What to Include in Your Print Ad

When writing print ads, it is important to remember that these ads can be very expensive. Since newspapers and magazines typically charge by the number of lines you have in your ad, you need to keep your words to a minimum. At the same time, you need to be sure to communicate effectively with potential buyers as you pique their interest.

Before you get started, you must first have a clear idea of what information needs to be included in your ad. Information that is an absolute must include:

  •   The fact that you are selling the home as an FSBO
  •   The asking price
  •   The location of the home
  •   The number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  •   Your phone number

Depending on the amount of space you have available for your ad, you might also include the square footage, any special features that your house might have and other information that might pique the buyer's interest, such as words such as "motivated seller."

Ironically, many buyers end up purchasing a property that is different from what they originally thought they wanted. Therefore, you should keep in mind that adding too much information could eliminate potential buyers. In other words, you want to give enough information to grab the interest of the buyers, but not so much that the buyers can quickly cross your property off the list.

Formatting Your Ad

In most cases, your ad should start off with the price that you are asking. This will help to quickly draw in serious buyers. If you want to mention that the price is negotiable or that financing is available, this should follow the price in your ad. Adding the words "Financing Available," "Excellent Financing" or "Affordable Financing" will help put some buyers at ease, but you should only include these words if you have actually taken the steps to help pre-qualify prospective buyers.

The location of the home should come next. Unless your property is located in a highly-desirable area, avoid being too specific about where the home is located. Otherwise, potential buyers are likely to make false assumptions about the property. Remember, the goal is to get the buyers to actually come out and take a look at the home.

Listing your price and location are the two most important aspects of your ad, as serious buyers will quickly skim through ads and will pick out homes based primarily on this information. Once you have included this information, you can provide the more descriptive information. The number of bedrooms and bathrooms should come first, followed by information that is likely to attract buyers. For example, you may mention features such as "large backyard," "two-car garage," "located on quite street," "privacy fence," or "recently remodeled." At the same time, use caution when listing special features, as some features may not be as appealing to potential buyers as you might think. Mentioning that the home is "located close to stores," for example, may give some the false impression that the area is overly populated or too congested.

Examples of Effective Print Ads

To get a better idea of how to write an effective ad, it is helpful to look at a few examples.

$135,900, KNOX, affordable financing available by owner, large 4 bedroom home, deck, two-car garage. Call 555-1234 or view online at xxxxxx.

$290,900, MICHIGAN CITY, 3 bedroom lakefront home for sale by owner, newly remodeled kitchen, boat slip. Call 555-1234 or view online at xxxxx.

These ads provide the essential information as well as a few extras to help grab the attention of potential buyers while also providing them with a means to contact you and obtain more information. With these ads, you are likely to get many potential buyers calling to set up an appointment to view the property.

Writing Internet Ads

When writing an Internet ad, you typically have far more flexibility. Some real estate websites allow free-form text, which means you can place all of the details of your home in one or two paragraphs. Others are data-driven, which means all of the features of your home are categorized and labeled. The type of site you use will determine how your ad is structured.

With a free-flow website, such as Craigslist, you still need to place all of the most important information first. In this way, your ad will be very similar to the ad that you would write for a print publication. Placing the most important information first allows the buyer to quickly scan through listings and determine which ones to explore further. After listing the most important information, you can then write a second paragraph that provides more details about your home. Consider including the same type of information that you included on your highlight sheet and use bullets to help make the ad easier to read.

If the site is more organized and data-driven like ByOwner.com, potential buyers will be able to easily sort through listings by selecting the specific features they want. Since all of the key data is already presented in an easy-to-read format within your listing, you do not need to include this in your written description. Rather, use your description space to highlight the additional features that are likely to appeal to an interested buyer. For example, your written description may include information about a recent remodeling project, details about the neighborhood or information about the extra amenities and features that make your house stand out from others in the area.