Creating and Placing High-impact Advertisements – Part 2: Writing High-impact Advertising Copy

The body of the ad, called ad copy, is the descriptive part of the ad. When preparing copy remember these essential points:

  • Let readers imagine what it would be like to live in the home. For example, instead of factually stating that a home has a patio and large back yard, say that the large back yard includes a spacious patio designed for perfect summer evenings, or suggest that owners can “BBQ on the spacious patio while you watch the kids play in the enormous back yard.”

    Obviously in newspaper ads, where you’re paying by the word or inch, you need to limit your words. Still you can pick one powerful feature to describe in terms that evoke a compelling owner experience.

  • Emphasize benefits versus features. A large kitchen, a spacious back yard, a three-card garage, air conditioning. Each of these is a description of a home’s features. Not one tells buyers what’s in it for them. Not one conveys a benefit that the buyer gets from the feature. Yet these are the terms that fill most real estate marketing communications. Add impact to your ads by converting features to benefits following these examples:
    • Instead of simply announcing the feature of a three-car garage, advertise a three-bay garage with abundant storage space that makes a rental storage unit (with the accompanying $750 annual fee) a thing of the past while providing a workshop where the owner can fix kids’ bikes and perfect shop skills.
    • Translate the feature of air conditioning into the benefits of comfort, coolness, and the restful feeling that results from a good night’s sleep in an air-conditioned home.
  • Call for action – now! What distinguishes great marketers from good marketers is the ability to build a sense of urgency and to prompt prospects to take immediate action. Every time you create an ad, give readers a reason to take action and instructions on how to take the next step.

    You can describe the exclusive nature of a property and convey that this type of one-of-kind home comes onto the market rarely and moves quickly, so call today for an appointment.

    You can use low inventory levels, or rising interest rates, to urge quick action and phone calls.

    Even a simple closing line that reads, “Don’t delay, call right away” will spur more action than an ad that ends without a similar instruction.

Staying Legal


When marketing properties, agents can run aground by using terms or descriptive language that runs counter to Federal Fair Housing Laws that govern the sale or rental of properties to individuals. These laws fall under the jurisdiction of HUD, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is very serious about the ethical and honest treatment of all people.

Federal Fair Housing Law basics

It’s illegal to discriminate in housing because of race or color, national origin, religion, sex, family status, or handicap. It’s illegal for real estate agents, as service providers, to discriminate just as it’s illegal for real estate clients, as sellers, to discriminate. If you think that a seller is discriminating, run, don’t walk, away. There are penalties and fines for discrimination.

Advice to follow

The fair housing anti-discrimination stance applies to all public communications, especially advertising. All text on your Web site, in newspaper and magazine ads, on flyers, or in other printed materials must adhere to HUD guidelines.


Here are a few words used in every-day conversations and normal real estate jargon that can’t be used in print advertising: Able-bodied, adult community, adult living, bachelor pad, churches nearby, couple, couples only, empty nesters, any ethnic references, families no, newlyweds, traditional neighborhood. The moment these terms appear in printed marketing materials the ad is in violation of federal law.

Real Estate Marketing Tip:

Ask your broker or your newspaper-advertising representative for a list of the prohibited words. When in doubt, the safest advice is to restrict ad copy to a description of the property for sale while steering far clear of any descriptions of the type of person or people that you or the sellers think would be good buyers or occupants.

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