16 Common Mistakes Found in Rental Ad Listings

16 Common Mistakes Found in Rental Ad Listings

You have decided to rent your house. You have decided on a price to list your house. The decision has been made regarding what extras you will offer (washer and dryer, landscaping, etc). You are ready to list your home and have decided which of the 18 different places you will list the house.

The next step is to create a great rental ad.

If you are anything like me the first time I listed my house, you are stuck. You don’t know how to put together a great ad. The first time I created my ad, I did everything WRONG. Looking back, I am surprised that the house even rented. Here are the tricks that I have learned over the years to creating a great ad.

16 Ways to Create Your Best Rental Ad

1. Put the Pictures in Order as You Would Walk Through the House

Unorder Ad Photos

You want the pictures to show a story as you walk through the house. Think of it as a virtual tour. The last thing you want to do is jump all over the place and confuse the interested party. Most people will just move on instead of call and inquire. While it’s a personal preference, it drives me crazy when something other than the front of the house is the first picture. The only exception is if there is a water view or other significant feature.

2. Use Accurate Pictures

You don’t want dark or ugly pictures or even pictures from three tenants ago when the property was much nicer. You also don’t want to use widening or other trick photography to make the house appear nicer than house would appear in person. The goal is to have the pictures create a realistic expectation.

3. Don’t Use Too Many Photos

Multiple Pictures

There is such a thing as over sharing. No one needs to see four pictures of the front of the house at every angle. I personally include one picture of every room, including bathrooms and walk-in closets. If there are different aspects to the front and back of the house, you can include a photo of each.

4. Curb Appeal is Important

Lack of Curb Appeal

Pictures are your first impression. You need to show curb appeal in your rental ad. The idea of photos is to create an impression of what the house would look like. Some people rent sight unseen, so they will not see your house in person before they rent. Others only look at a select few they are really interested in.

5. Always Include at Least ONE Picture

No Picture Available
Picture of Front of House correct

Which picture would make you the most interested? In my opinion, Zillow’s default picture is very unflattering. While I often put up my ad before I am ready with new pictures, I always include at least a picture of the front of the house. By doing at least one gorgeous photo, it attracts people to inquire about the rental even if there were no other pictures.

6. Always Include A Picture of the Front of the House

Not A Good Front of House Picture

I always laugh when I am looking at ads and see this type of picture as the first picture. It’s even worst when there are no outside shots of the house at all. Make sure you don’t forget the outside pictures while you are focusing on getting the inside.

7. Don’t Forget to List the Assets 

Nothing is worse than if the description says gorgeous backyard or pool and no backyard or pool picture is provided. Always include all parts of the house.

8. Declutter Your House Before You Take Pictures

Always declutter your house before you take pictures. Move furniture and put away knick-knacks. Too much stuff can make a house look small and cramped, which is the last thing you want a potential tenant to think. A friend once told me that she had a laundry basket that she would fill up as she moved around the house. She would move items, take pictures, and move it back. While this task may be tedious, it helped give her house the best possible edge.

9. Have a Description

Have a Description

You want some kind of description and not just an address.

10. Be Careful About Your Wording

Words Not To Use

I read in one of my legal books to be very careful with the words you use in your rental ad — you should never use words that could convey a promise, such as safe, quiet, etc. As you wouldn’t want to be liable if the house was broken into, because you broke your promise.

11. Keep it Short and Sweet

Long Description

I remember when I wrote my first rental ad. It was longer and more descriptive than the one above. I remember a friend saying short and sweet and she was right. I honesty find less is more, as people often stop reading if there are too many words.

12. Don’t Use ALL CAPS


When  you are writing your ad, don’t use all caps. It is not only hard to read, but also annoying. You don’t want potential tenants to glass over your listings.

13. Save Your Landlording Policy for Personal Discussion

I personally don’t believe in writing out my entire screening policy. It is bulky, a lot of words, and I am afraid it can be off-putting. While it can be great if you have hundreds of calls, I prefer to tell them my criteria over the phone.

14. Don’t Repeat Yourself

You have limited words. There is no need to mention no utilities or other items multiple times. One of the reasons I have a 16-page lease is because it gives me the opportunity to spell everything out within the lease in details. While I keep my ads short and sweet, I have a very detailed lease that reviews everything. I also discuss the lease in-depth and review everything.

15. Don’t Include Too Many Details 

There is such a thing as too much information. Don’t include things like HOA fees or other items that you, the landlord, pay. It is confusing and might cause a potential tenant to keep looking.

16. Don’t Stress Over Your Rental Ad

The first couple of times I posted my ad, I did it ALL wrong. But I still found renters for my house. Trial and error, as well as being flexible is key. Take this as food for thought on how to make a great rental ad, but don’t get scared away. You will do awesome!

Did I miss anything? What mistakes have you seen or made in regards to ad postings? What has turned  you off when looking at a rental ad?

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