Real Estate Signs - Sell the Property Not Yourself

The ME Sign

Agent For Sale Sign

 I travel a lot, and when I drive around I'm always noticing real estate signs in front of homes for sale.  I especially pay attention to the high end properties where agents have special signs made,  Too often I see a large photo of the listing agent on the sign, and almost never do I see an interior photo or floor plan.  

I understand that franchises often mandate the main sign to be used, including format and colors.  However, I think that most would allow a second sign with more customization.  What I'd like to discuss in this step-by-step is what our primary goal is in placing that sign.  At least in my mind it is to sell that home.  Sure, I as a broker and my company or franchise also get some exposure, but almost always it is weighted in the wrong direction.

Let's step through this article with a plan to understand what we are doing, and then look at how we can do it better with the content of a larger and very customized sign.  First, I have never, EVER placed my photo on a for sale sign.  As I have always been an independent broker, I could do whatever I wanted with my signs, but I never saw my image as an aid in selling the home.  What I wanted to accomplish with my sign was to actually get the drive-by potential buyer to stop and spend a little time looking at it.

What is the Goal and How to Reach It

Home Sign Decisions


Sell The Home

Duh!  Of course this is the primary goal.  We were hired by the owner to get the job done.  It has become just a check box on a to-do list for many real estate professionals.  "Place the sign" is checked off when we stick the stakes into the ground.  If you are not allowed any custom signage due to brokerage or franchise rules, then this may be all you can do.  However, if you can do something else or additional, you need to do a custom sign.

Provide Contact Info

A part of the "sell it" goal is to have your contact information on the sign, as well as any required brokerage or franchise logos.  There are also often state regulations, as I had to be sure that the identity on the sign was the same as registered as a trade name with the state licensing agency.  All of that considered, you really only need the agency name, and/or your name and a phone number.

Other Contact Info

You may want to place an email address, special texting number or other direct contact info to help the drive-by prospect to reach you.  This is probably a good place to mention brochure boxes.  If you use one, that's fine, but often it's empty for periods of time that cost you leads.  Using a single property website address so they can look it up on their smart phone can make the difference.

These things are often the only information on the sign, perhaps with the addition of the MLS number, usually on a sign rider.  Next, let's talk about what they can see and what they can't when they pull up in front of that home.

What They See vs What You Can Show Them

Custom For Sale Sign
Jim Kimmons

 Let's get into the shoes of a roving buyer prospect.  They are driving around an area they like and see your listed for sale sign.  If it's just the common stuff, they may make note of your phone number or other contact information, but that will often be decided based on what they see or cannot see on the property.

You likely spent some time with the owner discussing curb appeal, and maybe they took some actions to make the home look better from the street.  But, that's often the only thing this potential buyer can see or will see unless they call for a showing.  That's a big leap, especially if they're only mildly interested based on the street-side view.

The image in this step is one of an early rendition of a sign I created for a very high end property in a mountain ski vacation area.  Later I did add the MLS number, but my client did not want anyone showing the property unless I was present, so the phone number was the main point of contact desired.  

The point is to check out what is on the sign that isn't on 95+% of signs out there.  I put interior photos and also one of the pool area in the back.  These are areas not visible from the street.  Also, it was gated and fenced for security, so they couldn't get out and roam even if they were bold enough to do so.

As well as local sign companies, there are multiple online resources for custom signs.  For mine, I used  This sign was 30 inches by 24 inches double-sided and made of aluminum.  That was my default, though saving money with single-sided printing was available.  I just never knew for sure where I might get the best exposure.  Even if facing one side to the street, if that side became damaged or marred, I could flip it around.

The cost of this sign at that time was around $75, and well worth it.  I would do the same for almost all of my home listings, as my average listing was over $400k in that area.  The point is that I didn't want to use brochure boxes, though I had great color brochures inside for showings.  For clients who weren't as restrictive as this one, I'd also have a dedicated domain name and single property website on the sign.  They could roam the interior from inside their car on their smart phones.

Think about going the extra mile and doing this for your next listing.  Take a photo, and show your next listing prospect, and it will make a great impression.