Great Ad Headlines

The real estate listing is the cornerstone of real estate marketing. Thus, it pays to have great ad headlines, written so as to engage the reader and prompt them to further action. Ad writing is an industry unto itself, but by following a few fundamental ideas, you can get started with listing headlines that will grab their attention.

The fundamental components are fairly simple, but they are the building blocks of great ad headlines. As the National Association of REALTORS points out, each and every headline must contain one or more of the following:

  • A benefit, either stated or implied, for the reader
  • Something that is novel, topical, or engaging
  • A curiosity element—which is distinct from a gimmick

The example used by the National Association of REALTORS® is clear: “Announcing the all-new XYZ dishwasher, which saves you time and money!” This fictional headline includes all three of the above elements: a benefit for the reader (saves you time and money), something novel (all-new), and a curiosity element (Gee, I wonder how that works?). The ad gets and keeps the reader’s attention, and provokes further action—reading the rest of it to learn more.

Writing for Success

Now that we’ve covered the fundamentals, let’s look at some of the principles behind executing them. Again, they’re fairly simple, but powerful in their application.

  • Use big, engaging language. “Beautiful historic Victorian” sounds better than “19th century family home”—though both are equally accurate. Your headline should be beautiful and inspiring—paint a picture in the mind of the reader.
  • To that end, use positive language—always. This one gets a bit tricky. The property isn’t small; it’s cozy. It’s not old; it’s charming or historic. Keep the language positive and engaging, regardless of the issue at hand.
  • Don’t talk down to your customers. A tried and true principle of advertising, but alas easy to forget. Most people are smart. Write your ads headlines for them.
  • Follow a great headline with great copy. You’ve hooked them with the headline. Now reel them in with great copy that explains the benefits of living in this house. Give relevant information, in well written prose.

A lot goes into writing great ad headlines—and great listings—but the effort will pay off in the long run. By following these simple guidelines, and knowing your own market, you’ll be well on the road to success!


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