When you list your home for sale, a “For Sale” sign is placed in your front yard. That is standard procedure. Long before the internet, real estate for sale signs was thought to be essential to a seller’s success. Try Googling “home for sale” on image search to see if you can find a stock photo that does not include the traditional red and white signage. Few sellers, if given the option, would pass up an opportunity to attract passersby or interested friends of nearby neighbours.
With the majority of buyers now turning to online searches, many sellers are asking their real estate agents: do for-sale signs actually help boost home sales, or are they simply a longstanding tradition we continue to uphold despite their ineffectiveness?
According to a 2014 report published by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), more than 90% of home buyers begin their search online. The speed and efficiency of Google searches have changed the way the vast majority of buyers begin their search for their ideal house, style, and neighbourhood.
It’s rare these days to find someone who would take a long drive to check out a location, especially if they don’t have any leads in the area. In fact, the NAR reported in 2013 that only 9% of purchased homes were discovered through a yard sign.
How Can Real Estate For Sale Signs Help?
For many real estate agents, the Realtor’s sign serves as a way for potential buyers to contact listing agents directly or to broaden their search into neighbourhoods they had not previously considered. So, while a yard sign may not have the same measurable direct impact as your online real estate listing, we see no reason not to include one — especially since it’s a relatively simple marketing tactic that informs anyone passing through the neighbourhood that your property is for sale.
In addition to attracting the attention of passersby, “House For Sale” yard signs elicit responses from neighbours and other local residents. A purely physical indication that your home is for sale allows people to avoid the online search — an action that can only be taken if you know exactly what you’re looking for.
Why Would You Not Want a For Sale Sign in Your Front Yard?
The alleged negative effects of putting a For Sale sign in your yard typically revolve around the homeowner’s safety and general privacy concerns. When random people see that your house is for sale, it may become a target for burglars or local thieves.
The homeowner’s safety may be jeopardised at times, especially if sensitive personal information is published in photos circulating on the Internet. Someone described an extreme case in which thieves used the names of the homeowner’s children — found, for example, in wall decorations — to coerce the seller into giving them what they wanted.
Homeowners who choose to post a “For Sale” sign may face the additional risk of strangers asking to enter their home at random times. While agents advise sellers not to let anyone into their homes unless they are accompanied by a licensed real estate agent. Sellers are ultimately responsible for deciding whether or not others can enter.
Then there’s the issue of confidentiality. Some high-end homeowners believe that using a sign to indicate that their home is publicly on the market will jeopardise the exclusivity of the sale and eliminate opportunities to attract higher offers from interested buyers. No real estate agent will put “For Sale” signs in the yards of their “pocket listings.”
Are Real Estate For Sale Signs Worth the Risk?
For a top agent, the risk of having a For Sale sign in the front yard is well worth the potential benefits — as long as the seller is cautious. Although nationwide statistics for homebuyers who find their final sale through a real estate sign are slim, the increased traffic generated by the signs — especially in a busy neighbourhood — is enough to outweigh their potentially negative effects.
While putting up a Realtor’s sign in your front yard on your selling journey may seem quaint in our fast-paced digital age, it’s important to recognize the impact physical, tactile signs still have. Even though we can’t quantify their impact, For Sale signs have become housing market symbols that people know, recognize, and seek out when looking to buy a home.
And, for the time being, they appear to be here to stay.
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