May 23, 2012

How to Write Tenant-Attracting Craigslist Ads

Image representing Craigslist as depicted in C...

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Craigslist began as a simple email distribution list in San Francisco in 1995 and now operates in more than 50 countries. In 2001, Vancouver, BC became Craigslist’s first city outside of the U.S. and there are currently 20 regional Craigslists across Canada.

Advertising housing on Craigslist is free for Canadian landlords and property managers, and with 80 million new advertisements a month, Craigslist is an advertising powerhouse.

But how do you make your Craigslist ad stand out in a crowded market? Here are some tips on crafting tenant-attracting classified ads.

1. Use a strong descriptive headline.

Be sure to give the essential information about the apartment right at the top. Include:

intersection
number of bedrooms
rent per month
favourable adjectives like “airy”, “spacious” or “bright”,
whether it is in a basement

Don’t be afraid to be creative. With a free ad, you can afford to experiment with different headlines like, “fabulous lake view,” “10 mins to downtown,” or “village living in the city”.

2. Pack the ad with good copy.

You are not limited by space on Craigslist in the same way as a print ad, so the more information that you can include the better. This is your chance to really sell the apartment by painting a picture in the prospect’s mind of what it might be like to live there. Use descriptive words to tell a story by highlighting:

positives about the neighbourhood and conveniences nearby (steps to IGA, bus stop in front, elementary school a 2-minute walk)
size and details of the unit (recently renovated, south-facing, hardwood floors)
the amenities like parking, laundry and appliances included with the apartment and if the building has any common rooms, gym, pool, sauna, etc.
property management information attractive to tenants, like on-site maintenance, online invoicing, or mobile app.
street address with link to a Google map

3. Make it look great.

 You can bold, underline and italicize your text, add some colour, paragraph breaks, a bulleted or numbered list, and make text links in your ad with a little HTML. Never used HTML before? Use Craigslist’s step-by-step guide to help you.

4. Photos, photos, photos.

Craigslist limits the number of photos that you can include with your ad to four. If you have additional photos available on another website, be sure to say so in your ad and include the link. If you have video of the apartment, include that link. Make sure the photos are up to date. In other words, if it’s spring outside, don’t show pictures with Christmas lights on display. Unless there is another element that is outstanding, the four photos included in your ad should be:

building exterior
bedroom
kitchen
living room

5. Rental terms.
Put your screening criteria in the ad to target the right prospects. Include information about what type of tenant you want and when the apartment will be available. Be sure to include your policy on:

utilities
pets
deposit
credit check
references

One caveat: Yes, put in a few brief notes about your terms, but there is no need to write a small book about all the contract details. This can effectively kill your ad.

6. Contact details.

Not everyone likes the telephone. Some people feel more comfortable with email or even text messaging. Give your prospects different ways of contacting you. Along with your name and the name of the property management company, include as many of these as you can:

cell phone number
office number
email address
Twitter account
company Facebook page

Lastly, include a link to your online application form, if you have one. Urge prospects to get a jump on the process completing the form today and to contact you quickly before they miss out.

7. Keep your ad performing.

If your ad isn’t performing well, take another look at the photos you’ve used or see if there are errors or omissions in your copy or headline. Experiment with your ads by appealing to different audiences, depending on the location of the property or the demographics of the area. Remember that what works for a high rise in the suburbs may not be effective for downtown garden townhouse.

8. Avoid spamming.

Craigslist may remove your listing if your online behaviour makes them suspect that you are a spammer. Don’t:

post multiple times with the same email address within 48-hours
post the same ad to multiple cities
put your ad in the wrong category
make all your ads sound and look the same

9. Stay organized.
Now that you’ve written a great Craigslist ad, be sure to save it offline for future reference. Keep your ads on your computer so that you can refresh and reuse the ad the next time around. Be sure to include the photos to save you from hunting them down in multiple locations.

With these points in mind you are certain to attract the right tenants for your property and keep your units filled. Craigslist will be the best money you never spent!

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Comments

  1. 1 Marcel Ambros said at 10:36 am on July 17th, 2012:

    Hi Leonard,
    these are great tips
    Marcel from BC
    I use to manage several Transglobe Properties and all of the was %100 ocupied due to a good advertising on craiglist

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