First Person: What Not to Put in a Rental Ad

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I post rental ads for the properties I manage on nearly a dozen websites. While one or two sites give me nearly-unlimited space for crafting my ad, most limit the number of characters I can type in each section. Which begs the question - what do you write when you have to explain a rental in 250 characters?

Through trial and error I've learned that some descriptions bring in tenants and others do not. Don't waste precious ad space. Here's what not to include when writing a rental ad.

Property Descriptions

I've learned that most tenants care more about the rental unit itself than any property features. Start by describing the inside of the property in your ad. For example, include the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, kitchen appliances, flooring types, and private balconies. If you still have space to type, list the exterior features a tenant would care about the most - like laundry facilities or parking. You can use the BBQ grills and pool to help sell the apartment once you get the tenants to come in.

Descriptive Words

I recently read a rental ad where the landlord spent 50 percent of the space on descriptive words. If you find yourself running out of space, edit your ad and remove any unnecessary descriptions. For example, if your properties include a stackable washer and dryer in the unit, you only need to say, "In-unit washer and dryer." The tenants do not care if it is a stackable or full-size version.

Property Rules

I work with a landlord who insists on putting her tenant rules in every ad. Unfortunately, that means most of the ad reads like a list of requirements and telling someone what they can't do isn't a good marketing tool. When you write your ad, mention the length of the lease and if you do or do not allow pets. Do not go beyond that. You can tell your tenants about your guest policy when they view the property.

Exterior Photos

Most rental ad sites limit the amount of photos you can have to four or less. Don't include photos that won't matter to a tenant - like a picture of the property sign or a picture of the landscaping. Tenants browse through these quickly, stick to well-lit interior pictures only. I usually include a picture of the bathroom, kitchen, living space and bedroom. If I'm allowed more photos, I'll add one of the pool or green space on the property - and I always get good responses.

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