As far as real estate agent cliches go, the real estate yard sign is right up there with the maroon blazer and overeager handshake. Real estate agents love yard signs and that’s that. Right?
Well, since real estate technology seems to be moving at the speed of light these days, we decided to take a fresh look at the humble real estate yard sign.
We put together a list of hot new design trends we’ve noticed in the industry, cool new technology, and all the latest bells and whistles that go along with them.
1. Changing the Entire Sign for Open Houses
Don’t get me wrong—sign riders are a great way to make your signs modular and save money on customizing signs. After all, your contact information might change, you might decide to direct people elsewhere, or you might change brokerages.
That said, sign riders are basically impossible to read from any reasonable distance. That means anyone just driving by will have no idea what your sign rider says. Instead, consider using a swing arm signpost that allows you to swap out the entire sign to advertise your open house, just sold property, or under contract status.
The whole point of your signs is to show the neighborhood how amazing your marketing is. A tiny little sign rider that is impossible to read won’t really cut it anymore.
2. Balloons (Should Be) Making a Comeback
While many agents think they’re too cool for school these days, smart agents drive traffic to their open houses with “cheesy” additions to their signs like balloons. Yes, balloons are a cliche, and yes, they do look kind of tacky.
But there is one very compelling reason to use them. Balloons are fun. Think of places where people carry balloons. Fairs, the circus, concerts, birthday parties, awards ceremonies—what do they all have in common?
If you’re really concerned about looking tacky or cheesy in a swanky neighborhood, match the balloons to your brand colors. Presto! Your open house now looks inviting and fun but also has a dash of class to keep the neighbors from giving you the side-eye.
3. Unique Vanity Numbers for Every Yard Sign
In any kind of marketing, tracking your progress is key to success. To track how many leads you’re getting from your real estate yard signs without awkwardly asking where they got your phone number, you’re going to need a unique vanity phone number for each one.
This strategy also works great for online marketing efforts as well. Grasshopper offers an amazing free trial with one vanity phone number and three extensions. Perfect for tracking leads from your signs!
4. Using Beacons to Beam Messages to Passersby
Whoever said all new technology would be cuddly and sweet? Beacons, electronic devices that send out messages to the cell phones of anyone passing by with Bluetooth on, are becoming more popular for open houses. It’s only a matter of time before they start being integrated into yard signs.
This pretty-looking sign sitting in the bushes above? Be careful, it just might beam a message to your phone without you even knowing it!
5. Real Estate Yard Signs & Posts With Unique Shapes & Materials
Let’s face it, some objects seem to disappear into the background in suburbia. Mailboxes, utility poles, and fire hydrants, to name a few. Should your yard sign be one of them?
In many communities, we might as well add the old standby white colonial post yard sign to that list. People are just used to pushing them into the periphery and ignoring them.
That’s why brokerages like Fresno Modern Real Estate have been injecting a little personality into their yard signs. They used a stylish, mid-century modern update on the boring post and a sleek stainless steel frame around the sign itself—definitely an eye-catcher.
They aren’t just a pretty shape either. Since Fresno Modern specializes in Mid-century Modern homes (think “Mad Men”), these signs are a subtle cue to passersby that something special from the past might be preserved right under their noses.
6. Using Technology to Transmit Information From Your Signs
If there is one brokerage that’s truly dedicated to innovation and disruption, it’s Compass. Growing from a scrappy Manhattan-only startup (remember the red backpacks?), they’ve grown to be a dominant force in luxury real estate across the country.
The main reason they grew so quickly? Unlike virtually every other brokerage they were competing with, Compass invested heavily in technology and branding.
That made the humble old yard sign fair game for Compass’s team of designers and technologists.
In addition to its unusual and compelling shape, Compass signs offer high-tech gadgetry for nosy neighbors. If they have the Compass app, they will get beamed the listing data immediately when approaching the sign. If not, there is a prominent QR code that will encourage them to download it.
Agents can use their own apps on the other end to pull insights from potential buyers, swap out content, and make sure the listing info is up to date.
Even better, Compass signs have a clever solution to the Achilles heel of even the best real estate sign in neighborhoods with few street lights—darkness! Instead of a clamp-on light, Compass chose a highly welcoming and futuristic-looking illuminated circle of LED lighting.
7. Lighting Up Your Real Estate Yard Signs at Night
OK, here’s a little secret. Since we’re living in the age of Amazon and global supply chains, outdoor illumination on the cheap isn’t just reserved for well-heeled brokers anymore. Anyone with a little bit of DIY knowledge can (and should) illuminate their yard signs at night … if the local HOA allows it, of course.
You can either buy solar yard spike lights and shine them on the sign or buy ready-made solutions like the ones on offer from enlogik or other illuminated sign providers.
8. Mansions Need Real Estate Signs Too
In the age of Instagram influencers and pocket listings, some people assume that luxury real estate agents scoff at using tacky old real estate yard signs to advertise their listings.
The reality is quite different. Yes, if you took a drive around the Bird Streets in Beverly Hills or Manhattan’s Gold Coast (think Park Avenue), you won’t see many giant yard signs or balloons announcing open houses, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
The problem is that many exclusive neighborhoods put strict limitations on the size and placement of yard signs, and for good reason. Think of the garish billboards that would go up if marketers had a chance to influence passing billionaires.
That said, mansions are still houses, and signs still help get them sold:
Beverly Hills Realtor Rochelle Maize broke it down for us:
“There is no doubt that social media has changed the way agents sell real estate. I am personally a huge fan of Instagram as one way to get the word out about a home. That said, I think yard signs still work too. In Beverly Hills, we are only allowed one sign in front, but I often get calls from buyers just walking or driving by!”
9. Using Signs to Show Off Your Tech-savvy
Who says that bleeding-edge technology like Bitcoin can only exist in your Slack channel or your broker’s Gmail inbox? Even the most reclusive tech nerd needs to occasionally head out of the house for Mountain Dew or Soylent.
When they do, imagine how pleasantly surprised they might be to see a sign like this advertising revolutionary blockchain technology like Bitcoin on a humble yard sign?
Who knows, it might just be enough to get them to give you a call. OK, maybe not a call, but they might send you a snap, Insta, tweet, or Slack message. Phones are so 2010.
10. Sometimes Old School Is the Only Choice
While light-up signs, QR codes, and beacons are most certainly cool, some properties demand the respect of traditional signage. Turn-of-the-century mansions, stately Victorians, horse farms, and estates with winding driveways would all look silly staked out with flashy new signs festooned with tech baubles and bright lights … not to mention the draconian homeowners’ associations (HOAs) in many wealthy areas.
After all, the marketing needs to reflect the product, right? When in doubt, you can never, ever lose with well-designed traditional signage. In urban areas, that includes flags like the parade-worthy example from Christie’s International below.
11. Using Humor on Real Estate Signs
Sometimes to get your message out there, you need to cut through the static. Cell phones, endless Facebook posts, ever more tribal political bickering … to keep from losing it, most people just tune out anything that isn’t critical to their lives—especially when they’re driving.
There is, however, one proven way to cut through. Humor. Everyone loves to laugh, and a well-placed joke can literally make someone’s day.
That means jokes can sometimes work well on real estate signs. Frustrated buyers and sellers might call you just to say they get the joke and appreciate your levity in an otherwise dreary and adversarial process.
The only problem is making sure your client is on board, and the joke is a funny one.
12. Thinking Outside the Sign
While there is little dispute that real estate yard signs help drive nosy neighbors to your listing, there is some dispute about what a sign has to be.
San Francisco’s Climb Real Estate used an eyeball-grabbing silver Airstream trailer as a sign to draw in curious San Franciscans and Oaklanders. Inside they would find a friendly Climb agent ready to answer all their burning questions about buying, selling, or renting real estate in the city.
While it wouldn’t quite work parked outside your listing overnight (unless you’re a night owl, that is), it’s a great way to help you think outside the sign when planning your listing signage.
Over to You
What do you think of the current state of real estate yard signs? Do you think they’re destined to be banned by HOAs and replaced fully by tech, or do they still have a place in modern real estate marketing?