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Your Guide to Writing Effective Ad Copy

Dec 5, 2018 1:31:07 AM

The following tips for writing effective real estate ads focus on capturing a buyer’s immediate attention.

The suggestions here apply to classified real estate ads and the first sentence in your MLS listings.

Most online tips for writing effective real estate ads focus on this basic structure:

  • Headline that stands out from other ads.

  • Opening sentence introducing the best features.

  • Description of the property’s basic features in a narrative format.

  • Promotions like a small discount or seller financing as incentives.

  • Call to Action telling buyers how to act.

Advanced advertising methods take these 5 steps further. Ad agencies and marketing professionals recommend adding the following to the above-mentioned 5 steps:

  • Appeal Grabs emotional attention

  • Value – Reason for buyer interest

  • Slogan Positions the property in a buyer’s mind

  • Call to Action Motivates buyers to purchase now

While these additional recommendations appear the same, the subtle differences make ads stand out in a sea of listings.


Just as shocking media headlines invoke negative emotions when they run in newspapers or online news sources, listing headlines that scream “urgency,” like “Must Sell Fast!” can alarm potential buyers. They may just wonder, “Why the rush?” or, “What’s wrong with this property?”

Appeal, on the other hand, arouses positive emotions that entice buyers to act confidently in their interests. For example, an ad that begins with “Breathtaking Ocean Views” has greater appeal than the same oceanfront home using a headline like “Ocean View” or “Oceanfront Home.”

Appeal brings a property’s best feature to the forefront, invoking an immediate emotional response. Consider a property’s best feature. Ask yourself, “What do I really like about this home?” Then ask yourself, “Why?”

A nice swimming pool in the backyard isn’t automatically a home’s best feature. However, if buyers are previewing the home on a sunny, hot day, the pool could seem like the perfect oasis. Or maybe, the pool is the only one in the neighborhood. In either case, advertising the pool could be wise. Consider telling buyers to “Cool Off On a Hot Summer’s Day” or letting them know it’s the “Only Pool for a Mile.”

Emphasize features that could elicit a positive buyer response, like: views (“Breathtaking Views”), air conditioning in every room (“Stay Cool in Every Room”), fruit trees in the backyard (“Fresh Fruits Included”), cozy fireplace (“Romantic Fires”), and a gourmet kitchen (“Feast at Home”).

Upgrades always appeal to thrifty buyers who want to avoid costly repairs. New appliances (“10 Year Warranty All Appliances”), refinished hardwood floors (“Exotic Polished Oak Floors”), improved heating and ventilation (“Warm Winters and Cool Summers”), etc.

Convenient area amenities like nearby shopping (“5-Minute Stroll to Mall”), public transit (“3-Minute Walk to Subway”), or a 10-minute walk to 5-star restaurants (“Gourmet Eating 10 Minutes Away”), etc.

Name brands always pique buyer interest. Advertise appliances in your listings: (“German Bosch® Appliances”), gourmet kitchen (“Jenn-Air® Gourmet Kitchen”), modern shower system (“Delta® Rain Shower”), etc.

Adjectives always help. Instead of a “nice” bungalow, use “Gorgeous.” Instead of “large backyard,” use “Spacious Backyard Perfect for Family Gatherings.” A “pleasant” home can be described as “Elegant,” instead.


Real estate experts often mention “value” as a buyer’s greatest motivation. How often do you hear a buyer say, “I can’t afford this.” If value matters, you need to find a good “value” home for your buyer.

Think of how a buyer responds to an agent saying, “This might be just above your price range.”  How about, “This home looks expensive, but you can afford it.” Which one appeals to a value-oriented buyer?

Your ads must speak to the demographics of your ideal buyer based on income, budget, and age. For example, if you’re listing the perfect home for a millennial on a fixed income, you’ll want to advertise the property as an “Affordable Millennial Dream Home.”

Don’t leave out the sales price — buyers will assume it’s too expensive.   


The best commercials use a memorable slogan. For instance, McDonald’s – “I’m Lovin’ It,” Subway – “Eat Fresh,” and KFC – “Finger-Lickin’ Good.” The “Pepsi Generation” slogan began in 1963, and in 2018, the company launched its new "Pepsi Generations" campaign.

The purpose of a slogan is to differentiate a house from its competitors. How do you do that?

Focus on the benefits. Which benefits scream “Buy Me”? Why is this home different and better than similarly priced homes? The popular neighborhood, the home’s architectural style, remodeling potential, a gorgeous front yard, or perhaps a spacious backyard with a pool?

Consider a cozy home nestled in colorful foliage on popular Elm Street. A good slogan might be, “Find Your Nook on Elm Street.”

Or, a Smart Home powered by Artificial Intelligence with the latest computer-controlled gadgets could use a slogan like, “Embrace Your Future.”

A luxurious home underpriced for a fast sale could use a slogan like, “Your Gateway to a Richer Life.”

Call to Action

The Call to Action encourages buyers to buy now.

Start with a verb and incorporate a benefit or a “What’s in it for me?” Here’s the formula:

Call to Action = Verb + What’s in it for Me

Examples include:

Click Here to see a virtual tour of this unique home.

Call Today to view this enchanting home.

Contact Us Now to see the [Insert Slogan].     

Call Now, as the [Insert Slogan] may not be available for long.

Make an Appointment Today to see this [Insert Slogan].

Remember to include the different ways to contact you in your ads. Include cell number, work number, physical address, email address, etc. at the very end of the ad after your Call to Action.

Descriptive Words

All of the steps mentioned above need descriptive words to invoke a positive buyer reaction. Here’s a list of descriptive words to use in your ads:

  • Appealing

  • Beautiful

  • Breathtaking

  • Captivating

  • Charming

  • Classic

  • Cozy

  • Elegant

  • Exclusive

  • Exquisite

  • Luxurious

Always use positive words in your ads. Instead of “Old,” try “Charming.” Instead of “Small,” try “Cozy.” If a home needs work, try “Needs Some TLC.”

Always emphasize the property’s best features.

Honesty Works

In conclusion, these tips for writing effective real estate ads must always be honest. Don’t overhype or oversell. Buyers see enough ads to know what’s real and what’s a blatant exaggeration. Never lie. Your professional reputation depends upon truth in advertising.

And when you’re trying to build an impressive reputation, there’s no better way than with a book you authored. That’s what you get with a MyBooks membership.

Your membership includes:

  • License to use 14 real estate books as your own.

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avatar_joe Joe Nickelson is a real estate professional dedicated to helping home buyers and sellers achieve their real estate dreams, and helping real estate agents stop using the sometimes-vicious tactics that weigh on their consciences. He believes that the Smart Agents books will, quite literally, change people’s lives for the better. Check out his full bio here

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