1988 Called.  It Wants Its Sign Riders Back.

1988 Called. It Wants Its Sign Riders Back.

There is nothing the Real Estate industry loves more than a good cliche.  The more hackneyed the slogan, the more likely we are to roll it into our marketing campaigns.  Take the expressions which appear on an old industry stalwart, the sign rider, with frightening regularity.  Intended to separate a listed house from the herd, many of the verbal gutterballs instead relegate their hapless charges to the back of the pack.  You’ve seen the repeat offenders and mocked not only their stunning lack of originality, but more to the point, their inability to inspire … well … anything within your consumptive little heart.

If you will humor the presumption, I’d bet my license that my attendant impressions from the following gambits jive with those of today’s buyer to the tee.

“I’m Beautiful Inside” is henceforth redubbed “Coyote Ugly from the Street,” or “Look Past My Goiter and Love Me For Me.”

“Very Special!” is not outwardly off-putting, but it carries a stunning lack of associative context.  While I happen to be very special to my mother, the man on the street just might cut my throat for the eight bucks in my wallet.  If one can’t think of anything in particular that is worthwhile about the property, “Very Special” seems to fit the vanilla bill.

The insecure younger sister to the first member of our list, “I’m Gorgeous!” is a tired refrain from a house who doth protest too much.  When was the last time that the person who regaled you for hours on end with tales of a jet-setting fashion model’s life was a true American beauty?  It just doesn’t happen.  Such a lovely has learned that his/her stunning visage requires no hyperbolic self-aggrandizement. This house, on the other hand, is the eight foot sasquatch with bad skin who won’t shut up about herself.

“Terms” – While agents generally know this to mean there may be some kind of owner financing available, this one is just patently confusing to the general public.  Of course there are terms.  Whether you are selling a home or Pet Rock, all transferences of ownership come with terms.  Such as, “You pay X, I give you house.”

“Voted First On Tour!” – Congratulations, you beat out two other houses for the distinct honor.  Seriously, if the agent’s colleagues were so taken with the home, where is the procession of buyers?  My first reaction to such a proclamation is to surmise that the home has hung around the market long enough to make it into a tour lineup.  Must be overpriced.

“Pool” – What else needs to be said?  Some might argue that isolating any one feature of the home is pointless without the rest of the details, but I say who cares how many bedrooms, bathrooms, square feet, etc this home has?  It has “Pool.”

“Extra Special!” – Oh snap!  Take that “Very Special!”

“Pride of Ownership!” – For every abortion of a house out there, there is a proud homeowner.  Shoot, that same owner is likely just as proud of his forty year old kid who still lives in the basement.  Forgive me if I don’t lean too heavily on the hubris of persons unknown.

“Original Owner” – The decor has remained hermetically sealed within this time capsule since 1958.  Forensic anthropologists will break down the door in the year 2200 to study the long-term effects of asbestos on shag carpeting.

“Won’t Last!” – Wanna bet?

“Look Here >>>” – I love this one.  I mean, I absolutely love this one.  If you somehow managed to notice the evidently insufficient “For Sale” sign, you are prompted to look at it.  By a rider whose visibility requires you are already looking at it.  A paradoxical delight.

“Neighborhood Specialist” – Silly me.  Here I thought the idea was to promote the house.

I ridicule the use of trite slogans on Real Estate sign riders only because I have been there, done that.  I am not exempt from this carnival of pie-throwing derision.  At some point along my professional arc, I have tried just about every silly rider there is to get the attention of passersby.  Through trial and error, I have come to realize the only one that is consistently effective is a website address.  Rather than trying to sell a home in one to three words, it’s best to utilize that space to send prospective buyers somewhere they can get all of the property details.  Properly designed, said website will catch your fly in a sticky web of additional buyer tools and resources.  The idea is to keep them coming back for more, with your home top of mind all the while.  Don’t tell a buyer how beautiful you are inside as they pass by, direct them to a resource which shows them in painstaking detail.  Don’t distill the core value of the home all the way down to “Pool.”  Funnel them to a place where the pool, 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, upgraded kitchen, hardwood floors, new A/C and half acre lot share equal billing. This is how you best leverage a rider to trade up to its penultimate incarnation: “SOLD!”

Or you can continue to try to reel them in with your “Carpet Allowance!”

Your choice.


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