ideal tenant in mind when writing
Let’s go over one last point before we talk about how to get great photos for your property. This is less about how to write and more about what you write, or what you include in the listing itself.
You need to be careful not to unintentionally discriminate and breach fair housing laws in your listings.With that said, there are screening-related items you can include to make it more likely that the right kind of tenant responds to your ad.
For example, you can include a short bulleted section with things like:
- Full background check with application
- 12 month lease (no month-to-month)
- Pets allowed
- No smoking
- Free parking
As you can see, these are more screening items than anything else.
Including items like “no month-to-month” and “full background check” in your description will help filter out potential applicants who wouldn’t be a fit for you right off the bat. That way, the applicants you do get are more likely to be of the caliber that you’re looking for.
Just be careful not to push potential applicants away with your language and try to put this at the bottom of your description so it’s one of the last things they see.
You don’t want to turn off potential applicants thinking you’re a bit strict or difficult.
4. Sell your USP
In business, USP stands for “unique selling proposition”. When crafting the ad for your rental property, you need to think about what your USPs are and flaunt them.
For example, maybe your property is close to the city center which has lots of great eateries and cafes, or it has a massive backyard. Or maybe it has a super cool extra room at the back of the house that can be converted to virtually anything from a man cave to a recording studio or even an indoor patio.
This doesn’t have to be anything crazy, though. Even things like:
- Stainless steel appliances
- Smart thermostat
- Covered parking
… are all big selling points that renters look for.
How to take and edit great photos (and why they’re important)
Now that you’ve started putting together your listing, let’s talk about a critical element: including eye-catching photos.
Think about how you might look over an ad. You’d skim the top including the address, price, and immediate details that jump out at you. Then, your eyes would go immediately to the pictures.
You could argue that the photos you include in your ad are the single most important element of the entire listing, in fact. So then, how do you take great photos of your rental property?
Let’s go over a few tips.
1. Lightning is key
When it comes to photography, lightning is the one key ingredient you simply have to master. Otherwise? Your photos look like this:
Instead of this:
Big difference, isn’t it?
The best way to fix this is simply by including as much soft white light in the photo as possible. Make use of any windows where natural lightning can pour in as that’s the easiest way to solve lightning problems.
Just be careful of yellow tones of artificial light as those typically look bad in photos.
Instead, you can pick up large white lamps from your nearest hardware store and prop them on light stands for great lighting at no more than a few dollars, as explained in this DIY lightning guide.
2. More is better
This is a simple point but an important one: if in doubt, include more photos of your property, not less.
Have two photos that are somewhat close to one another, but you like that it gives a slightly better view of another section of X room? Include it.
Get a photo of every room and every space on the property, including exterior spaces such as a patio, backyard, etc. Users prefer having as many photos as possible to flip through when looking at a listing, and the more you have the more chances you get to show off the property.
As a disclaimer, though, how many photos you can include in your listing all depends on the platform.
But, in general, be sure you’re making the most of the space given to you by including as many photos as possible.
3. Editing is the secret sauce
While lighting is critical, the real secret weapon of every great photo is good editing. You can’t fix every issue during the editing process, but you can fix most issues.
The most common issue you can fix in an editor is, as you might expect, bad lighting. Keep in mind that you can’t completely fix bad lighting, so don’t think you can just snap away and fix your photos later.
However, you can make your photos look a little brighter and livelier without much effort.
This real estate lighting guide from YouTuber Andrei Restrepo does a great job of showing how you can make big improvements in any property photo within minutes:
If that looks a little complex, however, don’t worry. You’ve got options.
If you’re willing to go all-out and would rather do it yourself, you could invest in something like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.
Adobe offers professional-level editing tools with everything you could want, but they come at a decent price.
If you’re strapped for cash and rather use a free option, something like Pixlr is great as well:
Fiverr starts on the lower end and you can find a number of great photo editors for cheap, with the price per photo typically ranging between $5-30:
Whichever way you decide to go, you have options for producing professional-level photos that capture your prospective tenants' attention.
Remember: photos are key, so if you have a tight budget, make sure you invest first in decent photos before anything else.
Where should I list my rental property? 5 Best rental listing sites
Now that we’ve thoroughly covered everything you need to craft a killer ad for your rental, you might be wondering where are the best places to put that ad.
The goal of this section is to give you a list of the best places to post your ad to get the greatest return on your investment.
Here are 5 of the best rental listing sites to place your ad on:
The first option on our list needs no introduction.
It remains one of the top rental listing sites that exist, and should likely be the first place you go when posting your rental ad online.
Zillow offers a variety of tools for both regular listings as well as paid advertising, so there’s something for everyone and of every budget.
An extension of Zillow in some ways, Trulia stands apart as a great platform specifically for those looking for rentals.
That makes it perfect for posting your rental property ad and in some cases can even net more responses per view given the more targeted user base.
Users particularly appreciate Trulia’s scoring system, which takes into consideration the surrounding area including crime, schools, etc.
If your property is particularly strong in those areas, Trulia is an especially strong choice.
One of the largest rental-specific platforms online, Apartments.com makes it especially easy to put up your listing by walking you through the process.
If your property has a number of great amenities, Apartments.com is particularly good at showing those off, making it an even better choice.
Another platform specializing in rentals, Rentberry offers a sleek app that’s super easy to use and growing in popularity.
However, where it differs is in the fact that it is a syndicate which will take your property info and post it for you on multiple platforms such as Realtor.com and Zumper.
You can see everything from your login on Rentberry, though, so they make it super easy to see all your applications and responses from one place.
Despite appearing as a dinosaur of the internet age, Craigslist is still kicking and still very much a viable source of leads.
It shouldn’t be your first option, but it does work well as a source especially if you typically attract more matures.
Want more ideas? Check out our guide to the Best Rental Listing Syndication Sites.
List with DoorLoop
Crafting a great rental ad can take work, so wouldn’t it be nice if the listing part kind of just… took care of itself?
There are a number of great rental listing platforms out there, but posting to each of them can be incredibly time-consuming.
With DoorLoop’s automatic listings feature, you can list your property on major platforms like Zillow, Trulia, and Apartments.com in a matter of minutes:
Plus, you can use it to manage every aspect of your properties at the same time.
Instead of having to jump around to multiple rental sites and spreadsheets managing everything, give yourself a break by bringing everything together into a single centralized platform.
No matter how you decide to create your rental ad and market your property, we hope this guide helps you create an amazing ad that gets your market’s attention.