Best (and worst) real estate subject lines of 2017

I am willing to wager your inbox overflows with new emails every day.

I know mine does. Every morning I wake up to dozens of new messages waiting to be read. Some will be Facebook notifications, others will be airline advertisements, and a few will be actual messages from real people.

My first response is always the same; scan the subject line and determine if the email is valuable to me. If not, I swipe right and delete. If it is, I might read it immediately, or come back later when I have more time to wander. Either way, emails that don’t make the cut are lost forever.

I have no doubt I have trashed countless emails that would have engaged me if I opened them. These days, I simply don’t have the time to read every email, study every post, or speak with every telemarketer. So, I am forced to filter them.

For emails, this means subject lines. If an email doesn’t catch my attention within those few characters, it’s an immediate delete. That’s why subject lines are so important.

So, I did a little research. Actually, I sorted through tens of thousands of real estate emails from 2017 to uncover what makes a powerful (and weak) subject line. I found the emails with the best and worst open rates, then dissected each one to find the common elements. It surprised me to be honest.


Three common elements in the 100 best subject lines.


1. Update your audience: 26 of the top 100 emails focused on keeping their audience up to date with valuable information. Auction results, new listings, and price adjustments were most      common, and seem to be popular because they keep clients informed with timely, relevant details.

e.g. “Surprising Auction results: Hawthorne”

2. Exclusivity: 24 of the top 100 emails offered privileged information to their audience, such as off-market listings, or other unreleased offers. By rewarding their audience with exclusive opportunities, they increase the interest and engagement of their subscribers.

e.g. “Off-Market Opportunity: Stunning Bulimba home”

3. Specificity: 24 of the top 100 emails decided to use specific details to catch their readers interest. Sometimes this was property features, but often the subject line simply stated the listing status and the address. Unique details will always peak more interest than generic statements.

e.g. “The secret garden – 305 Oatfield Rd Manly”


Three common elements in the 100 worst subject lines.


1. Real estate buzz words: Of the 100 emails with the lowest open rates, 75 used unspecific statements full of real estate buzz words. Property update, E-News, Newsletter, and market wrap were common. These subject lines are weak because they offer no specific details and are indistinguishable from other real estate emails. Unless you have an extremely loyal fan base, you need to offer more than a generic newsletter to stand out.

e.g. “Robert’s Property Update E-News”

2. Generic offers: 23 of the 100 emails with the lowest open rates provided unclear offers that are unlikely to convince subscribers to open, such as “EOFY offer” or “super deals”. Instead of overused phrases, use specific details that will catch the attention of the portion of your audience that relates to it.

e.g. “Here is your local update”

3. Shouting: 8 of the 100 emails with the lowest open rates yelled at their audience, meaning they only used caps or finished their statement with a list of exclamation marks. Not only does this trigger spam warnings in many email systems, they feel spammy to the reader. Yelling has never been a good selling tactic in person, so we should probably stop trying it online.


With the new year approaching fast, I would look over my previous email’s subject lines and adjust them according to the elements of the top emails. It looks like people prefer specific, clear subject lines that offer timely information or exclusive offers. Try to avoid generic, real estate jargon that doesn’t include concrete details. And remember, stop yelling at your audience. It singles you out for all the wrong reasons, and lowers the likelihood of increasing your open rate.

Was this information helpful, or did you already know these insights? Either way, let me know, and tell me what subject line worked best for you this year. I look forward to hearing from you.

By | 2017-12-15T12:32:12+00:00 November 23rd, 2017|Uncategorized|17 Comments


  1. Boyd Cronin 7 December, 2017 at 11:54 am - Reply

    As a new home consultant for one of WA’s largest residential builders – I have created a list of RE Agents who send me vacant land list which I send to my data base of people looking for land , titled “Boyds Vacant Land Update”.. not anymore .
    Great info – thanks .

    • Stephan Trone 8 December, 2017 at 9:04 am - Reply

      Thanks Boyd! Really appreciate your feedback. Let me know if you have any questions.

  2. Pete Hammond 13 December, 2017 at 8:14 am - Reply

    Stephan, I found this really useful and will retain your email for future reference and reminder. Can you please definc “Ex.” in your blog above, I am assuming it is replacing eg.?

    • Stephan Trone 15 December, 2017 at 11:13 am - Reply

      Hi Pete,

      Thanks for the feedback. I really appreciate it. Yes, Ex. was replacing e.g., but I changed it back to just reduce confusion. Thanks for helping me fix it up.

  3. Harry Ranchhod 13 December, 2017 at 9:55 am - Reply

    Hi Stephan,

    Thanks for this , would appreciate the actual headlines to give us ideas on what works best.

    • Stephan Trone 15 December, 2017 at 11:11 am - Reply

      Hi Harry,

      Thanks for your comment. I chose not to include the actual subject lines for privacy reasons, but the examples I used come from the top 10 with only slight adjustments. Hopefully you still found it helpful. I will consider your recommendation in the future. Thanks!

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