One of the most effective and frequently overlooked methods of filling or selling a property is the use of directional arrow signs. I'm guilty of it myself, although usually I'm merely lazy instead of overlooking this great marketing technique. Being lazy usually costs me in terms of holding costs, especially if you happen to be in a buyer's market as I currently am. Even if you're in a hot market where everything is moving quickly, directionals will move your property that much quicker.
Yes, there are numerous other methods you can use such as: flyers in the neighborhood and large stores and shopping malls, ads in the large and small papers, listings on the internet, listing with a real estate agent, calling real estate agents to inform them, mailouts to apartment complexes, yard signs with flyer boxes, open houses, calling loan officers, emailing your buyer list, etc., etc. (I have one friend use advertises her properties on the cable preview channel and she says it works great. Unfortunately, that option isn't available in my area.)
Why Do Directionals Work So Well?
Directional arrow signs work well for a number of reasons. First, they are targeted to the neighborhood where the property is located so the folks who will actually see them are the buyers or tenants who are already driving the neighborhood looking for properties. The second group of people who will see the signs are the residents who already live there. Many times the nearby residents will have family or friends who want to move into the neighborhood.
Flyers delivered to the neighborhood will also accomplish the notification aspect that there's an available property, but what flyers don't do is lead the prospect or prospect's friend straight to the front door.
Why Not Just Use Typical Bandit Signs?
For those that don't know, bandit signs are the road-side signs that many people utilize to advertise their business, favorite politician, and/or properties for sale or lease. The signs come in many colors and sizes, some professionally done and some hand-written. The nickname bandit signs stems from the fact that many municipalities have sign ordinances that prohibit their use or restrict use in the public domain or right of way.
The primary weakness of typical bandit signs for marketing a property for sale or lease is that the sign provides a little information (often impossible to read while driving by) and a phone number. If I'm out looking for properties today, I don't want to leave a message or turn around to go see what the sign said. I want to drive by NOW, not tomorrow, not later today, right now.
How is a Directional Arrow Sign Different?
Who said anything about one directional sign? I'm talking an entire series of signs that leads the prospect from the main thoroughfare all the way through the neighborhood to the driveway of your property. There's no thinking, major squinting, turning around, or phone calls involved here. "Oh, honey, turn there quick." Then it's "look, there's another sign, turn there." etc., all the way to the property. Then, of course, there's more information including contact numbers available at the property.
Okay, So How Do I Implement This Technique?
Here's the way I do it and you should tweak it and improve to suit you. When a property becomes available, I study the neighborhood and determine the "best" ways to lead prospects to my property. By "best", I take into consideration ease of navigation, neighborhood amenities like parks and schools, and surrounding properties. If there's a back way into the subdivision or location, I map out both paths.
My target locations are every single corner that my prospects will need to turn in order to get to the property. If there's a really long stretch without a turn, then I might need a directional arrow in the middle of that stretch to keep them coming. My experience has been that I will have to replace signs within the neighborhood only a few times, but I have to monitor the signs on the major roads and replace them fairly frequently. However, these signs tend to stay put much longer than a traditional bandit sign.
Then I simply go door-knocking and ask people if I can place a small directional sign in their yard. I intentionally do this during the day to miss folks because I'd rather not get involved in lengthy discussions about the property and I've got many doors to get to. Once I'm sure no one's home, I leave a letter in the screen door or someplace where it will be easily seen. I drop this letter at all four houses on each corner on the route.
What Does the Letter Say?
I've found it's important to NOT come across as a real estate investor or a company. I use an informal style and simply ask for help in finding someone to buy or lease my property. Points that I include in the letter are:
The end result of this effort is that perhaps I pay out $160 to $200 in referral fees, but I have to run my $50 to $150 worth of weekly newspaper ads many, many fewer weeks. It definitely pays off from a monetary standpoint. The other benefit is that I now have a list of folks near each property (whom I've never even met) who think I'm great. Every single person will call me back after receiving their gift to thank me and the large majority volunteer that I'm more than welcome to do this anytime I need.
What Do the Signs Look Like?
The signs I use are basically the standard bandit signs cut in half. A normal size bandit sign is 18" x 24" and I use 9" x 12" signs for my directional arrows. I have a red directional arrow that takes up about 5 inches of the sign, leaving the bottom 4 inches blank. Within the red arrow I ask the sign company to put my message which could be "Owner Finance" or "Lease Purchase" or whatever you prefer. The message is easy to read.
In the blank space I use a large marker to write the property address. It's important to leave enough blank space below the arrow to write the address in large numbers and letters. Also, as I mentioned above, I include the "owner permission" tag line on top of the arrow. I buy 36" wooden stakes from Home Depot and attach an arrow sign to each side of the stake so the information can be seen coming and going.
If you don't have a source for these signs, please contact BanditSigns.com to get some. They're inexpensive and well worth the cost.
I hope you'll add this tool to your marketing techniques and discover the same success I've had in using it. You may find that you abandon many other advertising tools you've been using in the past.
(c) Copyright 2003, All Rights Reserved.
About The Author
Tim Randle is a full-time real estate investor in the Austin, Texas area. For more information, please visit his web site at http://TexasRealEstateClub.com