Much to the chagrin of local councils, For Sale boards still litter towns and cities across the UK. But are these signs a relic of a bygone age – a defunct comfort blanket that agents cling to unnecessarily - or are they still an important weapon in the property-marketing armoury? We shoot down a few myths below…
Going by the boards
Whether For Sale boards are still valuable is one of the industry’s recurring questions. They used to be a no-brainer – the primary way of telling people that a property was available – but the rise of online property portals has changed the landscape.
Portals like Rightmove can attract over 150 million visitors per month. For Sale signs, on the other hand, have a much smaller reach. Hundreds might see a board if it’s located near a busy road but it's likely to be far less if the property’s out in the sticks. In fact, you might find that more sheep and cows see it than people.
Oh so awkward
There’s no doubt that property professionals love boards. They help agents to establish a presence around town, build their brand, and ultimately win more instructions. However, the general public think differently. Some believe For Sale signs are an eyesore and others consider them tacky; therefore a prominent For Sale board can annoy a seller’s neighbours.
What’s more, Brits have traditionally valued their privacy and don’t necessarily like telling the world that they’re looking to move. Sadly a board can get local gossipmongers talking and this often leads to awkward conversations with the folks next door.
Considering the above, it’s easy for sellers to talk themselves out of plonking a board at the front of their manicured front garden. However, should they really put all their eggs in the property portal basket? After all, there’s a reason why our towns and cities are still littered with boards: they just work.
A significant proportion of interested buyers are usually local people. A board therefore tells an important target market that a property is for sale. And it will be out there, working for the seller, 24/7 come rain or shine. It’s a bit of a hero when you put it like that.
For Sale signs also get local people talking. You know the gossip that sellers were so afraid of? It might actually lead a buyer to their door. Word of mouth is (and always has been) a terrific marketing aid.
Portal power has its limits
The Internet is great but it does have its weaknesses. For example, portals like Rightmove and Zoopla make searches very specific. People hone in on certain areas so they might miss a property entirely if it’s just outside the catchment area they’re focusing on.
It’s also worth remembering that nothing beats seeing properties in the flesh. Online photos and virtual viewings don’t always do homes justice. They don’t convey a home’s true curb appeal and they don’t show homes within the surrounding streetscape.
It’s quite possible, therefore, that potential buyers could rule out a property when they see it online but change their mind when they see it in the flesh. A For Sale board draws attention to this property when they’re in the area viewing other homes.
Maximise your reach
Whilst some buyers are desperate to move and proactively check the property portals every day, some buyers are far more laidback. In fact, some buyers might not have considered moving at all until they see a particular property that piques their interest.
This spontaneous interest often starts when they see a For Sale board. They might simply love the look of a property. Or it might be located in a street they’ve always fancied or a position that’s close to friends and family. Every property journey has a different starting point. And signs are often the catalyst.
Get on board
There’s no denying that For Sale signs aren’t as vital as they once were. However, they still have an important role to play. It’s all about maximising the chances of finding a buyer. All exposure is good exposure so why not utilise all the tools at your disposal?
Although the property world is becoming increasingly digitised, traditional techniques can still deliver the goods. For Sale signs can therefore play a similar role to photographs in an agent’s window. You never know when a passer-by might see a home, lick their lips, and decide to have a little nibble.
What’s more, boards also have their practical uses: they help potential buyers to find homes before viewings. For Sale signs often play a role in the pre-viewing process, too. Many buyers like to do a ‘drive by’ to see if a house fits the bill before they make an appointment. A board acts like a signpost for the property.
Finally, your agent will know that anyone who books a viewing after seeing a board is a hot prospect that’s genuinely interested in a home. It’s easy for any old Tom, Dick or Harry to view a home online. But those interested after seeing it from the curb are most likely to make you and your seller as happy as Larry.