Hundreds of ads for apartment rentals appear regularly on Craigslist. How do you make yours stand out? A catchy headline, great pictures, and an easy-to-read ad are all essential to draw eyes to your rental and make it stand out from the crowd.
Include High Quality Pictures
Pictures might be the single most important part of a Craigslist ad. Many people look at the pictures and barely read the text, or they'll filter results to show only those properties that include images. You'll greatly limit the number of potential applicants who will view your property if you don't include them. People want an idea of what the property looks like before they'll commit the time to go and physically look at it...or even to reading the ad.
You don't need an expensive camera. Most smartphones have built-in cameras that produce high quality images that will be perfect for your rental ad.
Create an Interesting Headline
Now that your ad has some great images, you'll also need a catchy, descriptive, attention-grabbing headline. It should include the price of your rental and the number of bedrooms. Other than that, you have a little wiggle room to be creative.
Compare these two headlines:
- $1500/1BR Beautiful Units with Great Amenities
- $1500/1BR Gorgeous Units in Luxury Building. Washer/Dryer in Units.
The first one is a little vague. The second adds the location—a luxury building—and a specific amenity, the washer/dryer. It's more appealing.
Your headline will attract prospective tenants to click and learn more so pick one or two standout features of your property and include them.
Some other examples of great headlines include:
- Charming 2 BR on Lovely Tree-Lined Street
- Renovated 1 BR with Utilities Included
- Must See! Updated Kitchen and Parking Included!
- Spacious Condo Just a 5 Minute Walk to the Metro
Make It Easy to Read
Don’t include all your information in one long, intimidating paragraph. Make it easy to read. You can include a brief description, but after that, you should break up the information into sections so the ad is easy to scan through quickly. Bullet points are your best friend.
This gorgeous two-bedroom, one bathroom apartment is located in Phoenix, AZ. It is centrally located near shopping and dining. This apartment is over 1000 square feet and offers a newly renovated kitchen and bathroom.
Now list your features and amenities:
- Bedrooms: 2
- Bathrooms: 1
- Rent: $1000
- Deposit: $1500
- Square Footage: 1000
- Pets Allowed: Yes
- Lease Term: 1 year
- Stainless Steel Appliances
- Marble Floors
- Central Air Conditioning
- Lots of Closet Space
- Open Floor Plan
- Spacious Backyard
- Garage Parking
- Close to Public Transportation
It will be much easier for people to skim through these bullet points to obtain the information they're looking for.
Tell the Truth!
Be honest about your apartment. Trying to lure tenants in with false or gray-area amenities will only be a waste of your time and theirs. If your property doesn’t have parking, don’t say it does. If your kitchen isn’t renovated, don’t say it is.
If a prospective tenant comes to look at your property believing that you have all new stainless steel appliances, and if you have 40-year-old avocado-colored appliances, your reply of, "At least they match" won't save the day. Even if the prospective tenants could live with the avocado-colored appliances, you've broken their trust and most people won't rent from someone they don't trust.
So tell the truth. Someone out there will be into that retro look, or at least not mind it too much if the price is right.
Follow Fair Housing Laws
You must follow the Federal Fair Housing Law in your ad, as well as Craigslist’s own non-discrimination policy. You can't discriminate against the seven protected classes: race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, and familial status. There may also be additional classes that are protected in your city or state or city, so check before you advertise.
Examples of discriminatory statements include:
- No Blacks Allowed
- Hispanic Area
- No Children Allowed
- Heavily Jewish Area
- Must Be Able to Live Independently (No Wheelchairs, Service Dogs, etc).
- Men Preferred
Your rental ad should describe your property, not who you want to live there. You can screen tenants based on criteria such as their credit checks, but your decision to select a tenant must be based on legal criteria, such as her ability to pay rent on time. It can't be because you don't want to rent to someone with children.