Field Guide to Creating Effective Classified Advertisements

(Updated August 2014)

National Association of REALTORS® research shows that 23% of buyers used print newspaper advertisements to find information on homes for sale in last year. However, only 1% of buyers found the house they purchased using print ads (Source: NAR 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers). These rates have been declining: in 2008, 47% of buyers consulted print ads in their home searches, and 3% found the house they purchased through a print add. Whether you want to create successful classified ads—because many brokerages still use them—or you’d rather start advertising online, this field guide provides tips and considerations. (H. Hester, Information & Digitization Specialist)

E - EBSCO articles available for NAR members only. Password can be found on the EBSCO Access Information page.

Information Sources in Home Search

Information Source All Buyers
Online website 89%
Real estate agent 89%
Yard sign 51%
Open house 45%
Mobile or tablet website or application 45%
Mobile or tablet search engine 42%
Online video site 42%
Print newspaper advertisement 23%
Home builder 17%
Home book or magazine 15%
Billboard 5%
Television 4%
Relocation company 3%

Source: National Association of REALTORS® 2014 Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers

Advertising Basics

Crafting clean, easily scanned real estate copy for international property buyers, (Inman News, Jan. 27, 2014).

4 tips for writing powerful real estate copy, (Inman News, July 23, 2012).

10 Tips for Writing Effective Real Estate Copy, (The Member’s Edge, National Association of REALTORS®, Sept. 4, 2012).

Write Ads That Sell, (REALTOR® Magazine Online, April 2012). Part 2 in a 10-part series on writing great real estate ads from REALTOR® Magazine. Scroll to the bottom of the article to view additional articles in this series.

Write a Great Home Description, (Simply Homes, June 9, 2011).

Dos and Dont's of Great Classified Ads, (REALTOR® Magazine Online, Apr. 2007).

How Do I Get My Home on the MLS?, (

Writing Ads: Legal Concerns

Part 109 - Fair Housing Advertising, (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development).

4 Ways to Avoid Discrimination in Your Ads, (REALTOR® Magazine Online).

Advertising Basics for Real Estate Agents, (, 2011).

How Fair Housing Laws Affect Marketing, (, 2010-2011).


Download the Equal Housing Opportunity logo


How Releva​nt are Classified Ads?

Internet house hunting, (The Durango Herald, July 12, 2014).

Real estate returns home to big-event marketing: Coldwell Banker sponsors award shows, Century 21 in Super Bowl as category improves, (Advertising Age, Feb. 4, 2013). E

Real Estate Print Advertising is Dead, (Chicago Now, Mar. 16, 2010).

Real Estate Print Advertising – Not Dead, but Evolved (Harmon Enterprises, Mar. 10, 2010).

Is Print Finally Dead? Read All About It! (RealBlogging, Mar. 8, 2010).

Books, eBooks & Other Resources

The following eBooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:

101 Ways to Advertise Your Business (Adobe eReader)

Advertising 2.0 (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

Advertising and the Mind of the Consumer: What Works, What Doesn't, and Why (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

Always On: Advertising, Marketing, and Media in an Era of Consumer Control (Adobe eReader)

Do-It-Yourself Advertising and Promotion: How to Produce Great Ads, Brochures, Catalogs, Direct Mail, Websites and More! (Adobe eReader)

Facebook Marketing for Dummies (Adobe eReader)

Marketing to Millennials (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

No B.S. Direct Marketing (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

The Do-It-Yourself Lobotomy: Open Your Mind to Greater Creative Thinking (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

Books, Videos, Research Reports & More

The resources below are available for loan through Information Services. Up to three books, tapes, CDs and/or DVDs can be borrowed for 30 days from the Library for a nominal fee of $10. Call Information Services at 800-874-6500 for assistance.

5 minutes to a great real estate ad, (Chicago, IL: Thomson South-Western, 2006). HF 6161.R3 M45

Marketing Residential Properties: The Science and the Magic, (Chicago, IL: IREM, 2008). HF 5415 H22m

Real Estate Advertising Made Easy, (Ontario, Canada: Sheldon Griffon Graphics Inc., 2005). HF 6161.R3 R15

Field Guides & More

These field guides and other resources in the Virtual Library may also be of interest:

Field Guide to Effective Online Marketing

Field Guide to Fair Housing

Field Guide to Marketing Tips for REALTORS®

Information Services Blog

Have an Idea for a New Field Guide?

Click here to send us your suggestions.

The inclusion of links on this field guide does not imply endorsement by the National Association of REALTORS®. NAR makes no representations about whether the content of any external sites which may be linked in this field guide complies with state or federal laws or regulations or with applicable NAR policies. These links are provided for your convenience only and you rely on them at your own risk.

Notice: The information on this page may not be current. The archive is a collection of content previously published on one or more NAR web properties. Archive pages are not updated and may no longer be accurate. Users must independently verify the accuracy and currency of the information found here. The National Association of REALTORS® disclaims all liability for any loss or injury resulting from the use of the information or data found on this page.