Bandit signs are the highway billboards of real estate wholesaling — only worse.
Think back to your last road trip. Chances are good that the highways you drove down were lined with hundreds of billboards advertising everything from hotels to lawyers to fast-food restaurants.
How many of these billboards caught your eye? Were you able to grab a pen and jot down the company’s name, phone number, and any additional details you wanted to remember? Chances are, you probably noticed only a small handful of the ads you passed and couldn’t save any of the information they listed anyway.
Bandit signs are the highway billboards of real estate wholesaling — only worse. Sure, they don’t cost much to produce and can be posted on the sides of busy streets with tons of traffic, but they have more disadvantages than perks.
Ban Bandit Signs
Bandit signs are small, unattractive, and require a lot of legwork. To post them, you have to drive around town with a pile of them in your car, find places to put them up, and physically hammer them into the ground or staple them to a telephone pole. Then, after all that effort, a property owner, policeman, or concerned citizen will likely throw your signs into the trash within a couple of days — rendering all your hard work a waste.
Some towns have even made these signs illegal. Fort Worth, Texas, for example, will fine you $500 per bandit sign. Police officers, city workers, and volunteers patrol the city in search of bandit signs to remove and destroy, often calling the number posted on the sign to lure the wholesaler into legal ramifications.
Even in cities where bandit signs are legal, residents who find them tacky and annoying will take them down. Indianapolis has a Facebook group dedicated to destroying these signs around the city. All in all, bandit signs are a losing strategy. Beyond being a waste of time and effort, they also make the wholesaler who posted them look sketchy. They’re called “bandit signs” for a reason.
Real estate wholesalers can get more — and better — deals by exploring the following marketing methods:
- Invest in digital advertising.Today, people automatically turn to the internet when they have a problem to solve, a question to answer, or information to find. They don’t drive around town looking at small signs stapled to wooden poles. If you aren’t investing in your web presence, start now. Build a professional website that instills trust in your business, and use awareness-boosting tactics like Google Ads to lead property owners right to you. Carrot, as an example, is one of the few marketing agencies that specialize in helping wholesalers build their digital footprints.
- Cold call stale listings and absentee owners. Use online tools like Zillow to keep track of how long it takes houses in your area to sell. If a property has been listed for 200-plus days, you can be sure the seller is feeling antsy. A phone call from a wholesaler might feel like a godsend. In fact, the seller might even be willing to slash the price and give you a better deal than you expected. This applies to absentee owners, too. The financial cost of maintaining a home they hardly use could be wearing on them, and a call from you could motivate them to sell at a great price. You can use a service like ListSource to identify the high-equity absentee owners in your area and platforms like REIRail to contact and track them.
- Conduct targeted in-person outreach. A solid in-person interaction can be more impactful than any advertisement or cold call. Start by creating your own list of distressed properties in your market. Find the neighborhoods that are full of homes built before 1960 that haven’t been updated or maintained. Then, hone your pitch, don a professional outfit, and knock on the door. Talk to these homeowners about why they should consider selling to you — instead of sinking money into more updates and repairs.
Real estate wholesalers need to stop relying on bandit signs. There are so many better, more thoughtful, more innovative marketing strategies out there that can be catalysts for growth and success. Through a combination of digital advertising and in-person outreach, you can introduce yourself to the right audience and find lucrative, mutually beneficial deals together. It is time to ditch the bandit signs and market smarter.
David Lecko is the CEO of DealMachine, the tool that’s made the old process of driving for dollars 10 times better by making it faster, repeatable, and highly profitable for investors all across the country.