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How to Write Killer Rental Ads

MarketingMy son and I are about to close out our best year ever.


Yep, right in the middle of a bad recession.

So it occurred to me, while I was perusing Craigslist for rent ads today, that I might have a few secret weapons that would be of help to other landlords.

Try this exercise:  Go to Craigslist and check out the ads in some rent range that is
applicable to your rental units.  Below are a few of the headings I saw listed.  Hover your mouse over each one and see which one makes your finger WANT to CLICK:

Single Family Home for Rent
Just Painted – Nice Floorplan
2 Rooms Nice Location
Large Condominium
Clean 1 bdrm apt – Downtown
Nice Apartment Available
BOOYA!! Classy 1BR + Cozy Gas Fireplace

The last one is my ad, of course 😉  Hey, I was excited to see some great headlines too, some I wish I had written!  But most were yawners.

Your prospective tenants will never see your ad if the headline doesn’t make them CLICK.  The headline is the Ad for your Ad.  Work it!

Learn to use the “AIDA” formula that is famously used by copywriters:



You must, must get your prospective tenant’s attention with your headline.  Wake them up!  Make them CLICK!

I have a list of words I use to wake people up.  I keep it on a yellow sticky next to my desk.  If my ad is pulling calls and applications, I don’t change it.  If I’m not getting a bunch of traffic within 2-3 days, I change the headline.  If I use “terrific” I get lots of calls from guys.  If I use “lovely” I get lots of calls from ladies.  I also use words that I see my tenants use (and words that my nieces and nephues use).


After the prospective tenant has CLICKED, you need to build interest in your unit fast — you have about 3 seconds before they start to click away.  Make a list of all the features and especially the benefits to the prospective tenants if they rent your unit.

Some of the ads I read today are like: “Four white walls, kitchen, bath, living room, running water.”  Yeah!  Can’t wait to see that.

“New” is a big seller.  Also, “fresh,” “immaculate,” “plush.”  Sprinkle a few adjectives, without making it sound strained or cheesey.


Think like a tenant (a normal living, breathing, human being).  You want the most enjoyment out of life as possible.  Maybe you want quiet, solace, peace, escape.  Maybe you want to be close to this or that.  Maybe you want a nice place to raise a family.  Now make a list of features and benefits that answer those wishes and desires for your prospective tenants, such as “new paint,” “plush carpet,” “great neighbors,” “fabulous location.”

Good pictures in your ads are also a great way to build interest.

And using Postlets is a great and easy way to make your ad look a little more polished and professional for free!


Some of the ads I read today went like: “Blah, blah, blah, phone number.”  Flunk.

Your ad should read like: “Pow! Pow! Pow! Call now!

There has to be a “call to action” at the end of your ad.  Tell the prospective tenant what to do next!  “Call now!”  “Send me a text.”  “Send me an email.”  “Do it quick before this terrific unit is gone!”

Also, when a prospective tenant responds, the landlord, agent or property manager has to take fast action to get them through the unit while interest is still high.

I have prospective tenants tell me all the time that landlords, agents, and property managers don’t return their calls – especially on weekends.  One of my tenants told me the worst part of shopping  for an apartment was getting a landlord to show up and open the door.  I rent my units way faster than most landlords, because I have solved those problems for my prospective tenants.

I hope these tips will help you fill your units faster and increase your cash flow!

  • I have had some success using to create a floorplan and post it with the ad. The site is free to use, so it is even better.


    May 1, 2012

  • Congrats on your successful year!
    Great article…I noticed that I naturally do some of them however I agree that some of the ads are very lame on craigslist that do not take any attention from tenants, most of the time I feel sorry for the landlord.

    Pelin Guzel

    November 28, 2011

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