A man and woman look at rental listings on a phone in their apartment

Don’t underestimate the power of a well-crafted rental listing. It can determine whether your unit gets rented quickly or sits vacant for weeks or even months. 

Along with clearly stating the essentials — the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, parking, location, asking rent prices and security deposit — here’s how to make your listing deliver results: 

1. Start with an attention-grabbing headline

Kevin Bazazzadeh, founder of Houston-based real estate investing company Brilliant Day Homes, says the best headlines highlight a property’s unique selling points. 

“Pick out some of your property’s best features — like a garden or a terrace — and use adjectives wisely so tenants click for more details,” he says. “For example, opt for ‘private garden’ or ‘sun-soaked terrace’ to describe your unit.” 

Theresa Raymond, owner of TN Smoky Mtn Realty in Tennessee, says it helps to write the headline after you’ve finalized the property description. “Once you get that down, take the highlights and utilize them as the foundation of your listing title,” she says. 

It’s also a good idea to pay attention to search engine optimization (SEO). “Including a well-known landmark or nearby neighborhood can make your rental more searchable,” Bazazzadeh says. 

2. Be honest and concise 

Tomas Satas, founder of Chicago-area real estate investment firm Windy City HomeBuyer, says the best listings are honest and transparent. 

“Listings should be positive and upbeat but also honest,” Satas says. “If there’s a downside, be upfront about that, and softly sprinkle it in along with a positive attribute. For example, when I owned a building next to the train, I let them know that the apartment was very close to the train tracks, which meant a very short walk while commuting.” 

Satas also recommends being concise and conveying every detail of the rental unit in as few words as possible. 

“Rental hunters aren’t looking to spend any extra time on unnecessary details, like how friendly the neighbor’s dog is,” he says. “Just the facts, please. But tell the truth quickly — and in an exciting way.” 

3. Emphasize quality of life

The key to catching renters’ attention is emphasizing the quality of life they can expect from signing a lease with you, according to Mark Severino, a real estate investor based in Dallas. 

“It’s not that there is covered parking; it’s that your car is protected from the elements and you know it’s safe while you sleep at night,” Severino says. “It’s not that you are close to restaurants and bars; it’s that you’ll have the time of your life seeing friends because it’s so convenient to walk to the hot spots.” 

In other words, Severino says, “sell the sizzle, not the steak.” 

4. Include vibrant images and offer virtual tours

While click-worthy rental listings have well-written descriptions, they need high-quality images and videos to keep people engaged. 

Using visuals, “[showcase] the most aesthetic areas of the property with a small description that’s to the point,” says Mike Kern, a home builder and real estate investor in San Diego. 

Kern incorporates virtual 360-degree viewing functionality on listings so that people considering moving to the area from out of town can get a better sense of the property. 

“If they want to inquire about a particular property, clients can immediately schedule a virtual appointment, which includes 360-degree viewing with video guidance and descriptions about each space,” Kern says. “This idea has been highly successful in expanding the marketing of my properties.” 

Raymond agrees that along with great photos, adding videos to listings can make all the difference in the world. 

“The biggest inconvenience for a renter could be going to an open house,” she says. “You can quickly fix this by producing a top-notch video tour.” 

If you’re on a tight budget, a smartphone works fine for capturing a video tour, Raymond says. If you’re renting a high-end property, however, she recommends hiring a professional videographer. 

“The biggest inconvenience for a renter could be going to an open house. You can quickly fix this by producing a top-notch video tour.”
—Theresa Raymond

5. Test listing structures and iterate accordingly

Experiment with listings regularly to see what’s most effective, recommends Ron Wysocarski, a real estate broker based in Port Orange, Florida. 

“This helps grab insight on which details and what kind of approach catches potential renters and their interests,” he says. “Rephrasing certain things, renumbering the order of amenities, and using different adjectives are small yet influential changes that could potentially have a big impact.” 

While you’re at it, test different images and different listing platforms to see which combinations help you generate the most traffic — and the most qualified prospective renters. 


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