Psst. New Agents. Yeah, you. The odds of someone waltzing into your open house this Sunday and buying this place are slim to none. You might as well pack up early and head to the beach instead of dealing with a bunch of nosy neighbors then right? Wrong. Repeat after me:
Nosy Neighbors = Future Clients
Every single person who walks through that door is a future client. Every single person is a chance to expand your sphere of influence in your farm area. Since nosy neighbors aren’t on your email list (yet) or following your listings on Zillow, the next best way to get them through the door is with great open house signs.
In this article you’ll learn how to use signs strategically to drive traffic to your open house. You’ll learn what kinds of signs are on the market today and when to use them, tips for visibility and legibility, how to generate leads from your signs, where to put signs for the biggest impact, and what signs every realtor needs in their arsenal. Let’s get started.
Different Open House Signs + When to Use Them
Pros: Sturdy and easy to store/set up. Can customize with sign riders.
Cons: A bit low to the ground so visibility is a bit limited. Not anchored to the ground. May need sandbags/waterbags to stabilize them on windy days. .
When to Use them: Since they are easy to transport and can be customized with sign riders A frame signs make great all purpose open house signs.
Pros: Height. They can be seen from blocks away. They also draw attention by fluttering in the wind.
Cons: Text needs to be written vertically to fit on flags.
When to use them: Feather flags are perfect for listings in with tall hedges, bushes or other things that may obscure an A frame sign. They are also perfect for urban areas where an A frame wouldn’t be visible due to parked cars.
Directional signs – Directional signs are arrow shaped signs that you place along the route to your open house to guide people to your listing. In pre-smartphone/GPS days, directional signs were crucial to help people find your open house.
Since the vast majority of homebuyers and buyer’s agents will get directions from their car’s navigation system or smartphone, directional signs have become a bit less important for open houses.
That said, they are still a great way to advertise your open house to people who will never see your yard signs.
Pros: Advertises your open house to a larger audience that may never pass by your open house sign. Can also be custom branded.
Cons: Most people planning on coming to your open house will either know the neighborhood or use navigation software to get to your listing.
When to use them: Directional signs can be a great way to advertise your open house to people that may never drive by your main signs. Use them when your listing is on a quiet or rural street, or whenever you want to get as much traffic to your listing as possible. AKA always.
Pros: Height. Movement. They also remind people of parties.
Cons: A little bit cheesy. Maybe not great for super high end listings.
When to use them: Balloons should be used whenever you want to draw as much attention as possible to your open house.
“Who can ignore a balloon when you see it driving by? It gets attention, and for me the height of them makes signs easier to see in the neighborhoods I’m directing the buyers to” Linda Weber – Realtor from Cook County Illinois
Sign Riders – Sign riders are small signs that can be added to your larger sign to add information like open house times, “just sold” etc. They can be used along with balloons to personalize your open house sign. Very helpful if you decide to set up your signage a day early!
Pros: Can customize signs on the fly.
Cons: Smaller text than other options.
When to use them: Sign riders are great for areas that have limits on the height of temporary signage, or if you want to limit your open house to potential buyer’s and buyer agents only. If your exclusive is about to expire for example, you want to to devote as much attention as possible to buyers instead of fishing for new leads.
How to Place Open House Signs to Maximize Visibility and Legibility
The goal of any open house sign is to convince people to come inside and walk through the house. If people driving by can’t see your sign or can’t read your sign quickly enough, then their chances of stopping, parking and coming in for a chat are slim.
Open house signs should be placed as prominently as possible on your listing. In front of a mailbox, at the edge of a driveway, or at the edge of the lawn are all great places to put your open house signs.
To make sure they are visible from the street, after placing your signs try driving down the block at a speed people would normally drive them to see if they catch your eye. If they don’t, you need to find a new place to put them or use a taller sign and/or balloons.
For most people, this will probably be a last second decision. They weren’t planning on going to an open house that afternoon, but well, your open house sign piqued their curiosity and they made a spur of the moment decision to come inside. This is why you need to ensure your signs are not only highly visible, but also readable from a distance.
Broker and trainer Melissa Zavala agrees:
“Standing 30 feet from the sign, can you read your name and phone number? If your answer is no,then you need to make a change.Every yard sign needs to seen from far away. Fonts need to be large and created in colors that are easy to read from a distance.”
As long as they are highly visible and easy to read from a distance you can design your signs any way you want. Some realtors purchase signs that are already branded with the colors and logo of their brokerage, while other brokers purposefully choose more generic signage.
Branded signage can work very well in more expensive neighborhoods, but some realtors believe they may turn off bargain hunters in more affordable areas. When in doubt, always go with branded signage. Think of it as free advertising to your farm area.
Where to Place Open House Signs to Drive More Traffic
Your main open house sign should be placed prominently on the front lawn so that someone driving by can see it and read it quickly. If the lawn is obscured by a fence or bushes, then you should place the sign right before the driveway in front of the mailbox.
In heavily wooded areas, visibility from a distance can become an issue. In this case feather flags or standard A frame signs with balloons can help people see your sign from much farther away.
Where to Place Directional Open House Signs to Drive More Traffic
Since so many people have navigation in their cars these days, many agents don’t bother with directional open house signs anymore. This is a big mistake. Think about it. If you only have one sign, even a highly visible feather flag with balloons, the only people who will ever see it are people who drive down the block. Unless you’re on a main road, very few people will ever see your sign.
Houston realtor John Nguyen uses directional signs complemented by a feather flag:
“In order to use them effectively, they must be complemented at the “finish line” (where the house or property is) with something eye catching and inviting. I use a 15′ pole flag sign and another direction stake sign stating “COME ON IN!”
Here’s what John’s signage looks like at one of his listings. The feather flag gives him height, and the A frame has more information for people who are curious. Perfect!
More signs = more traffic
If you have signs on 7 or 8 nearby streets and on a few different nearby intersections, your signs will be seen by more people. The more people that see your signs, the greater the chance that one of them will want to come to your open house.
Some agents put up directional signs at every major intersection within a 5 block radius of their open house. While this may seem like overkill to some, not to mention a lot of work, these agents greatly increase traffic to their open houses.
You should also place directional signs along routes to your open house that have easy to miss street signs, or are heavily wooded. While the majority of homebuyers and buyer’s agents will have navigation in their cars, helpful signs will show them you care.
David Hosterman is a mortgage lender from Colorado who regularly holds open houses uses dozens of signs per open house:
“We have a sign placement company we work with to drop about 30 – 50 signs surrounding the area to help drive traffic to the open house . These signs are bright yellow and black which are very eye catching for people driving by and the signs definitely catch their interest. The color scheme of black and yellow has been proven to be more effective than other colors. Sign placement is critical, as it has shown that better and increased placement drives substantially more traffic in comparison to a standard open house with only a few signs.”
When should you put them up?
While the temptation to put up branded signs a few days in advance might be tempting, keep in mind that local compliance officers, homeowners, busybodies, or teenagers might take down or even vandalize your signs if you leave them out overnight. That said, code compliance officers generally don’t work on the weekends, so if you put your signs up on Friday evening, you’ll get impressions all day Saturday and on your open house day on Sunday.
Use Your Open House Signs to Gather Leads.
Let’s face it, some people who see your signs may be curious about your open house, but not curious enough to actually walk through the door. You can capture these leads by using a mobile lead capture service like realbird, textmarks, or voicepad. Here’s how they work:
Mobile lead capture services add a QR code or text number to your signs that gives your leads a chance to get more information about the listing by text message. Pretty cool.
Where to Buy Open House Signs
I always recommend buying locally whenever possible, but if there are no good local sources for signs, we recommend Oakley Signs and Graphics. Oakley price matches any other online vendor, has fast turnaround time, money back guarantees, and is a Keller Williams Approved Vendor. They also have templates and branding for all of the top 25 real estate firms in the country. They also have great reviews on Activerain.
How Many Signs Should You Own?
This is going to vary for every realtor, but at a bare minimum you should have enough to cover every exclusive listing you plan on having at once. I would think three or four feather flags and A frames and a few dozen directional signs would be enough to keep in stock for most realtors.
Make sure you have permission
Local ordinances can vary. Your Realtors association, local government, HOA or other organization may have specific rules regarding where, what type and how many signs you can place around your open house. Some ordinances specifically prohibit balloons, others limit the size of all signs. When in doubt, ask.
Asking for permission to put up a directional open house sign on someone’s property can even be a great way to meet the neighbors and invite them to the open house!
Valencia California realtor Tracey Hampson agrees:
“I always ask for permission if I’m placing a sign on someone’s lawn or corner lot. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it’s also a great way to meet the neighbors and personally invite them to the open house.”
The Bottom Line
While many realtors (rightly) focus their marketing efforts online, properly used open house signs can be a great way to attract people into your sphere who would otherwise never see your listings.