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Bandit Signs: The Ultimate Guide For Real Estate Investing

bandit signs Nov 21, 2019

For a marketing campaign to be successful, a point of contact must be created for a transaction to be initiated. This is why bandit signs are considered an essential element of a real estate marketing system for many investors.

Even though some might dismiss them as ‘primitive’ when compared to contemporary techniques, bandit signs can go a long way in generating unparalleled exposure for investors at all levels and can enhance brand awareness.

Today, even the most successful real estate investors make use of different variations of bandit signs since they have been tested and proven for years.

Their simplicity disguises their complexity. You don’t need a lot of resources and effort to place bandit signs. However, if you want them to give you long-term success, there is a lot you need to learn.

Remember, the success of your bandit sign campaign will ultimately determine the profitability of your real estate business.

Make sure you familiarize yourself with as much information as you can about bandit signs so that they can help maximize your return on investment.

To do this, take a seat, grab your favorite beverage, and read on!

Enjoy the Ultimate Guide for Bandit Signs! Use this menu to jump to your section of choice:

 

What Are Bandit Signs?

Bandit signs are essentially small variations of the common billboard.

They are poster-sized, printed signs that are often used by real estate investors to entice homeowners to sell their homes for money. More often than not, you will see such signs on the streets, with verbiage such as “We Buy Homes for Cash.”

Since bandit signs are intended to be the first point of contact between a real estate investor and her prospects, their usefulness is correlated with the strategic placement of every sign. 

Whether they are placed on the ground, pinned on telephone poles, or staked on a street corner, they are meant to catch the attention of people passing by.

Despite being coined the ‘bandit’ name by industrial jargon, these signs are essential in developing highly targeted leads.

This photo shows bandit signs with various designs, yet they contain a common message:

bandit signs

Photo Credit

 

Are Bandit Signs Illegal?

Using bandit signs is one of the prominent ways of achieving targeted marketing success. Nonetheless, the main concern about these signs is the legality of their use.

This is primarily because most local governments don't permit their use since they are a violation of city regulations and codes.

Before you use bandit signs, therefore, you need to check with local officials to find out the regulations governing sign placement. By doing this, you will ensure that you don’t fall on the wrong side of the law.

The legality of bandit signs varies from one city to another. This is because every city has the right to establish its own preventive measures.

As a real estate investor, you will be fined accordingly if you are found in breaking the law regarding sign placement. In some cities, you might be fined $200, while in others you might cough up to $500 per violation.

Also, before you put up bandit signs, you need to know that not all local residents will appreciate the act. For this reason, expect to encounter mixed reactions when you decide to use this type of marketing tool for your real estate business.

Placing bandit signs is risky if their legality is anything to go by. Over the years, nonetheless, they have proven to be highly effective, such that the rewards they tag along outweigh the potential fines you could pay if you are caught violating city codes.

They can generate leads and deals to your business, which override penalties imposed by local authorities. This means that the choice to use bandit signs is up to you. When you weigh the benefits against the risks, you will be able to make the ideal decision for your business.

Here is the good news – other than banning the use of these signs, some cities have developed laws that enhance their responsible usage. This has helped local authorities adjust their practices in a manner that accommodates investors.

For instance, some of them allow the use of bandit signs on particular days of the week, as long as the sign owner agrees to remove them on other days. Many local investors strategically place bandit signs only on weekends. 

Watch this helpful 1 minute Public Service Announcement (PSA) from the City of San Antonio stating their local ordinances around bandit signs:

 

How Do Real Estate Bandit Signs Work?

A bandit sign is simply a sign with big letters on it, normally on a colored background, showing that a real estate investor is looking to buying property in the local area.

Real estate investors themselves make bandit signs, or they can use the services of third-party printing companies or designers. Then, they are strategically placed in neighborhoods where it is highly probable that homeowners are ready to sell their homes hassle-free to an investor. 

These signs don't require a sophisticated design. They simply include:

  1. Several words showing the investor's interest in purchasing houses 
  2. Contact information

In fact, they can be designed using basic services such as Canva. Better still, you can hire a freelancer on Upwork or any other platform to design a custom bandit sign for you.

When the signs are printed, they are then placed on heavily trafficked areas or where motorists will see them with ease. With time, investors receive calls from interested sellers, and they attempt to negotiate a deal.

This is where a follow up process is essential. You should have a lead intake system in place to promptly capture and track any calls that come in.

While most investors send these calls to voicemail or answer themselves, some investors take it a step further. They hire phone service reps at a call center, often outside of the United States, to field these leads for them. 

When you place bandit signs, make sure you check on them regularly to ensure they are not vandalized or damaged by human-made and natural elements. This will increase the likelihood of homeowner contact, and increase the success rate of your campaign.

Here's an 11-minute in-depth video guide covering How Real Estate Bandit Signs Work:

 

 

How Much Do Bandit Signs Cost?

Once you've decided to proceed with a bandit signs campaign, the next phase would be to develop a budget.

Remember, you want to achieve maximum success from your campaign, while limiting your expenses. Therefore, take your time and develop a workable budget within your means

Determine the amount of funds you can commit on a weekly basis without hurting your business. Evaluate the estimated response rate and determine the return on investment. By doing this, you will be able to justify the amount of money you may use on the campaign.

Online printers such as Vistaprint sell customizable corrugated plastic signs starting at around $19.00 for one sign. Search for the term "yard signs" since these sites may not be advertise them as "bandit signs."

Who buys only one bandit sign? You'll want to buy in bulk to get the price of signs cheap. For instance, the unit price is only $5.40 when purchasing 100 signs. 

Search on sites like Amazon.com and Walmart.com to find even better bulk deals on cheap bandit signs. You may need to handwrite your phone number, but it's a great option if you're on a tight budget. 

Plan to spend an additional $10.00 to buy zip ties from a store like Home Depot to connect 100 signs. Budget another $120.00 for a heavy-duty bandit sign stapler to put up the signs on wooden structures and telephone poles. However, the price will vary depending on the store you choose, and the deals available.

Creating cheap bandit signs: The super-tips

Creating bandit signs is highly inexpensive. One sign will cost a few bucks. Nonetheless, the size of the signage, quantity, and the quality of the stakes will determine its overall cost. The following tips will help you create cheap but effective signs:

  • Keep the message to the point - the more elaborate the signage, the higher the price you will pay for your signs. To keep the cost down, develop a clear and concise message. Simply put, focus on what you want, and prompt your prospects to take your number and call you for more information.
  • Create large signs - a large sign will cost you a little more, but it will significantly cut costs because you will not need to create many of them for your target market to see. With a larger sign, you will be able to input a larger font; which will enhance visibility from a distance.
  • Strategic placement is vital - to save on costs, expose your signs to as many people as possible. Remember, motorists will not stop to read your signs. Therefore, produce a handful of signs and place them in high-traffic areas such as near traffic lights, gas stations, and/or near stop signs.

 

Who Puts Up We Buy Houses Bandit Signs?

Bandit signs are typically put up by:

  1. Real Estate Investors
  2. Real Estate Agents
  3. Real Estate Wholesalers
  4. Acquisition & Marketing Teams for Local Investors

Third-party companies or interns can be hired to put them up on the investor's behalf.

Bandit sign marketers are advertising to get leads for:

  • Motivated sellers
  • Buyers of property
  • Renters of property

Here's what a common "We Buy Houses" bandit sign looks like:
we buy houses bandit signs

Photo Credit

 

Who Responds To Real Estate Bandit Signs?

Some homeowners need an urgent move due to personal or work-related reasons.

Others may want to sell their homes quickly due to foreclosure or short sale, as such, they might offer their houses at under-market prices.

Real estate companies seeking to connect with such leads use bandit signs to capture their attention.

A homeowner who calls a number on a bandit sign has confirmed an interest in selling her home. The potential seller wants to work with a real estate company that understands her needs, is reliable, can be trusted, and one that can make her feel comfortable throughout the process.

Ensure that you are friendly, approachable, and professional when dealing with homeowners who respond to your bandit signs. Most of these sellers find themselves in nerve-wracking financial positions; thus you need to make the buying process less intimidating.

Also, you must promise to safeguard their privacy and not disclose their financial predicaments to anyone.

Interested real estate investors looking for deals may also respond to bandit signs. They know that a fellow real estate investor or wholesaler with potential leads is just a phone call away. This is a great way to build your cash buyer's list if you're a wholesaler. 

 

Where To Find Blank Bandit Signs?

You can find the best blank bandit signs in your local store. However, below are some online stores that will give you the best deals on these products:

Buildasign.com - this is a reputable sign company that features thousands of pre-designed templates. To purchase in this store, all you need to do is fill your personal information, select the number of signs you need, and complete the order. If you order five corrugated plastic signs with wire stakes for display, you will get a discounted price of $7.60.

BanditSigns.com - this is a store which has tons of pre-printed designs but also has a several customizable options. Printed signs go for as little as $3.50.

DirtCheap Signs - This is a design company that has a myriad of bandit sign templates to choose from. The store allows you to decide whether to use wooden or wire stakes. The cost of 10 signs is $6, but the cost of stakes is not included.

 

How To Make Bandit Signs?

Bandit signs are made out of two major physical components:

  1. The stake
  2. The sign

The stake is made with metal, and features prongs that help to hold the weight of the sign. With a bandit sign hammer, you can easily strike the sign on soft ground.

Blank bandit signs are made out of corrugated plastic. This makes it possible to hang them on wooden surfaces using a bandit sign stapler.

The typical bandit sign size is 18 by 24 inches, or 12 by 18 inches, and is 4 millimeters thick.

If you have decided to make handwritten bandit signs yourself, below are tips that will enhance your success:

  • Get an easy-to-remember number to place on the signs. Make sure that the number cannot be traced. Consider obtaining a Google Voice phone number. 
  • Never put a company’s name on the sign. This will make it easy for authorities to catch up with you in case you knowingly or unknowingly break the regulations.
  • Do not write your name on the signs
  • When writing a message, make sure you keep it clear and to the point. For example, simply write, “WE PURCHASE HOUSES QUICK CASH.”
  • Make sure that the context includes a maximum of two lines and the phone number.
  • Ensure that you use a big and bold font that is visible from a distance
  • Always choose a color scheme that is bright enough, and one that complements your brand

Plan to draft about 200-500 bandit signs, since many of the signs will be torn, and others will be vandalized. To cut on costs when buying blank bandit signs, ensure you compare multiple stores so that you can get the best deals possible.

Remember, the more you buy, the more economic the costs will be.

 

Where To Put Bandit Signs?

For a fact, you will not achieve maximum success with your bandit sign campaign if you don’t place signs in high-traffic areas.

However, before you pick an area to put up bandit signs, make sure you check with local authorities to find out regulations regarding placements on the areas you have identified.

Some of the best places to position your bandit signs include;

Public Medians 

Identify a public median in the area you want to target and strategically place your bandit signs. However, keep in mind that medians divide traffic. Therefore, make sure that your signs are visible from both directions.

The best way to do this is to place signs on both sides, which will enhance maximum exposure.

In Busy Intersections

Busy intersections are some of the places where people are forced to stop. When you place your signs here, motorists will have no options but to look at them as they wait. Nonetheless, do not bombard them with countless signs in every corner.

Your goal should be to acquire 100% visibility but don't forget that having too much might make your prospects perceive your business as less professional.

In Front Of The Property You Have Bought

If you have acquired a property in your target location, placing a bandit sign in front of it will help you enhance your brand awareness.

If you haven’t acquired property yet in your target community, you can talk to a few homeowners and see if they would allow you to put up signs on their property.

In Front Of Shopping Centers

Shopping centers such as Walmart and Home Depot enjoy high volume traffic on a daily basis. If you put your bandit signs on such areas, you can rest assured that they will get the visibility you are looking for.

However, you need to talk to the store manager or property owners, because they might bring down your signs if you don't seek prior permission.

Before putting up bandit signs in front of shopping centers, make sure you have an outstanding design that will stand out from others that were placed with the same intent.

Your ultimate goal should be to compete with business rivals for business and visibility.

Uniqueness is the only thing that will make prospects consider calling the number on your bandit signs instead of others.

bandit signs

 

Tips For Hanging Bandit Signs

You want to put up bandit signs, but you don't want to be caught breaking the law, right?

Below are some of the tips that you can use to remain safe:

  • Put Signs Out At Night

In most cities, putting up bandit signs is not only illegal, but it is considered a form of littering. Therefore, you might be forced to pay huge penalties if you are caught in the act. To avoid getting a citation, place your signs when darkness falls.

  • Place Signs On Friday Evenings

Don’t attempt to place bandit signs on weekdays, unless you are ready to accept the consequences. You will be better off if you place them on Friday evening. By doing this, you will be taking advantage of the fact that authorities will not be patrolling the area until Monday morning.

As mentioned earlier, make sure you don’t put up the signs in places where you don’t have permission, such as in a neighbor’s compound.

  • Hang Two Variations And Test The Results

A secret that can help you acquire maximum results with bandit signs is to test their results. You can do this by getting two phone numbers. Use one in a printed sign, and the other on a handwritten sign.

Then, hang the two signs on the same area, and identify the one that will receive the most calls. Once you do this, you will be able to develop a plan that will speed up the attainment of your goals.

  • Don’t Flood One Area With Signs

Since you have printed hundreds of signs, you might be tempted to hang them all in one high-traffic area to increase visibility. However, you should know that as soon as people see your signs everywhere, they will lose their attractiveness to it.

When your prospects are put off by your ads, you will certainly get little or no leads. Therefore, don't spread your blankets everywhere. Identify key areas and put out fewer signs in a strategic way.

 

How Many Bandit Signs Should I Put Out?

You can put up as many bandit signs as you want, considering that most of them will be pulled down, vandalized, or go missing for some reason.

Nonetheless, there are some questions you should ask yourself before you put up your signs: How many calls am I able to handle? What is the size of my target market?

Look – if you put 1000 signs throughout the city, would you be able to handle all the calls that will come as a result?

You should start slowly and put up a few signs strategically in your target area. Then, start adding more without overwhelming yourself.

When one is pulled down, be quick to replace it. This practice will show your prospects that you have a continued presence and not a ‘fly-by-nighter.'

Most people might not need you when you first hang the signs.

But, by continuously seeing your contact information, they might eventually take a photo and save your number in their contacts.

Then, whenever they need to sell their homes, they will undoubtedly get in touch.

Basically, you can do well by placing about 200 signs in a small town, and about 500 in a bigger one. 

 

Where Can I Get Free Bandit Signs?

Unfortunately, there are no known distributors of free bandit signs.

Nonetheless, there are ways of making them cheaply using repurposed materials that are almost free, such as post-election signs, old/used signs, and cardboard boxes.

The only problem is that you will need many of them to create perfect bandit signs.

It is, therefore, prudent to pay for the signs.

 

How To Find Cheap Bandit Signs With Stakes?

You can find cheap bandit signs with stakes in your local store as long as you do research and take your time before deciding on where to buy.

However, you can also get them in popular stores such as Amazon, buildasign.com, dirtcheapsigns.com, and builditsigns.com. Ask for "yard signs" instead of "bandit signs."

Make sure you do your homework well and determine whether you need pre-made or customizable designs before going to the market.

 

Pros And Cons Of Real Estate Bandit Signs

As with anything, bandit signs come with its fair share of pros and cons. We have included both in the section below.

Pros

  • They are affordable. Using bandit signs is one of the most affordable ways of generating leads in real estate investing. They can cost as little as $2 per sign depending on where you acquire them.
  • With bandit signs, you will be able to attract homeowners who don’t want to engage with traditional real estate agents.
  • Bandit signs attract homeowners who want to sell their homes fast and willing to accept a discount

Cons

  • They are illegal in some cities. You might be fined up to $250 per day per sign if you are found in violation of the codes regarding placement.
  • They can be taken down by competitors. Unlike other methods of generating leads such as direct mail, bandit signs can be taken down by competitors because, in the real estate industry, not everyone is willing to play nice!
  • Some residents might perceive them as ugly on purpose, and they could be taken down as soon as you put them up.
  • Bandit signs can take a lot of time to put up. There are other strategies you can use to find more real estate deals in less time.

 

Bandit Signs Vs Direct Mail

Both bandit signs and direct mail are old school ways of generating targeted leads in real estate.

However, two analogies can help differentiate these two methods – the use of bandit signs can only be compared to chumming the waters of tuna while using direct mail is like putting the right bait on the right hook to lure a fish on the line.

This doesn’t mean that bandit signs are a waste of resources. No! This is a method that has helped many real estate investors get leads and achieve business success.

But this method is ‘broadcast’ in nature, unlike using direct mail which allows you to directly reach to your prospects, track results, and regime your approach where need be.

In terms of cost, bandit signs are cheaper than direct mail, but the former raises some questions, especially when it comes to their legality in some municipalities.

The bottom line is, both the bandit sign and direct mail are highly effective. Therefore, you can achieve more success if you choose to include both of them in your marketing budget, instead of opting for one of them.

 

Final Thoughts On Bandit Signs

Every real estate investor needs to determine if bandit signs are a worthwhile marketing tool for their business.

The best place to start is by looking at the laws governing these signs in your locality. Then, find out what the fines are so that you can be able to weigh the risk vs the benefits.

Without a doubt, this is a tricky method to navigate, but most real estate professionals swear that the tactic generates viable rewards. If you incorporate some of the tips and insights provided in this article, you should have your phone ringing before you know it.

In case bandit signs are strictly outlawed in your locale, there are a host of other alternative methods you can try including social media, search engine advertising, Multiple Listing Services (MLS), lead generation software, and direct mail. Best of luck!

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