Listings Project is a community where we offer free, carefully vetted real estate, job, and services offered listings weekly.
Post a Listing    Get the List

Real Estate

How to Write a Compelling and Inclusive Listing

By Emma McAleavy
October 1, 2020

Note from Stephanie:

We often get questions about how to write a great listing, so we’re excited to share some ideas and wisdom with you. Whether you are brand new to Listings Project or you are a seasoned long-time lister, we hope that this advice will help you find the right person to share your space with

~ Stephanie

Writing a standout headline

A strong headline grabs your attention and gives you enough information to know if a space might be right for you.

We recommend picking something unique about your space to highlight, while also being transparent about important information people should know. For example, take the headline: “Cozy Furnished Bedroom in Heart of Crown Heights 2BR (Utilities Included).” This headline gives you a real sense of what you’ll find in the listing.


Photo by Nick Le Messurier

But don’t be afraid to be creative, quirky and candid with your headlines, too. This can be a great place to share your personality and the personality of your space.

The trick is finding a happy medium; you want to make it detailed enough that it really conveys what it is you're offering, but you don’t want to get so long and wordy that you lose your potential tenant before they’ve even read your listing.


Photo by Joseph Montgomery

Describing your space 

The more details you include in your description, the easier it will be to find your ideal tenant, roommate or studio mate. We often ask Listers to add to their listings if they are too short.

Some basic information you’ll want to make sure you answer in your description include: 

  • What is the layout of the space? How many bedrooms and bathrooms? 

  • Are utilities included in the rent? 

  • Are pets allowed?

  • Are there any amenities or special features?

  • Is it furnished?

  • Are their hardwood floors, a backyard, skylights? 

  • What is the neighborhood like? Are there grocery stores or cafes nearby? Is it near transportation? 

If your space is ADA compliant or accessible to someone with a physical disability, be sure to mention that in your description.


Also, keep in mind that we ask Listers to refrain from using the word “safe” in their listings when describing a neighborhood, dwelling, or space as it has a history of being used in a coded and discriminatory way in the real estate industry.

You can also go beyond the physical features of the space and its surroundings. For example, if the landlords live upstairs and are helpful and warm, let Listers know! If there is a strong community among the people who live in your building, that would be worth mentioning too.

Finally, it helps to convey something of your personal experience with your space. What do you love about your home? Are you a DIY-er who has done renovations in your space? What does home mean to you? Sharing information about yourself and space can help potential Listers form connections and reply to your listing.


Photo by Holly Andres

About you  

The “About You” section is an opportunity to give Listers a sense of your personality, passions, and causes. You can share how you like to use your space and how you spend your time outside of the space.

Whatever your relationship is to the space, make sure that it is clear to Listers. Are you a tenant looking for roommates? A landlord looking for new tenants? Keep in mind that we don’t allow third parties to facilitate real estate transactions on our site, so you should have a direct relationship with the space if you are posting a listing with us.

We find that the most effective listings share personal and thoughtful narratives about the Lister. Giving Listers a sense of who you are can help in building connections and giving a sense of camaraderie, making interested parties more inclined to reply to your listing.


If you are looking for a roommate or studio mate, we encourage you to put some thought into who you’d like to share the space with. If you have strong preferences about tidiness, routines, having guests over, or how shared space is used, it’s always helpful to state these in your listing. In certain jurisdictions, having personal preferences for people with similar backgrounds may not be an affirmative act of discrimination; if you’d like to share the space with people you identify with such as LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC Listers, you can note this in your listing while being thoughtful and respectful of the entire Listings Project community.

Some of our Listers use the “About You” space to mention their preferred gender pronouns as well.


Photo by Gabriela Villa Ruiz

Rental Requirements

Each Real Estate listing for rentals or sublets has a “Rental Requirements” section, where you can drill down into the details of what you’d need from someone who wants to rent your space.

Be transparent and note of the following:

Although background checks are a common requirement in the real estate industry, we ask listers to reconsider using them. Vetting tenants based on their arrest and conviction records may lead to discrimination and the perpetuation of systemic racism and bias. If a background check is required, we ask that you apply the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s background check guidelines.

You can also use the “Rental Requirements” space to let Listers know when you are available to show the space and what your timeline is for finding a new tenant.


Photo by Michael D'Anvers

Taking pictures of your space 

The importance of pictures of your space cannot be overstated. No matter how strong your descriptions are, if your pictures are blurry, confusing, or taken in poor lighting, it will be hard for Listers to imagine themselves in your space.

We encourage Listers to upload as many as 10 photos with a wide variety of angles and perspectives for each room.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Photograph your space during the day in natural light

  • Make sure your pictures are current

  • DO NOT use third-party pictures in your listing

We don’t allow third-party images, such as photos from your building’s website, former brokerage photos, etc. We encourage our Listers to use their own photos in their listing, since this can make such a difference in adding personality and authenticity to your listing.

Don’t worry too much about deep cleaning your space before you photograph it. At Listings Project, we love to see photos that show the real use of the space. “I love seeing your pets or the amazing way you stack all your canned goods in your tiny kitchen, or your reflection in the mirror,” Founder/CEO Stephanie Diamond says. “It’s wonderful to see the humanness in these images and listings. It’s what makes Listings Project special.”

However you choose to showcase your space through images, don’t be afraid to share your personality and idiosyncrasies.

Lastly: don’t forget to let us know if you are comfortable with us sharing your pictures on our Instagram account! We love to showcase some of our favorite listings and spaces!

Emma McAleavy was Listings Project's Content Editor. During her tenure at Listings Project she brought the stories of our community to life on our blog and in our monthly newsletter. Emma’s writing has also appeared in The New York Times, Outside Magazine, and Architectural Digest. You can follow her on twitter @emmamcaleavy.

Related Articles

Real Estate Healthy Moving
Nicole Daniels | June 2, 2023
Real Estate Everything You Need to Know About Security Deposits
Nicole Daniels | March 29, 2023
Real Estate Pet-Friendly: A Guide for Landlords and Tenants
Nicole Daniels | February 23, 2023
Browse Listings Post a Listing Join / Sign In