How to Write the Perfect Apartment Listing

Dominique Swanson

By Dominique Swanson

Apr 09, 2024

Writing a standout apartment listing is crucial for attracting prospective tenants' attention, especially when it will be competing against many other similar apartment listings in the area. How you showcase your apartments online can make all the difference in filling vacancies quickly, but there are some key elements that you’ll need to be successful.

In this article, we will walk you through exactly how you can create a listing that catches a prospect's attention and piques their interest in your property.

Ingredients To a Great Rental Listing

There are four must-have elements to your listing that will set your apartments apart from your competitors.

  1. A catchy headline
  2. A clear description
  3. High-quality photos
  4. A call to action

When advertising your apartment on an apartment listing site or a social platform like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist, you have 10 seconds to convince your audience to click on your listing according to the rule of customer attention. That starts with your photos and headline! Once a potential renter has clicked onto your apartment ad, the way you describe your property needs to keep their attention while also painting a clear image of what you have to offer. If you’ve done that well, then the final step is convincing a tenant to contact you via a clear and easy-to-access call to action button.

Properties that successfully combine the above see a much higher inquiry rate than others.

How to Write a Catchy Headline

Writing a headline for an apartment listing can be tricky because it needs to do two things at once: One, it needs to eye-catching, grabbing the attention of potential renters immediately, and two, it needs to be a clear and accurate representation of what you’re offering. For example, a headline that states an apartment is “the most affordable deal in the city” can be effective in generating a lot of clicks, but if the listing itself is priced at market rate, then it likely won’t result in a lot of leads. A great listing title is one that can pull in the right tenants who are a good fit for your property.

In some cases, the best headline could be as simple as something along the lines of “2-Bed, 2-Bath Apartment — Only $1,000 a Month!” In others, you may need to get a little more creative than simply focusing on the number of bedrooms.

When writing your headline, it’s important that you understand your target audience and what matters to them. If you know that your real estate market is driven by amenities, then adding the best features of your property into your headline will be key to intriguing potential tenants. If your rental property has a sought-after amenity like a fitness center or garage parking, include that in your headline. Move-in specials and other timely promos can also act as selling points; a renter looking to move soon will likely be incensed to tour a place with a headline advertising “1- and 2-Beds, First Month Free for April and May Move-In!”

How to Write a Clear & Compelling Property Description

Your description is the bread and butter of your listing and will tell a prospective renter whether they should tour your property. Is your property newly renovated? Walking distance to the area’s best restaurants? Do you allow pets? This is all information you can highlight in your description.

To convince them to rent with you, your writing needs to be clear. If a prospective tenant feels confused, unsure, or weary of what you have to offer while reading your rental listing description, they are much less likely to contact you for a showing.

Your description should be concise enough that it is easy to read, while also giving your prospect all the information that they need to know. Some important details to include are:

  1. Rental price
  2. Square footage
  3. Whether or not the property comes with outdoor space
  4. Utilities included in the rental price (such as Wi-Fi, heat, electricity, etc.)
  5. Appliances
  6. Unit and community amenities (like in-unit or on-site laundry, common spaces, etc.)
  7. Proximity to nearby amenities and hot spots (like restaurants, grocery stores, malls, or popular night life locations)
  8. Whether or not the unit is pet-friendly (and if pets come with any fees)
  9. Application fees
  10. Security deposit fees
  11. Unique features of the unit (for example, if it has architectural features like original molding or a fireplace in the living room)

Describe the things that make your property unique and take the time to show why someone should choose to live in your unit instead of someone else’s.

What To Avoid in an Apartment Listing Description

Just as a great rental listing convinces a prospect to contact you, a bad one can deter them from ever signing a lease for one of your apartments. So, what makes a bad apartment listing?

  1. Long, confusing descriptions that don’t use easy to digest language
  2. Writing in all caps
  3. Using improper punctuation or using excessive punctuation, such as too many exclamation points
  4. Language that is not in compliance with Fair Housing Laws
  5. Grammatical or spelling errors

The above can be huge red flags for tenants and can cause your listing to read as sloppy or unprofessional, or even fraudalent.

Why You Need to Include High-Quality Photos with Apartment Listings

Describing your apartment is one thing, but showing it off with high-quality images will take your listing to the next level. The listing photos should offer prospective tenants a glimpse into their future life at your apartment. After all, you don’t want a renter to waste time touring your property if your unit doesn’t match what they’re looking for — and on the flip side, you don’t want a great tenant to ignore your listing just because the visuals don’t catch their eye. 

While it can certainly help, professional photography is not a must. Great apartment photos can even be taken with your smartphone! Here are some tips: 

  1. Take photos straight on when possible rather than at an angle to prevent distortion.
  2. Include photos showing different features. Show off each room, desirable in home features (like laundry), and if applicable, any community amenities such as your pool, or fitness center. If a unit has ample closet space, consider even taking photos of the closets.
  3. Lighting can make or break apartment photos. If you’re looking for stunning, well-lit photos that feel nice and airy, open the blinds so you have as much natural light coming into the unit as possible. Keep in mind that early morning and late afternoon are the best times of day for natural light photos.
  4. If you are taking photos of an occupied unit, make sure you reach out to the tenant to tidy up beforehand. 

On top of taking photos, adding a 3D or virtual tour to your listing can really help a prospective tenant visualize the apartment. There are tools that can help you create a virtual tour on your own, like 360-degree cameras, online platforms such as Matterport, and editing programs, like Box Brownie.

What is a Call to Action on a Rental Property Listing?

Once your prospective tenant is ready to reach out to you, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to do so. Your call-to-action button, or CTA, will differ depending on where your rental ad is listed. For example, on ApartmentAdvisor, we make it easy for our partners: There is a contact form directly on every property listing. On another platform, you may need to include a hyperlink that redirects renters to your website. You can also simply add your phone number and email or other contact information to the listing. What’s important is that you have something that prompts the prospect to take the next step in the process. 

Need More Help Crafting the Perfect Apartment Listing?

We get it: Writing a listing for every property you own can be a drag — especially if you’re syndicating your listing to different platforms with different requirements. When you list with ApartmentAdvisor, expert digital marketing, precision unit pricing, enhanced merchandising, and targeted syndication are all included. And did we mention it’s free to list with us? Currently, these services are only available in Boston or New York City, but coming soon to other markets! Learn more about listing with ApartmentAdvisor here. 

The Bottom Line

When you want to market your property online, rental listings are a key factor, especially when using sites specifically geared towards helping prospects find apartments in their area. When you take the time to create a clear, compelling description attached to an eye-catching headline, you will find that your prospect pool grows. Use the tips outlined in this article and you’ll have everything you need to write the perfect apartment listing!

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