If there is one secret for the FSBO home seller to writing a listing ad that gets attention, it’s streamline the content to focus on the house. Keep it short and sweet, but informative enough to pique buyers’ interest. Steer away from grandiose descriptions, and resist the urge to project value that you put on features that buyers may find off-putting. Simply telling home buyers enough to raise their interest, and not so much that they can find a detail that turns them off. Your goal is to encourage buyers by giving them reason to want to learn more about your property.

Up front, most home buyers will immediately expect three bits of information: the price, the location, and the number of bedrooms.

What to Avoid when writing a home listing ad

Avoid language that may encourage some home buyers to avoid your property altogether, such as “needs repairs.” Many buyers set out to find a property that fits a specific image in their minds, but end up purchasing a property quite different, just because they went to see a house and fell in love with something about it. Your listing ad should draw buyers in enough to take a look for themselves at what you have to offer.

What to include in a home listing ad

The number one rule of thumb for writing a successful listing is to be direct and to-the-point. Leading with the home’s selling price will immediately attract serious buyers. In addition to the selling price and terms, the first line should include your home’s location since many home buyers only skim through property listings in search of those in a specific area. Include terms that will enhance visibility in search engines and among buyers knowledgeable of the area—the zip code, a nearby well-known street or intersection; a nearby well-known landmark; the neighborhood’s nickname, or the name of the historic district if your house is in one.

The key to the listing ad is to entice buyers to come see the house for themselves. Many home sellers may be wary of mentioning the desired selling price or area at the beginning of their listing ad, but it’s important to remember that most buyers will only look at houses within their price range and location. They may skip your listing altogether if they don’t spot the price and location instantly as they skim. Plus, only serious buyers are going to respond to a listing that gives them the price and location up front.

Details, details

Next, focus on the descriptive qualities of the house itself. First, state the number of bedrooms. Next, mention things like a garage, a fenced backyard, the number of bathrooms (if more than one) or a quiet street. Also be sure to mention any new renovations, remodeling, or home improvements. This appeals to potential buyers who are looking for an updated kitchen or bathroom, a new roof, or a new HVAC system. Next mention features that have wide appeal such as a fireplace, patio, outdoor kitchen, finished basement, finished attic, central air conditioning, bay windows, crown molding, vintage details, walk-in closets and the like. Downplay features that lack universal appeal such as a swimming pool, sauna, built-in coffeemaker; duplicate appliances, whole-house vacuums and such.

Streamline the deets

Wrap your listing up by streamlining the details, focusing on the house itself. Don’t get carried away about something that the next home owner may not like—if you’ve turned the entire front yard into an elaborate garden, for instance, a buyer may not want to take on the upkeep. But if you can just entice them to come see the home, what buyers think they want often changes. Your listing should give buyers the necessary information they’re seeking, without giving them any reason to eliminate the home from consideration before seeing it. The goal is to appeal to serious buyers who will be interested in finding out more about your house.

The most effective listings are short, simple, and non-threatening. These are the listings that tell the largest number of potential buyers what they want to hear. Here is an example of a strong listing:

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