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Tips and advice on creating effective Rental listings

There’s more to listing your house for rent on websites like Craigslist, or ours (Ft2.om) than just posting a short text and maybe adding a little thumbnail-sized picture. If you really want your listing to attract good tenants consider the following tips:

Taking the right pictures

  • Include lots of photos of the entire property. Kitchen and bathrooms are especially important since most online rental searching is done by women. Make a photo of every room in your rental and a few shots of the exterior. Use common sense when taking these photos, pick the right angle (e.g. don't take a picture of the front of your house with a trash container right in the center of the shot). In other words pay attention to detail.
  • One small picture or no pictures is not going to work. Plenty of large size pictures is what is going to set your listing apart from other properties. Most users have high speed internet these days, so don’t worry about picture size being too large. Besides many websites re-size images for optimal viewing automatically.
  • If you have a floorplan of your property, post it online together with the photos. Our research based on web stats from many real estate sites indicates that floorplans are the first or the second most popular page visitors go to when checking out a rental or for sale property. Even if you only have a print version of your floorplan, you can scan it in and attach/upload with your listing (BTW Ft2.com allows you to upload multiple floorplans with your listing).
  • Taking a video tour or virtual tour of a house, apartment or neighborhood is the hottest new trend in real estate online. If you can, order a virtual tour or even a video tour. If you can not - do it yourself! Most digital cameras and phones have the ability to record video, which then can be transferred to your computer and uploaded to video sharing site like YouTube. Once you do that you can embed or link to your video from your listing.

Writing effective property descriptions

  • Avoid "the great wall" of text in property descriptions. Short bullet point style description that invites “come on I am easy to read” is going to work best. Most internet users glance through, not read. List most important "selling points" in the beginning and towards the end, so that your listing stands out.
  • Avoid CAPITALIZING ALL LETTERS in your property description. Some people think that making the text all-caps gets you more attention – it is untrue. All caps can actually be harder to read and it is considered “yelling” at someone on the Internet. You don't want to come across as being rude.
  • Write as if you were writing for someone who’s unfamiliar with the area. For example, if your rental is in the suburb, mention how close the major business districts and biggest employers are, e.g. 5 min to downtown, 10 min drive to the naval base, etc.
  • Don’t forget to mention all of the selling points of your home for rent. Often small things like having washer and dryer, information about the quality of life in the community, proximity to shopping areas, hospitals, low crime rate, proximity to highways and similar things can make someone choose your rental over another. If your rental is in a good school district, make sure you mentioned that. School district can be the only deciding factor for some families.
  • Don’t sound like a cheap local commercial. Phrases like “Special offer! First month rent free! Don't wait as this rental won't last long!” make the reader trust you less in everything you say. Instead, write in enthusiastic but sincere tone.

Sites to list rentals

List and advertise on multiple sites. Remember listing your rental just on one site is not merely enough. Would you spend an extra hour listing your property everywhere you can and get the tenant in a month earlier? Probably yes, unless money is not important to you. For rentals, smaller geographically focused websites like FT2.com can be a lot more effective than big Rent.com or Apartments.com type websites, or even Craigslist. Big websites often provide tiny amounts of space to advertise your property and put it side by side with hundreds of other listings.
Here’s a list of some sites to consider listing your rental with*:

  • Ft2.com - To save time you can use our service Ft2.com which allows you to push your listing to multiple websites like Craigslist, HotPads, Google Base, and several others. So you only need to create your listing once on this site. Create your free listing now.
  • Craigslist.com - free locally focused text classifieds with up to 4 pictures. Listing here is a must have but it quickly looses effectiveness as it gets buried under new listings posted each hour. In other words good exposure of your listing but extremely high competition.
  • Postlets.com – free listing, and property details page.
  • Hotpads.com – free basic listing, auction based price for featured listing (cost per day).

Your offline advertising

You've set up your online listings, now what? It comes as a surprise to many rental owners but outdoor signs, print flyers and other offline advertising methods can be as effective as any other type of advertising. However, a prospective tenant is more likely to go online to preview a property than to call you right away, so put both the listing url and the phone number on your outdoor sign and flyers. If you are running a newspaper ad, put the link to that listing in your ad. For your convenience FT2.com provides short urls to listings on our website such as: www.ft2.com/1234 

Tracking rental sites that worked

If you manage multiple rentals and need to advertise on a regular basis don’t forget to measure the results for each site you list on. How many page views did your listing get on each site? How many leads did you receive from each site? Don’t forget to ask prospects that call how they found your property. After a while you’ll know which sites work best for your area and produce good results, and which are not worth the money or the time spent. With listing on Ft2.com for example, an average rental listing owner receives several serious inquiries from prospective tenants each month.

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Note: information provided here about other sites to list your properties, such as ability to post for free, may be inaccurate since many sites change their terms of use.

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