Real Estate Facebook Ads: The Ultimate Guide

If you’re in the real estate business, regardless if you’re a realtor, a new home builder, a developer, a vacation rental property manager, or anything else, you should be investing in Facebook Ads. Advertising on Facebook is a necessity for anyone serious about real estate. There is an overwhelming amount of opportunity available by promoting your properties and communities on Facebook, as long as you know the right way to do it.

Not all Facebook campaigns are created equal. And real estate is competitive. So we built out The Ultimate Guide to Real Estate Ads on Facebook so you can capitalize on this opportunity and crush it with your Facebook Ads.

You’re going to get everything you need to build out the most robust and effective ads on Facebook for your real estate business. In this article, you’re going to see each step broken down so you can literally start from scratch and build these campaigns for yourself. To do this the right way, there are a number of steps to take, and they are all very important in order to get the most out of your Facebook ad campaigns.

Ready to get started?

Real Estate Ads That Actually Convert

When setting up a Facebook campaign, the first step is to select your objective. A big mistake a lot of people make is choosing the wrong objective.

A lot of times people think they want website traffic. The problem with this objective is that the traffic you get is typically not the greatest quality. You end up seeing high bounce rates and low volume of conversions. This can be a burn on your pocket book.

Alternatively, many will then try to generate leads using the Leads objective. This is where Facebook users fill out a form directly on Facebook without even visiting your website. The problem with these ad styles is the poor quality leads. You get a lot of tire kickers. You try calling and emailing these leads back and you just get ghosted. Another waste of time and money.

Pro Tip: Use the Conversion ads objective to drive better quality traffic and get the best results.

Conversion Ads are telling Facebook that your goal is to get conversions instead of just website traffic. The Conversions ads will be slightly more expensive, but you’re going to get a lot better quality people visiting your site, and this results in you getting more quality leads from your website. We’ve run a lot of testing and can tell you that Conversion Ads outperform regular Traffic Ads and Lead Generation ads by a long shot in getting you to sell more homes.

In order to run Conversion ads, we need to make sure that you are tracking conversion events on your site. An event is when a user has interacted with your website in some way. When someone takes a conversion action, we want to tell Facebook about that event. By telling Facebook when these events are occurring, it allows the Facebook algorithm to optimize their ad delivery to people that are more likely to visit your website and take those actions.

Examples of valuable events to track:

  • Form Submissions
    • If a user fills out a form, that is obviously extremely valuable. It definitely shows that the user is interested and it gives you a lead to work with.
  • Phone Number Clicks
    • When people click on your phone number, they are initiating a phone call. Inbound phone calls are good for you and should be tracked.
  • PDF Downloads
    • If the user downloads a home plan or community map, that’s valuable because these users are far more likely to be interested in your real estate in comparison to those who do not click the download buttons.
  • Address Clicks
    • This is people clicking on an address to get directions to the property/community. Getting directions is valuable because this shows they are seeing where this is located and might even turn into them driving over to the home/community.

 

It’s extra work to do this event tracking, but it’s absolutely key in getting the best possible results from your real estate Facebook Ads.

How To Set Up Event Tracking for Facebook Ads

Install Google Tag Manager

First, you’ll want to install Google Tag Manager on your real estate website. This tool is free, and it’s extremely powerful in helping you manage code snippets and event tracking on your site.

Here is the link to Google Tag Manager.

Sign in to your Google account. Once you’re at the home screen, hit the “Create Account” in the top right corner.

Enter the name of your website in both text fields, select the “Web” platform, and hit the blue “Create” button.

Next, you’re going to receive some code snippets that need to be installed on your website. Follow the instructions to insert the code onto your website. If you need help, just send this to your web developer and they can easily do this for you. It only takes a minute to copy and paste into the site.

Once that is complete, you now have Google Tag Manager installed on your site.

Install Your Facebook Pixel

If you don’t already have a Facebook Pixel on your website, you’ll want to get this added. You can find your existing Facebook Pixel, or create a new one, by going to this link. Be sure to copy and save the Pixel ID as we will need this next.

After you have your Facebook Pixel ID, you can insert this as a “Tag” in Google Tag Manager. Click on “Tags” on the left menu in Tag Manager, then click “New” in the upper right corner.

Name the tag something easy to recognize, like “Facebook Pixel”. For the Tag Configuration, you’re going to want to use the “Custom HTML” tag. Use the following code snippet, but make sure to replace the “XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX” in both places with your own Facebook Pixel ID that you saved in the previous step.

				
					<!-- Facebook Pixel Code -->
<script data-rocketlazyloadscript='data:text/javascript;base64,CiAgIWZ1bmN0aW9uKGYsYixlLHYsbix0LHMpCiAge2lmKGYuZmJxKXJldHVybjtuPWYuZmJxPWZ1bmN0aW9uKCl7bi5jYWxsTWV0aG9kPwogIG4uY2FsbE1ldGhvZC5hcHBseShuLGFyZ3VtZW50cyk6bi5xdWV1ZS5wdXNoKGFyZ3VtZW50cyl9OwogIGlmKCFmLl9mYnEpZi5fZmJxPW47bi5wdXNoPW47bi5sb2FkZWQ9ITA7bi52ZXJzaW9uPScyLjAnOwogIG4ucXVldWU9W107dD1iLmNyZWF0ZUVsZW1lbnQoZSk7dC5hc3luYz0hMDsKICB0LnNyYz12O3M9Yi5nZXRFbGVtZW50c0J5VGFnTmFtZShlKVswXTsKICBzLnBhcmVudE5vZGUuaW5zZXJ0QmVmb3JlKHQscyl9KHdpbmRvdywgZG9jdW1lbnQsJ3NjcmlwdCcsCiAgJ2h0dHBzOi8vY29ubmVjdC5mYWNlYm9vay5uZXQvZW5fVVMvZmJldmVudHMuanMnKTsKICBmYnEoJ2luaXQnLCAnWFhYWFhYWFhYWFhYWFhYJyk7CiAgZmJxKCd0cmFjaycsICdQYWdlVmlldycpOwo=' ></script>
<noscript><img height="1" width="1" style="display:none"
  src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX&ev=PageView&noscript=1"
/></noscript>
<!-- End Facebook Pixel Code -->
				
			

For the “Triggering” section, you’ll want to use “All Pages” to make sure it fires the Facebook Pixel on every page on your website.

Save this tag, as this part is all set to go.

Setup Conversion Event Triggers

Next, you’re going to want to set up the triggers for each event you want to track. So you’ll go ahead and click on the “Triggers” option in the left-hand menu and hit “New in the upper right.

This is where you can define the clicks on your website that you want to track. This could be anything that you want, really. But usually, this is going to be a “Link Click”, and then you can select which link clicks by defining the “Click URL” that you want to track. Here are some examples based on what we discussed above:

  • Phone Number Clicks
Make sure that the phone numbers on your website are clickable and initiate a phone call. This is especially useful for people on mobile devices.
  • PDF Downloads
Any link where someone is downloading a PDF document. These will all end in “.pdf” in the URL.
  • Get Directions
Any addresses on your website should link to the Google Map of that location. All of those URL’s will contain “maps” in the URL. 
  • Form Submissions

This one is a little tricker as it’s not a link and is unique for every website depending on how it was built. Instead, you’ll want to find the “Class” that is used on the button on your website. Go to your website, find the form submit button, right click on it and hit “Inspect”. In the code, you’ll find a “Class” for that button. Copy that class and use that as your trigger.

For the “Trigger Type”, instead of using “Link Click”, you can use “All Elements” and then use the “Click Classes” to filter by the “CSS Class” your form submit button uses.

These are all just examples, but you can use these triggers to track any event you’d like on your website.

Setup The Facebook Custom Conversion Event

Once you’ve set up all the events you want to track, it’s now time to set up the code that fires those events back to Facebook. Go back to the “Tags” section and click “New” again.

You’re going to use the “Custom HTML” tag again, and this time use the following code:

				
					<script data-rocketlazyloadscript='data:text/javascript;base64,CiAgZmJxKCd0cmFja0N1c3RvbScsJ1dlYnNpdGUgQ29udmVyc2lvbicpOwo=' ></script>
				
			

This is the code that fires off an event over to Facebook to tell Facebook when someone took an action on your website. Now we just need to tell it when to fire this code. For the triggering, you’ll want to select all the events you set up that you want to track. You can add as many as you’d like.

Save your changes, and publish your container. This will push all the code to your website and start tracking the events tracking place and pushing them into Facebook.

You’ll want to test to make sure it’s working properly. During your test, know that there is a delay from when an event is triggered on your website to when it actually shows up in your dashboard on Facebook.

To test everything, first go to your website and click on some of the conversion actions. Fill out a form, click your phone number, download a PDF, etc. This will trigger some events to fire into Facebook.

Then you might have to wait a bit. I usually come back in an hour or so. Go to your Events Manager on Facebook. There, you should see your new event showing up on your Pixel. Once it’s showing up, you know events are being fired into Facebook.

Next, click on the “Custom Conversions” option in the left menu. Click on the blue “Create Custom Conversion” button. Name your custom conversion event, select the right Facebook Pixel for your data source, and select your new event that you set up in Google Tag Manager. Then hit the blue “Create” button.

A lot of steps there, but it was worth it, because now you are tracking all the custom conversion events on your website, and your real estate ads are going to be a lot better because of it.

Setting Up Real Estate Facebook Ad Campaigns

Here comes the fun part: actually setting up the campaigns. First get into your Facebook Ad Manager. Click on the green “Create” button. For your ad objective, select “Conversions”.

At the campaign level, you’re going to have to toggle on the option stating this is a Special Ad Category. Then select “Housing” from the dropdown list.

Scrolling down, turn on the “Campaign Budget Optimization” option. This allows Facebook to determine how to spend your budget across the different audiences. Giving Facebook this control helps them pick and choose when to spend within each audience and optimize ad delivery for those most likely to complete your conversion actions that we had setup earlier. Enter in the daily budget you want to spend on Facebook.

I like to set up a second campaign for Remarketing. This will be used for targeting people who have already engaged with you. Repeat the steps above because the process is exactly the same to set up the Remarketing campaign. For your budget, I usually would recommend somewhere between 5% – 10% of what you’re spending on the primary Conversion campaign. So if you entered $100 per day on the first campaign, maybe do something like $10 per day on the Remarketing campaign.

Real Estate Facebook Ads Audience Targeting

Facebook’s targeting is by far one of the most powerful available in all the advertising platforms out there. However, things are a little different nowadays when it comes to Real Estate ads specifically.

After a series of data privacy issues, Facebook has pulled back on ad targeting options for Special Ad Categories. Because of the Fair Housing Act, “Housing” is included as a Special Ad Category, meaning that not all targeting options are available when running Facebook Ads for real estate.

This does not mean real estate Facebook Ads are not effective, we just have to be creative in how we use the targeting options that are available.

To set up a new Audience to target, click into your campaign and then hit the green “Create” button to create a new Ad Set. You’ll want to make sure you select the Custom Conversion event that you had setup prior. This tells Facebook to optimize for this event.

Next, scroll down to the location settings. Setup a radius around your primary market. You can click the “Drop Pin” option to place your pin on the map and change the size of the radius. Consider where your home buyers are typically coming from and make sure your radius is wide enough to cover that. You can set up multiple radiuses if needed.

You won’t have access to change the age range because it’s in the Special Housing Category. So next you’ll want to scroll down to the Detailed Targeting. This is where you can select interest groups to try and target people that are on the market for real estate.

It’s recommended to set up different Ad Sets for each group of interest that you want to target. That way you are grouping similar interests together and you can test which group of interests will perform best for you. Here are some interest targeting groupings that typically perform really well for real estate ads.

  • General Real Estate Interest
This audience is a generic real estate interest group, targeting broad housing style interests.
  • Mortgages

This audience is targeting those showing interest in mortgages. Maybe they’ve been researching mortgage rates, using a mortgage calculator, etc.

  • Property Finders

This audience is targeting people who have been using property finding tools recently. Maybe they’ve been on Zillow, Trulia, or another directory site that lists real estate for sale.

  • Nested Real Estate Interest

This is where you take several audiences and you nest them into groups by using the “Narrow” button. This way it will only show your ads to users who check at least one box from each grouping. This narrows it down to a very finite audience.

  • Website Visitor Lookalike

This is an audience that tells Facebook to go find more people who have similar attributes to those that are already visiting your website. To set up a Lookalike audience, you’ll need to open your Audience Manager at this link. Click the blue “Create Audience” button in the upper left and then click on the Custom Audience option. Select the “Website” as your data source and click next.

Select your Facebook Pixel as the source. Select “All website visitors” as your event. Set your retention to 60 days (or whatever you prefer). Give the audience a name. Then click on the “Create Audience button.

Next, click on the “Create Audience” button again, but this time select the “Special Ad Audience” option. This is the lookalike audience option for those running ads in the Special Ad category.

Select the source of the lookalike audience, which is the previous custom audience you just set up a moment ago. You can play with different audience size percentages, but usually around 2% is a good place to start. Then hit “Create Audience”.

Back to your Ad Set in your Ads Manager, you’ll now be able to select this Special Ad Audience within your “Custom Audience” section. You can leave your detailed targeting section blank and just let Facebook go out and find people that have similar attributes to those already converting.

  • Conversion Lookalike

This is the same concept as Website Visitor Lookalike, but instead of using all website visitors, we’ll use just those that are converting. This is a more refined audience. Go back to your Audience Manager. Click the blue “Create Audience” button again and select the “Website” as your data source and click next.

This time, select “Website Conversion” as your event (or whatever you labeled it originally). Set the retention to 180 days (the max). Name the audience and hit create.

The rest of the steps are exactly the same as the Website Visitor Lookalike audience. Create the Special Ad Lookalike Audience, and then add it to your Ad Set within your campaign.

 

If we flip over and look at your Remarketing campaign, we can run ads at people who have already engaged with you once. This is low-hanging fruit. Remarketing is how you create repeat visitors and try to get people back to your website and engage with you again. As you know, there is a buyer journey for home buying, so getting them back to your website multiple times is extremely valuable.

Here are some great audiences to try out for remarketing:

  • Remarketing Website Visitors

This is the same concept as Website Visitor Lookalike, but instead of using all website visitors, we’ll use just those that are converting. This is a more refined audience. Go back to your Audience Manager. Click the blue “Create Audience” button again and select the “Website” as your data source and click next.

This time, select “Website Conversion” as your event (or whatever you labeled it originally). Set the retention to 180 days (the max). Name the audience and hit create.

  • Remarketing Social Engagers

This is for anyone that has engaged with you at all on social media. Maybe they liked a picture of a home, made a comment on a listing, shared something with a family member, or more. Remarketing to these people can also be low-hanging fruit because they’ve already engaged with you once. It’s likely they’ll engage with you again.

Back in your Audience Manager, click on “Create Audience” again and use the “Custom Audience” option. This time, select “Facebook Page” as the data source.

Then select the “Everyone who engaged with your Professional Account” for the Events. I usually use 180 days for the Retention option, but you can do longer or shorter depending on your buyer’s journey.

You can also set up a second Social Engagement audience if you have an Instagram page. Follow the same steps except select “Instagram Account” as your data source.

Go back to your Ads Manager to set up your Ad Set. You’ll now see both of these options available to you in your Custom Audience selection area.

If you set up all of these different audiences, you’re off to a really great start. Not all audiences will perform great, but that’s why we set up many different ones so you can learn which ones will perform best. If you see one audience is performing a lot better than another, you can turn off the poor performers.

For all of your Ad Sets, it’s recommended to use the “Automatic Placement” option. This gives Facebook the reigns to decide the best placements for your ads to drive the most conversions. The algorithm is much better at selecting the optimal placements to get people to click than we are.

Real Estate Facebook Ad Creative

Now that you have your audiences and targeting created, the next step is the visuals that you use in your real estate ads. The images and videos that you use in your ads are how you get users to stop scrolling. You want to “wow” them with the visual, so it’s got to stand out.

Within Facebook, there are many different ad styles you can use. Play with the different options to mix and match your photo and video content into something that grabs users’ attention as they scroll. 

  • Home/community carousel
  • Virtual tour video
  • Split screen
  • Text Overlay
  • Video Slideshow

 

Typically ad formats with multiple images perform the best. This is because home buyers want to get a better feeling of the quality of the home before clicking in. If they get 2+ images that show how great the property is, they’ll be more likely to engage with the ad and click over to your website.

It’s important that your visuals are high quality. Homebuyers use the photos as a representation of the quality of the home. It’s worth hiring a professional photographer to come in and get good photos of the home and the community. Make sure the photos have great lighting and are edited properly by a pro. 

Here are some great examples of how to use good visuals in your Facebook ads.

If you have virtual tours created for your home(s), you can turn them into videos fairly easily and insert these into your ads. The movement is eye-catching and is a unique way to grab a homebuyer’s attention.

If you’re selling a home that is unfurnished, invest in a virtual staging service. It’s inexpensive and makes photos of empty rooms look so much more appealing to a potential home buyer. Seeing a clean and furnished home triggers emotions as they envision themselves living there. 

Here are some examples virtual home staging:

BoxBrownie is a cost effective way to have your real estate photos virtually staged and make the home even more appealing to potential homebuyers.

Real Estate Facebook Ad Copy

The text of your ad is how you convince people to click. Inspire them and intrigue them about what your offer is. Give them details upfront so they know if this is something they’d like and would fit their lifestyle.

  • For a new or used home, give them the square footage, the bedroom and bathroom count, any special features, etc.
  • If you’re pitching a new home community, talk about all the amenities available, give the price range they should expect, any special features included in the homes that are unique, etc.
 

Use relevant emojis to grab their attention on specific details. Don’t go overboard with it though because it’ll look too spammy.

Include a strong call to action to give the user the next step:

  • “Browse New Homes”
  • “See More Homes”
  • “Schedule a Tour”
  • “See Virtual Tour”
  • “Build Your Dream Home”
  • “Find Your Dream Home”
  • “Tour This Home”

Launching Your Real Estate Facebook Ads

If you’ve made it this far, congrats! You’ve built out better Facebook campaigns than most marketing gurus have ever done.

  • Setup / installed your Facebook Pixel
  • Setup custom event tracking
  • Built conversion campaigns to optimize for your conversion events
  • Built out amazing audience targeting for home buyers
  • Created “scroll stopping” ad creative with top-notch copy and calls to action

 

Please take the honor of hitting publish on your campaigns and grabbing yourself a cup of well-deserved coffee. You’re going to need the energy with all these leads you’re going to be fielding.

Are Your Real Estate Ads Successful?

Now that your Facebook Ads are live, you’re going to want to give it some time to marinate.  At minimum, you’ll want to wait 7-10 days before getting too judgmental on your ads. There is a 7-day attribution window for Facebook Ads and it’s unlikely you’ll see heavy conversions on the first visit to your website.

Homebuyers have a lot of comparisons to make and big decisions to consider, so it takes them some time during this research phase to narrow things down and make decisions. Let the ads run for a while so you can gather some data and give these buyers a window to come back and convert.

When it’s time, you’ll be able to see the data right inside the Facebook Ad Manager for your conversions. All those conversion activities that we set up early on will be visible. You’ll see exactly which audiences and which ads are driving the most conversions. 

Click on the “Columns” button above the table of campaigns and toggle on the “Website Conversion” event we created earlier. I like to look at the total number of conversions as well as the “cost per conversion” metrics.

This will enable you to see the conversion events taking place from your ad campaigns. Some audiences and even specific ads are going to perform better than others. If you have poor-performing audiences, you can turn those off and test new ones. Ongoing A/B testing is going to be vital here so you can make continuous improvements to your campaigns over time.

Facebook Ads are a lot more intricate than most people think. It’s a lot more detailed than posting a few pictures and putting some ad dollars behind it. Taking these steps is how you actually get an ROI from your Facebook advertising efforts. You’ll actually use the algorithms and the targeting options to your advantage. 

Building out proper Facebook campaigns is just the beginning. Beyond driving in the traffic from Facebook, there are systems and processes behind the scenes that you should have in place to make sure you’re getting the absolute most out of your marketing efforts.

  • Do you have a CRM in place to track your homebuyer leads?
  • Do you have email automation set up to nurture your homebuyer leads through the funnel?
  • Do you have Google Ads set up to target those already looking for homes on Google?
  • Do you have retargeting display ads to keep your name and homes top of mind?
  • Are you pushing out resources and content to help your homebuyers?
  • What strategies are you implementing to climb the organic rankings on Google?

Some of this can get complicated and technical. If you’re feeling lost in the details, want some help getting through this, or not getting the results you want… we’re here for you.

Want help with your marketing?

Let’s connect and chat about your business goals.

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