Bandit signs are those annoying signs you see put up on telephone poles that say “We Buy Houses”. Real estate investors have used them forever. Do they work? In general, I believe the answer is yes. They work when they are used properly. Are they a pain in the neck to put up? Absolutely! They are an integral part of any marketing campaign for real estate investors.
I believe the name “Bandit” comes from the way you feel putting up those signs. Most real estate investors will go out either early in the morning or later in the evening when there is less traffic and therefore less chance of being seen. You want to put them out on Friday evening or Saturday morning for best results. From experience, I can tell you that it makes you feel a little bit like a criminal (that is trying not to get caught) when attaching these signs to the poles. Having to pull a ladder out of the back of a pick up truck doesn’t help. For those of you that haven’t put up Bandit signs, you try to put them up really high so someone can’t just walk up and pull them down easily. You want them to have to work at pulling down those signs! If you can, put them about 10 to 20 feet off the road.
How Much Do They Cost?
The most commonly used sizes for Bandit Signs in either 12”x18” or 18”x24”, and they cost between $1.00 and $2.50 per sign if you buy 100 at a time. 18”x24” signs can be seen by persons traveling 30-50 mph in a car. But the smaller signs are picked up less by the code enforcement folks, and they are the ones I have always used.
Plain white corrugated signs can be bought for under a dollar a sign. I think buying these plain white signs is a great idea. Not only can you use them for “We Buy Houses” signs, but you can also use them to sell your houses. You can just use red permanent marker and make up sign that says something like “Must Sell. Cash Only. $25,000” and just put your phone number on the sign. Put up these signs in the area where you have a house to sell. I have had good luck with “home made corrugated” signs.
Tips for Using Bandit Signs
You want to keep the message on your signs short and simple. “We Buy Houses” is probably one of the most popular signs you will see. Just put your message and your phone number on the sign for maximum effect. Every real estate investor has a different opinion on which color is the best to use. So you will need to decide for yourself which is best suited for you.
When you have finally gotten your order of Bandit Signs don’t be tempted to hurry out and put all 100 signs up. You want to put up 20-25 signs at a time, saturating one area at a time. After you have put your fist batch of signs up, go out in about a week and choose another area and put up 20-25 more. You want to rotate your areas when putting out your signs.
When we have used Bandit Signs, our procedure was to drive around our farm area to find the exact locations where we wanted to put them up. We would look for high traffic areas for the signs. Usually we would choose an intersection with a red light or stop sign or an area such as an off ramp at a major highway. Other good places are near major department stores such as Home Depot, Lowe’s and Wal-mart where you might find real estate investors such as rehabbers or landlords. Putting them in neighborhoods is a sure way to lose your sign quickly.
Once we decided on a location, it was time to pull out the ladder, the hammer and the nails, and get the sign up. I might mention that a year or so ago we came across a device that is sold for attaching signs to the poles. It looks like a large staple gun attached to an “arm or pole”. I haven’t tried it, but I’m almost sure it works better than a hammer and nails.
Bandit Signs typically last about as long as a newspaper ad before someone takes them down. That’s about 3-7 days. Every now and then one will stay up for months before being taken down.
The Bandit Sign Police!
You also need to be aware of the “Bandit sign police”. Those are the folks that hate the signs and go behind you and take them down. I might mention that it is also illegal in some neighborhoods to put them up. You might get a call or two, but in general they will just be taken down.
On one occasion, we put out 20-25 signs very early on a Saturday morning. A couple of hours later, we went out to run some errands and discovered that all of the signs along one road had been removed. We decided to check the other locations and discovered almost all of them had been taken down! In fact, a guy in a pick up truck was actually in the process of taking one down as we drove past. I wanted to stop and ask him for my signs back, but I decided not to push my luck.
Later that afternoon I got an angry voicemail message from a man, “The sign police”, thanking me for messing up his Saturday morning. How funny is that! I have often wondered if he was actually another real estate investor that just wanted my signs gone.
Hiring Someone to Put Up the Signs
I believe that any successful marketing campaign is made up of different strategies. Bandit Signs are just one of many strategies that a real estate investor can use. I can tell you from experience, there will come a time when you won’t personally want to put those signs up anymore. So hire someone to do it!
Either find a high school or college kid that wants to make a few bucks, or try to work a deal with someone to put them up and act as a “bird dog.” Most folks tell you when they call as a result of your marketing whether they received a letter; saw a sign, or just how they got your number. If you have someone putting up signs it will easy to track. You might offer to pay that person a fee such as a few hundred dollars if you buy (or sell) a house as a result of putting up those signs. Better yet, to make sure the signs actually get put up, offer them a fee per sign (maybe a dollar) plus a bonus if you buy a house as a result of the signs. Most teenagers spend a lot of time driving around anyway so they may as well be making some money while they are driving.
Where Do I Buy the Signs?
You will find many resources online as well as local places in your area that will carry these types of signs. Real estate investors have used www.BanditSigns.com for just about as long as I can remember. I recently came across a company on the internet called “Signs on the Cheap”. They have 100 signs for $99.00. You can find them at: www.SignsOnTheCheap.com
For additional tips for real estate investors on marketing check out “Finding Motivated Sellers When Wholesaling Houses at http://www.squidoo.com/finding-motivated-sellers-when-wholesaling-houses.