For Sale By Owner Signs – Why They Are a Big Mistake

Every year, thousands of homeowners opt to avoid real estate commissions by listing their homes themselves without a Realtor®. It makes a lot of sense, why pay 6% of the sales price if you don’t have to (especially in a down market like today)? There is nothing wrong with this thought process or the decision to sell for sale by owner. However, the decision to go to a hardware store and buy a cheap white and red For Sale By Owner sign with a place to write in your number with a black marker, actually is a mistake that should be avoided.

Rather than use a For Sale By Owner sign, you should do one of two things. First you can design a custom sign that does not say For Sale By Owner and looks like a real estate company sign, but with your contact information. It does not have to say Realty, Properties, Real Estate or anything like that. It just should not say For Sale By Owner, By Owner, or anything of that nature. It needs to look like a real estate broker sign even if the subdivision name or something else is in the spot where you would normally have the real estate broker name. The second option is, if you are using a flat fee listing company to gain MLS entry, use that broker’s sign with your contact information on it (as long as it doesn’t have the same type of ‘for sale by owner’ slogans or URL’s the cheap signs from the hardware store have). You will benefit from the professional look with the Realtor® logos, while still getting all the drive-by phone calls that any For Sale By Owner using a cheap sign would receive.

Almost any sign company including several real estate sign companies on the Internet can assist you in designing and printing a For Sale sign. It might have a house on it, a snow scene if you live in the mountains or just be professional-looking with stylized fonts in 2 or more colors. You should place an Equal Housing Opportunity logo on it. Make sure it is the standard size metal sign that you see in your area, such as 2′ by 3′, and if possible, have it installed on a wood post or H-frame. Many major cities have sign installation companies that install and remove posts and signs for real estate agents; again this adds to the professional look and feel of the sign.

When your sign ceases to look like a cheap For Sale By Owner sign, you will cease to receive as many agents hassling you about listing your property with them. They are more likely to think you are already listed by an agent since your sign looks like a professional sign. (It is an ethical violation to approach the seller unsolicited and attempt to get a seller to cancel their listing and switch listing agents). Unrepresented buyers are less likely to realize right away that there are no agents involved and ask for a discount based on avoiding commissions. You are also less likely to be approached by scammers who attempt to prey on unrepresented sellers with various schemes like kicking back illegal payments to shill 3rd party companies. Finally, the professional -looking sign will tell prospective buyers that you are serious about selling; you did not just throw a cheap sign up on an overpriced property to see if anyone would pay your above market price.

How To Properly Use FSBO SIGNS

My intention in writing this article is to show you how to properly use FSBO signs. For Sale By Owners, FSBO, continually put home-made signs in their yards that they've purchased at local merchants, or chain stores. I'm sure you recognize them by their red and white color scheme and hand-written owner info on them.

The ones that arouse the most curiosity in me are the ones that put so much information on them in that horribly runny, black, felt tipped-pen, ink. You, I'm sure have seen them, they project the owners name, then the owner's phone numbers, followed by the price, followed by any other notations that the owner think passer by motorist and prospects would want to know.

I mean, is this silly, or what, let's consider what the passer by views as they go by:

The more information, the smaller the characters, on the sign, meaning the viewer must have eagle eyes to see it all, even if they stopped in the middle of the street and were able to memorize what they saw, or were at the least able to write down that information on a piece of paper, or pad they carried with them.

How many of your prospects that walk or drive by would be capable of doing that and carrying all that information back to their home, or place they're staying so they might be able to study it and put it to good use? My guess, not many.

The average prospective buyer drives their chosen neighborhoods in search of homes that attract them, initially by their looks from the street, then the looks of that neighborhood, or vise versa. It's a human quality, most humans have. That's where the old adage comes from that, "You Never Get A Second Chance To Make A First Impression".

People will be very judgmental on that first look, no matter what they're seeing for the first time, so let's be very frank in our discussions of yard signs!

A yard sign is ONLY the second thing that people notice, coming by your home, their first impression, good, bad, or indifferent, IS your home and ONLY if they are impressed by it, will they pay ANY attention to your yard sign.

Now then, as to your yard sign, it should be about 2 'X 3', in size (that's about the size of a real estate company signs). And rather than the paper, or card board signs those local and national merchants try to sell you that you can then use your magic marker on and watch sun-fade, or bleed through til it's unrecognizable, call on a local sign maker, or print shop (or even shop them on the internet, you can find everything else there) and order a custom corrugated plastic sign with vinyl lettering from them.

For that size sign, real estate companies will pay generally $ 20 – $ 40. on an individual basis, that will include a metal stake that holds the sign to the ground.

That price might vary, company to company and state to state, but if you look hard enough, those prices can be found, by the individual.

Now that you have a sign, let's discuss what would be advantageous to put on it?

The potential buyers WILL be impressed by your home, lest they wouldn't be looking for more information about it, but unlike the sign, I talked about in the beginning, don't overload it with content!

The most effective signs, I know that receive the most amount of activity are ones that have less information on them (less is more in this case) and rather than red & white, black letters on a yellow background field are the most eye catching.

On that yellow background, put, only the words:





Cell # 555-555-5555

Now this information offers much more information:

  • You'd like to sell your home quickly
  • The more rapid the sale, the more money the buyer saves
  • It states, every buyer is welcome, including, real estate agents (you're prepared to pay a commission for their buyers, as well as buyers, without the benefit of a real estate agent (think investors, roaming the neighborhoods).
  • put a website address up, ie, Facebook, or any other similar one that allows you to put pictures on, that you can direct people to & be sure there are pictures on it of the inside of your home to show them and they can refer others back to. At the VERY LEAST, put your email address in this place, so that they can contact you without you need to be home.
  • And most importantly, offer them a phone # (preferably a cell #) for the interested prospects to call for whatever information is pertinent to them.

All that other information is irrelevant, if that prospect is curious enough to have questions that need answered and willing enough to make a simple phone call, or write an email, or got to that website page to satisfy themselves of their answers.

Be prepared, if the prospect can close their offer (hand you the money and close the deal at a lawyerer's office, or abstract company) within 2 weeks ( put in your own time-line here, an all cash sale closing by an abstract company can take as little time as 2, or 3 days ). For that "quick sale" be prepared to offer that buyer a 2 – 5% ( fill in your own% here, from your negotiated selling price ), but realize that for this benefit to you, 5% is not an outrageous benefit to give to the buyer.

Without this "quick sale" let the prospect know what price ( your list price ) you would want to sell your home for.

There are other common questions that can be answered over the phone and by writing the answers down, after the first few calls, on a sheet of paper, it will serve you well in being able to quickly answer any future calls.

Some, but not all of those common questions might be:

  • How much are your utilities for the year
  • How old are the appliances in the home
  • What schools could children attend, in your neighborhood
  • Do you have wood floors and if so in what rooms are they
  • How old is your heater and air conditioner
  • How old is your roof
  • Are you on a septic tank, or city water
  • etc.

Don't worry, there will be several other questions that they'll think of, but if you think of the information you'd like to know when you're buying your next house, I'm sure you can come up with some others of your own.

Keep all these things in mind while making your yard sign and getting ready to tackle selling your own home. You'll do just fine.

  1. Don't overload your yard sign with so much content, it's unreadable
  2. make your sign approximately 2 'X 3' and don't use red and white (yellow field with black letters are best
  3. Let ONLY the interested prospects call you (it cuts your wasted time with uninterested prospects down)
  4. Be prepared when they do call, write down a list of questions and be prepared to answer them
  5. Be sure to get them inside your home by asking them for an appointment
  6. Place it (or them, corner lots, deserve two signs, or more) in the most visible area of ​​your yard from the street.
  7. And be sure to enjoy the process!