May 3, 2016
By Alberto Sangalli
First of all, some people don't know what bandit signs are even after seeing them almost every day. On many street corners there are signs that are 18" x 24" or smaller that advertise everything from mattresses to homes for rent or for sale. These are referred to as bandit signs because generally they are illegal in most cities. There is even a national organization of anti-bandit signs city officials. Locally, one city actually will arrest someone seen putting these signs out. In other cities the code enforcement officers simply contact the telephone number on the sign to find the owner and give him a citation or fine. Investors go to extreme lengths to avoid being fined by using Google Voice® telephone numbers or throw-away cash cell phones. One of my most successful Students called me and as I spoke to him he seemed distracted. I asked what he was doing and he said he just got the bill for this month's bandit signs. I asked if he meant he bought them or he was paying someone to put them out for him. He said that he was paying his fines for this month that totaled $2,100. For him this is just an advertising cost not unlike a newspaper ad - just payable to the city. The lowly bandit sign has made millions and millions of dollars for real estate investors. So if they are illegal, the fines can be expensive and you could get arrested, why use them? The answer is very simple, they work wonders for finding buyers and sellers. As to buyers, we try and have every Student put out bandit signs in the neighborhood in which he got a property under contract. We have sold homes for as much as $770,000 and as little as $10,000 using a $2.00 bandit sign. One of my Students had had a bandit sign inside a neighborhood that he has had to replace because it faded twice and has resulted in his buying three homes! If you want to build your buyers list, one inexpensive way is to put bandit signs out for "ghost" properties. These are ones that do not exist or you had at one time but have since sold. When a buyer calls you get his email address and get him to opt-in to your email list. You can just add him to your email list but actually doing that could cost you more in fines than bandit signs because of Federal regulations against spamming. It is ten times more likely that another investor will take your bandit sign than a code enforcement officer; there is just no honor among some investors. Actually some investors even take others' signs and reuse them for their own advertising. The "H-frames" that hold the signs up are also prized by other investors. Tip - cut the 10" x 30" H-frames in half to save money and make your signs more wind resistant. Here are a few clues as to how to use bandit signs to accelerate your investing - Call every bandit sign you see and get on their mailing list for their wholesale deals as well as sending them your deals. Put them inside neighborhoods instead on the main drags. Use "ghost" properties to get buyers and other wholesalers. Put them in abandoned properties and in the back yards of these homes. Put them out consistently or pay someone to put them out for you. Get ready for phone calls!Hand-printed signs seem to do better than printed signs but both types depend on what the signs actually say - they can be for stopping foreclosure to rent-to-own properties and everything in between. Just remember, if you don't out them out they won't work.
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