Wild Idea: Signs that Say Something Useful

After an owner move-in eviction found my ass on the street a few years back, I resolved never to rent again. At the time things were slowing down, but they weren’t nearing full stop as they are now; so yes, interest only loans were still quite the popular option for teachers and similarly paid neophyte buyers with delusions of grander domiciles.
My agent, whose name I never speak unless I’m drunk, and even then, won’t say more than twice in row for fear that she, like Beetlejuice, will materialize on the third iteration, was evil. She would constantly take me to $650-$750K condos that I fell in love with, whispering in my ear sweet lies about how an ARM would make them more affordable than rent. When I later viewed properties in the $400K range, I hated them- yet they would have been perfectly acceptable if not viewed through the “but for just a few hundred more per month, you could have something so much nicer” lense. She was, for this and other reasons, the embodiment of why people ask “Why are Realtors such assholes.” (And they do ask that, and others answer: You can see for yourself on this Frontsteps blog post.)
But now I’m jaded. Still renting, but ever so much more informed, and well aware that I have no business in a $700K home. This is why I ask, nay beg, Realtors to be better at advertising on open house days. Say I’ve come to look at something in particular: Invariably, I will see 100 signs for other places also open that day, all in the same ‘hood, easily visited. In fact, so ubiquitous are these signs, we may soon see a law against them crowding the sidewalk, as reported on Schtuff. But though plentiful, these advertisements aren’t very useful.
First off, the entire sandwich board is generally taken up by the brokerage logo, and the address of the home for sale. Some also include the hours of the open house, and very occasionally, more info, like CONDO or SFH. See, now I know to try the former, but avoid the latter, since I recognize my income limitations. Helpful.
Better still though would be full disclosure: type of property, number of rooms, square footage, and yes: price. I’m not the only buyer to appreciate this idea either. I got the photo above from a blog by Tracey Taylor, on a similar theme. I realize, Realtor that I’m not, there is some reason for this evasion of detail. But buyer that I am, I tell you, I need it un-evaded. For properly informed, I would come to your open house if I knew I belonged there. I would not come if I did not.
…How much time could we all save? 

9 thoughts on “Wild Idea: Signs that Say Something Useful

  1. we could save hours! Hours and hours! I’ve never understood why price and details aren’t listed either. Shit, look at for rent signs on homes. They tell exactly what it is and a phone number that goes directly to someone that can answer a question, not a receptionist like most real estate numbers. That adds another thing to go on the bottom of the sign, the agents cell phone number. annoying. Why hide the facts? lame, but great post Anna. Alex was smart to get you on board.

  2. I totally agree with this. Seriously. I end up not going to most of the open houses I see signs for on Sundays because I just guess they’re likely not affordable. Lost client here!

  3. How old are you now OP as a renter? Hopefully not much more than 30, b/c once u become a 30 yr old renter, you will become very bitter and end up a 40 year old renter. You’ll be mad at the world.

  4. is it asking too much that you do a little research before you go out looking at open houses? you might find it ultimately very time-saving.

  5. How about an iPhone app, which gets your location, and bring up the property information in detail?

    Well, I am sure this would be worked on in the bubble years, but given the market today, no developer would spend time on RE apps

    [Editor’s Note: There is such a thing. Not yet on the iPhone, which is why we haven’t picked it up. Called Smarter Agent or something. The guy’s been hammering us to try it. Goes on any cell phone, stand in front of a house and get the deets based off of gps. Pretty slick, but the UI is lacking.]

  6. I do a lot of research, lefty. I am talking about signs there that I did not research, that I would visit also on whim. They must be there on the off chance that a looker will see them and visit them… why not maximize the potential that the looker is the type who can actually buy that property?

  7. Obviously, some readers here do NOT walk on sunday afternoon. If you were, you wouldn’t be lightyears away from the real world, where you can pick a major street crossing ([email protected], [email protected], cesarchavez @ stVN) and see about 10 signs next to each others.
    That’s what I’m guessing AnnaMarie is talking about.

    NO. Internet, newspaper and research do NOT work simply because about a third of those signs are for property not in MLS, not always in the Chron (which becomes increasingly unreadable thanks to stupid marketing strategies of missplacing the neighborhoods), and if there were advertised somewhere, chances are that the information wouldnt match time or address of real open house. (cancelled and rescheduled opening for the obvious example).

    On the good side, there is an increasing number of signs which bear a good color copy of the flyer for the aforementioned walkers, and yes, usually I’ll have a look at a property seen on such a flyer (on the basis of “extra effort from the agent becomes extra visit on my list”).

    So I only can agree with AnnaMarie and say that signs should not be the full size portrait of the agent, but have a CLEAR address (please, stop handwriting with a chalk!), and usefull informations.

    Furthermore, for sale signs on the properties/curbside should have at least SHF/Condo/TIC, and the doorway should, in most cases, have a flyer holder with a few colored copies of the flyer (specially for buyers who miss the openhouse such as traffic delay [for buyer or showing agent], too many properties etc).

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