How to Craft Captivating Rental Listings with Emotional Triggers

Written on July 31, 2017 by , updated on December 3, 2019

Everyone has that one infuriating friend, the one who’ll stand next to you in a torrential downpour and say, “Boy, it sure is raining!” Thanks, Captain Obvious.

You may not realize it, but it’s possible that you’re playing the role of Captain Obvious every time you write a rental listing.

So many landlords choose to feature-dump when marketing their properties. Their entire listing will be a rundown of every single item and amenity inside the home. They’ll flaunt the fact that it has granite countertops, hardwood floors, cherry cabinets, and crown molding — and perhaps they’ll even punctuate the post with an emphatic “too much to list!”

What you don’t realize, however, is that renters already know your home has these features. No, it’s not because they are psychic; it’s because they looked at your photos before reading your copy. They already saw the cabinets, the countertops, and the fixtures — and they liked them enough to investigate further.

Modern-day humans have shorter attention spans than goldfish.

In your copy, you need to tell readers things they don’t already know. Modern-day humans literally have shorter attention spans than goldfish. A surface-level recap of all your features is a surefire way to lose their interest.

Emotional Intelligence

Prospective tenants may only be committed to reading your first two sentences, so you’ve got to make them count. Your goal should be to highlight your unique selling proposition while forging an emotional bond between readers and your property.

A list of features is not a unique selling proposition. You need to connect the dots for readers. Tell them why all those beautiful features they saw matter and how they make your property different from all the other ones out there.

At Marketplace Homes, my property management company, we believe there are 12 different emotional triggers that drive people to rent (or purchase) properties:

  • family
  • finances
  • investments
  • safety
  • prestige
  • ego
  • culture
  • convenience
  • recreation
  • love
  • health
  • sex

When writing listings, we identify a feature and then tie a benefit and emotion to it. We like to take what we call an “FBE” approach to ensure we’re hitting as many of these categories as possible in our copy.

If you say, “The home has a huge yard!” some people will see that and think, “No thanks. That sounds like a lot of mowing.” Instead, we’ll write something like this:

This leaves much less room for readers to find flaws in the property, and it helps them realize that a little extra mowing is worth the resulting influx of family memories.

Similarly, vaguely writing, “The home has a terrific double oven!” won’t spark the emotional urgency you need. Instead, dig a little deeper:

The FBE approach is also useful when it comes to describing the invisible virtues of the property. For example, your photos probably didn’t show that there are five hiking trails within walking distance of the home. But instead of merely stating this fact, explain it to readers:

Related: The Power of Premarketing: How to Host 70 Showings in 7 Days

Say Goodbye to Captain Obvious

All told, landlords who take the Captain Obvious approach to writing listings get left out in the rain. Forget about feature dumping. Rather, explain to potential tenants how all the things they saw — and didn’t see — in your photos will help them live more fulfilling lives.

Follow the FBE approach, and fill your properties faster!

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