Truth in Advertising

Rosy Sullivan

Real Estate advertising is an individual thing. Some agents do things completely different to others and get results, yet some agents basically do things identically every time and obtain a very different result. What this is simply telling us is basically the golden rule of real estate advertising:

The ad doesn’t sell the property, the agent does.

The main purpose of any ad is to generate buyer interest and simply gain buyer enquiry that induces buyers to inspect a property.

Accordingly, real estate advertising is not an exact science.  What works in one area may not work in another.  What works for one agent in one suburb may not work for another agent in the same suburb.  What we should always bear in mind is this:


  • tailor your advertising to your market place and to the audience   of the demographic market you are attempting to attract to the property

  • keep a track of the results of the ads

  • change what is not working and stick to what works.


That being said, let’s look at simple things that have worked for many highly successful agents in the past.

Some key elements that you should consider when preparing your ad, include:


  • ads must be kept simple, concise – use as few words as possible to get your message across

  • they must be designed to get prospective people to the property

  • don’t write too much information in the ad – it should simply tease and excite the interest of prospective purchasers or tenants

  • follow a structured pre-set layout

  • be a little creative – always consider your audience

  • a few flower words in the body of the text are fine – too many are not

  • be aware of your buyer demographic, use words and a style to suit them

  • use power words that sell

  • use positive words

  • sell the sizzle not the steak

  • the ad must pull at the emotional buying motives of a prospective purchaser

  • sell lifestyle features and benefits

  • do not be repetitive – only state something once

  • use bullet points

  • all copy and contents must be accurate

  • make sure there are no spelling mistakes


Now, all of this information is really quite simple and most of you have heard it all before - and there is so much more to advertising and the science of getting it right.

However, the most important aspect to remember about marketing in the real estate industry is the need for the advertising to be truthful and to contain no misleading or deceptive information. This means that every statement you make in an advertisement must be true.  Traditionally, the most troublesome issues in advertising were land size and view.  In the past week, I have had three phone calls from agents in relation to landlords or vendors questioning them about the advertising that they have done. One of these calls related to “potential” views from a vacant block of land and the other two related to the usage of commercial properties. All of these calls highlighted yet again, the importance of agents checking that their information is correct prior to making statements in advertising.

Be Truthful
Be aware of your obligations under the law.  Never make a statement that is not factual or correct.  All advertising material must not be false, misleading or deceptive, it must always be truthful and accurate.  The agent’s obligations are set by the Australian Consumer Law 2010 (replaced the Trade Practices Act), the Property Stock and Business Agents Act 2002, and all other laws governing Fair Trading, Consumer Protection, and advertising.  

If you doubt the accuracy or validity of any fact or feature, have it clarified by an expert. If you cannot, or if you are unsure of the facts, do not use the item.  Simply…….if you can’t prove it to be true – don’t put it in your ad.



Furthermore, the Supervision Guidelines issued by the Commissioner of Fair Trading are very clear about the need for accurate advertising and requires agents to include a checklist for all sales files, to ensure that advertising contains no misleading or deceptive information.

Very simply…….
With over 615,000 words in the English language and more than 5,000 new words added each year, we have an almost infinite choice of word combinations to get our message across.

Always believe in the story you are telling. You will find it difficult to convince others if you don’t first believe in what you are saying.

Good luck to all agents in your preparation of advertising this week.  Use your words wisely.


www.acop.edu.au