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How to Write a Great Rental Listing Ad

April 12, 2023

Write Rental Listing Ads to Attract the Best Tenants

Rental property revenue and ROI all begin with an online rental vacancy advertisement.

This key communications piece, if written correctly and placed on the right vacancy listing websites, can make a big difference to leasing agents and property owners. In fact, this task could make or break some landlords.

With occupancy rates falling and rents plunging in some cities this year and next, your ads could save the day and reach those well employed, conscientious, and reliable tenants you’re looking for.  It’s this initial phase of the rental property revenue stream that provides the best boost for your long term rental yields.


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Take Your Time to Understand the Results you Need

Writing listing ads is both an art and science.  The wording and content of your vacancy advertisements create attention, impact, and engagement which stimulates emotions to drive renter decisions.  Your ideal renters (discussed below) look for ads that seem to be targeting them.  If you’re specific and smart, you might get exactly what you’re hoping for.

Write it poorly and place it poorly, and the result is a tsunami of rental applications for low quality candidates.  And top online placement and presentation gets value propositions across to the best tenant prospects.

Zumper Apartments for Rent

Rental Listings ads. Screenshot courtesy of Zumper.

As we progress through 2023, we should be creating ads that deliver a laser clear message to the right audience. With a great listing technology plus great writing skills you can hone, you can generate ads that will make difference for your property management company’s bottom line.

As you improve, you’ll gain better respect for your role in producing great tenants and avoiding attracting applicants you don’t want.

Many pros in the industry still find it difficult to understand that this business is about quality renters. Your vacancy ad is like the packaging you see on the retail store shelf. It should be inviting.  In one small ad, you either convey your property is an amazing tenant lifestyle experience or a cheap, temporary rental for bargain hunters.

One Stop Shop for Your Rental Listings

You can create your listing ads and automate your advertisements to the best apartment listing sites online via your ManageCasa Account. Save time and get better results with good ads and the best syndicated visibility available.


Write Great Rental Listing Ads Well

Your apartment rental listing ad is a like a dinner bell sounding to draw in the ideal tenant.  You want it so that only your targeted tenant will hear it.  Have your ideal best tenant in mind as you write your advertisements and place them in high quality locations online.

By writing ads correctly you will:

  • attract the right renters faster
  • communicate the right message to the right candidate
  • avoid unwanted phone calls and applications
  • avoid future turnover and income losses
  • avoid extra administration and rent default processing time later
  • avoid future evictions and a troublesome tenant
  • get better quality leads, thus better results from your marketing budget
  • make prospects more genuinely excited about your rental property
  • improve your ROI

The right approach is to include only the vital benefits and features your target renters are wanting.

If you’re desperately focusing on details, it may not communicate the big picture of value that they’re seeking.  Consider instead, removing anything that might turn off good quality renter applicants.  Gather your key value points and assemble them in an attractive way (e.g., safety, convenience, comfort, lifestyle, and a few amenities that prove it).

Standard Items to Include in a Useful Listing Ad

  1. Accurate and Descriptive Title: The title should clearly indicate what is being offered, such as “Spacious 2-Bedroom Apartment in Prime Location.”
  2. High-Quality Photos: Include clear and well-lit photos that showcase the apartment’s key features, such as the living room, kitchen, bedrooms, and amenities.
  3. Detailed Description: Provide a comprehensive and engaging description of the apartment, highlighting its unique selling points, such as modern appliances, ample storage, or a balcony. Avoid hype words which tend to draw desperate lower quality renters.
  4. Location Information: Clearly state the apartment’s location, including the neighborhood, nearby amenities (e.g., parks, schools, transportation), and any notable landmarks.
  5. Rent and Lease Terms: Clearly state the rent amount, security deposit, lease duration, and any additional fees, as well as any special promotions or discounts.
  6. Amenities: Highlight the amenities available in the apartment complex, such as a fitness center, swimming pool, laundry facilities, or pet-friendly policies.
  7. Floor Plan: Include a floor plan of the apartment layout to help potential renters visualize the space.
  8. Contact Information: Provide clear and easy-to-find contact information for the landlord or property manager, including phone number, email address, and preferred method of communication.
  9. Availability: State the availability date of the apartment and any upcoming open house or viewing dates.
  10. Safety and Security: Highlight any safety features of the apartment, such as secure entry, on-site security, or well-lit common areas.
  11. Parking Spaces: Provide information about the parking options available, such as on-site parking, street parking, or nearby parking garages.
  12. Utilities and Appliances: Clearly state which utilities and appliances are included in the rent, such as water, electricity, heating, cooling, and major appliances (e.g., refrigerator, dishwasher, washer/dryer).
  13. Nearby Amenities: Highlight nearby amenities that potential renters may find appealing, such as restaurants, shopping centers, public transportation, and entertainment venues.
  14. Positive Testimonials or Reviews: Include testimonials or reviews from previous or current tenants to build trust and credibility.

Make your Irresistible Ad Unique to Stand Out

Here’s an example of a common ad that doesn’t get results. It doesn’t provide benefits, includes common, redundant info, and right away places a burden on the renter:

Charming, refurbished 2 bedroom flat on subway line. $3500 month plus security deposit. Renter supplies background screening check. References required.

This ad says “we don’t care who rents this apartment just as long as someone vouches for them.”

If you were to imitate the majority of ads you see in the apartment rental classifieds, you’d not only not stand out, you’d be targeting a less desirable, mediocre tenant candidate.

Have a read of this 1 sentence advertisement placed recently on This ad is completely desperate, stuffed with low value features.  It clamors desperately for attention, but it is impersonal and comes across as low value.  It attracts desperate bargain hunters, who may not have the financial capability to pay consistent rent over the next 5 years.<

***LIVE WITH THE CELEBS***BARGAIN**SOHO-CENTRAL***JUNIOR 1 BED 1 BA***STEPS TO EXP TRAINS**NO FEE*** *****SOHO BARGAIN OF THE YEAR****NO BROKERS FEE**** *****AVAILABLE NOW****MUST SEE***** This cosy JUNIOR 1 BEDROOM 1 bathroom features hard-wood floors, over-sized windows with reflecting rays of natural sunlight, reg-sized open kitchen is with complete granite counter-tops, top of the line stainless steel appliances and plenty of cabinet space, bathroom is decor-ed with ceramic subway tiled walls with a mirror medicine cabinet and a sparkly finishing touch, bedroom can fit a single-to-just about a queen sized beds and has plenty of closet space, separate living-room can fit a sectional couch,coffee table, breakfast table and lots more living-space. ***NO BROKERS FEE*** ****WILL RENT FAST***

Why are your Writing Your Ad?

As mentioned, your ad is to appeal to a specific type of renter (not discrimination). You have a business to run, and you need good customers.  You are wise to investigate these renter archetypes to help you visualize. Write directly to that specific profile in mind.

How you express yourself, the words you choose, and what your selling proposition is makes them believe your vacant suite is their dream apartment/condo. It fits them like a glove and they’ll pay the max.

What Are You Selling?

Tenants want a great place to live in the ideal location to give them the lifestyle they dream of. When your listing is the same as all the others online, it hardly speaks of great value. Your unit’s just another clone, and that makes it a commodity, and they automatically seek the lowest rent price.

We have to woo them with some attention-holding copy and irresistible lifestyle benefits!  This is applied psychology.

Describe the property and the unit in an enticing way, if you aren’t doing so now, and you’ll screen in as many potential high quality renters as possible. If you word it wrong, and don’t present the right features and benefits, prospects will be turned off and not investigate.

If it’s a garden apartment surrounded by large lawns, trees, flowers, woods, and maybe a pond, why not play it up as a nature lovers paradise? How does your archetype view that property?

Tech and home offices are hot, if you have any technology amenities, you’ll draw tech workers and tech loving families.

Too many rental ads are deceptive and they draw window shopping inquirers who waste of your busy landlord time. Other ads miss the target completely or aren’t on the right websites where they search. Be on the best large rental listing websites and you’ll have the reach you need.  Better yet, use ManageCasa’s amazing rental listing syndication service. You can’t improve on that reach.

Writing to Your Audience

Visualize the type of person who would like to rent your unit. Speak directly to that renter profile. If it’s a single female, well educated professional, you can expect she’ll be more discerning of the quality of the apartment in the city, the safety, the people in the building, and the neighborhood.

If the target is a middle aged couple wanting a townhouse in the suburbs, you may indicate the square footage, rooms, open concept style, number of bathrooms and bedrooms, proximity to retail stores, safety features, and a small backyard for their bbq might be compelling for them.

But what is the essence of why they want to live there? It’s likely the roominess, safety, quiet, freedom to drive where they want, when they want, get kids to their sports or other activities, and commute to work quickly.

How you structure and write your listing predicts who will respond to it. You can write to an upscale audience by using elegant language that speaks of exquisite lifestyle benefits or to a downscale audience by using common, popular language describing more practical benefits such as affordability.

Your ad doesn’t have to be pretty and poetic, it just needs to get the right benefits across. The prospective tenant is intelligent and able to see and tally the key benefits they want. If the ad shows you understand the lifestyle, comfort and freedom they want, in a sensible order, it’s a logical next step to call you and be serious about it.

Where to Advertise? Rental listing sites? Craigslist?, local newspaper sites,, and other classifieds?  Where you advertise determines who applies. Some of them don’t allow descriptions which means you get hundreds of window shoppers and useless inquiries. These big sites attract volume not quality.

What’s your Value Proposition to Renters?

Diane Batayeh, CEO of Village Green, which operates in more than 30 U.S. cities, in a statement. “To maximize resident satisfaction, we need to ensure that renters [believe they’re] getting a special experience and living in an environment filled with sought-after amenities and the feel of home.” — excerpt from Multifamily Executive

What are the specific features your ideal tenant wants vs what your site possesses? It’s a good idea to list all the benefits so you can pick the most appealing. Here’s some ideas:

  • new stainless steel appliances
  • energy-star rated appliances
  • oversized suite
  • nearby, steps from, convenient
  • open concept floor plan
  • convenient location to work or important activities
  • new, renovated, modern design, contemporary kitchen, granite countertops
  • very clean and bright
  • parking, commuter friendly, highway access nearby
  • dishwasher and ensuite laundry
  • close space and storage
  • lots of light, nice view, panoramic, picturesque, near parks, green space
  • air conditioning
  • friendly, nice neighborhood
  • affordable rent
  • a community with a “home like feel”
  • free wifi, building work center with plug ins, keyless entry

If your building, neighborhood, and vacant apartment aren’t all that, you can still present it as a desirable, affordable place to live.

Keep it simple focused on the key benefits your renter profile is hunting for:

_______ adjective________type of place______ at ________ great location

e.g., expansive 2 bedrooms with big storage for the athletic type close to biking/jogging trails.


Prioritize their wants and needs — use the top 3 in the headline:

e.g. get to classes quick in this 1 bedroom condo, new energy star appliances, spotless bathroom and kitchen, near 4 colleges downtown. $1800/ month. Call Jackie before 5:00 at 555 405 0303.

Affordable studio apartment available now. In demand, modern building with convenient amenities, at unbeatable location, full fitness center, near to transit. $1800 per month.

Are there any words you should avoid using?

Common, overused, out of style words can make readers gloss over your ad. Words such as spacious, cozy, charming, quaint, nice, unique, newly painted, must see, are fluffy and express weak value. And words like spotless can happen if you actually get your unit cleaned professionally and check it yourself. Cleanliness is a benefit everyone wants.

Some feel abbreviations are not advisable, however they do respect the reader’s time and shift focus to your descriptive, convincing words.

Have a good look at your newspaper classifieds or Craigslist and you’ll see for yourself words that are overused and untrustworthy — desperate landlords or owners trying to rent a place nobody wants or the ad appears suspicious.

Energizing Emotive Words to include:

  • great views, comfortable, near green space, spotlessly clean, nice neighborhood, the price, the neighborhood name, subway stop, key intersection

The Call to Action

Do you need a strong call to action? Yes. They want to be moved to apply, by you.

After your pitch, including your selling proposition to get them over inertia, they’ll be pausing to consider your value proposition.  Those pauses and gaps can result in them leaving your ad/website. That’s the moment of decision. Keep them moving forward by suggesting the next step such as “Call Phil at 555 456 7657”  or “inquire or visit our apartment listing website now.”

The more visual and engaging your unit listing is, the less likely they will abandon it.

If your audience is well selected, and you’re confident, then you can be more assertive and allow them to book a viewing.  You can send them onto your renter application page so you can find out more about them, to pre-qualify them before they actually do choose a viewing date.

Check Out the ManageCasa Marketing Website Feature

It’s wise to have a rental website where you can list your units.  Having complete control over the listing features, photos, and descriptions is wise.  If people do click forward to arrive on your website, they’re likely more motivated too.

A nice website conveys and validates your professionalism which creates trust for the good renters searching. Video and high quality photographs can be included to enhance your vacancy listings.  Practice your new writing skills, manage your listings, rental applications and viewings conveniently within your ManageCasa account dashboard.

It’s a convenient, affordable all in one property management solution and is by far the best choice for your portfolio.

Learn more about ManageCasa’s amazing syndicated listing service now.


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See also: Property Management Software | Rental Application Fraud | Rental Listing Sites | Houses for Rent |  Apartment Management SoftwareApartment Rental PricesHow to Screen Tenants | Find Best Tenants | Toronto Property Management | Los Angeles Property Management | Property Management Guide


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