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19 Tips for Better Real Estate Property Ads and Flyers

Quick 101 refresher

Take a page from advertising expert David Ogilvy to create an ad layout formula to maximize the effectiveness of your ads and flyers.

According to research, readers view – in order – the following elements. 

  1. Visual  ad layout
  2. Caption
  3. Headline
  4. Copy
  5. Contact information

Of course, this isn’t the only way to layout an ad.  But, if you’re struggling, this might offer a template from which to work.

19 tips to keep in mind

Ad Layout

  1. People look one quarter of the way down first.  This is the best spot for any attention grabbing content.
  2. Place the picture(s) in the top quarter or half of the page, above the headline.
  3. If you need a multi-page “brochure” as used in luxury listings, include the strongest benefit on the cover, not just your logo and a non-property picture.
  4. Maintain layout consistency. Don’t continually change the layout of your ads.
  5. Pictures can increase the response of an ad by ~ 50%.
  6. The use of graphs, charts and diagrams in your ads will assist in selling if they demonstrate real benefits.
  7. For a single column of text, justify text to the left, so the right edges are jagged.   
  8. If you must justify text (as in magazines) it’s best used for narrow columns of text.

Type Face

  1. A Serif typeface (i.e. Times New Roman) can be read more easily.
  2. A Sans Serif typeface (I.e. Arial) lends itself to a strong clean cut appearance, suitable for short amounts of content (plus it probably matches your web site).
  3. For the average target a 10 point type is about right for the main text in an advertisement.
  4. If you target an older target base, consider using 12 point type.
  5. Avoid over-crowing content.  Leave space between phrases and sentences.

Emphatic Elements

  1. Use only 1 emphatic treatment!  Do not bold, italicize AND underline phone.
  2. Bold is the best emphasis.
  3. Italicize only brief amounts of text, such as a quote or tag line.
  4. Underlining is difficult to read if used on more than one or two words.  Use bold instead.
  5. If you must use all capital letters (as in a headline), do so sparingly, as they are difficult to read.
  6. Don’t use more than two levels of headings (headline + sub headline).   More than that confuses the reader.

Most important tip ever!

Proofread!  Backwards (from the last word on the page to the first).  Word.  By.  Word.  Three times. 

Then, have someone else proofread.  Failing to do this could get you a spotlight in one of Gwen Banta’s posts. It may not be quite as hilarious if it’s your faux pas!

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Written By

Brandie is an unapologetically candid marketing professional who was recently mentioned on BusinessWeek as a Top Young Female Entrepreneur. She recently co-founded consulting firm MarketingTBD. She's held senior level positions with GE and Fidelity, as well as with entrepreneurial start-ups. Raised by a real estate Broker, Brandie is passionate about real estate and is an avid investor. Follow her on Twitter.



  1. Tim Cahill

    November 12, 2009 at 10:20 am

    This is an awesome post! I particularly am happy to see a huge emphasis on proofreading and it’s the first time I’ve actually heard someone else mention proofreading backwards. I thought everyone did that but I’ve found it’s rarely done.
    Thanks Brandie!

  2. Lesley Lambert

    November 12, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Great reminders of the important tips for marketing, thank you!

  3. Brandie Young

    November 12, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Thanks, Tim! I thought proofreading backwards was pretty standard …

  4. Magog Real Estate Agent

    November 13, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    “Avoid over-crowing content.” (I think you meant “crowding” – missing a “d”)

    I totally agree, in design terms that is sometimes referred to as “negative space”. Some people insist on filling every available inch of the layout, and they are doing themselves a huge disservice. A little breathing room really allows you to draw a reader’s attention to the highlights of your real estate listing you want them to notice.

  5. Brandie Young

    November 13, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Hey Magog …
    Ha ha! Clearly I didn’t follow my own advice! yes, i was not refering to adding too many tiaras/crowns (though can there really be too many?) Thanks for chiming in! Great input.

  6. Alexis Jameson

    November 14, 2009 at 4:05 am

    thank you for the great ideas…
    I will be adding some of them to my campaign.

  7. John Campbell

    November 15, 2009 at 2:05 am

    Thanks for the 101. I knew bits and pieces of this info but never had it put so concisely with great organization.

  8. Matthew Rathbun

    November 15, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Great Tips! Thanks for sharing this, my students will love it.

  9. MIssy Caulk

    November 16, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    Well, I never heard of proof reading backwards….so thanks…makes sense.

  10. Alexis Jameson

    November 20, 2009 at 2:34 am

    Good post and commentary. I think Realtors internet marketing is great but people
    are getting way to caught up with it and think that if you
    are great at blogging and marketing…the $$ just rolls in

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