The pros (and cons) of using a for sale sign on your home

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We have all driven through our favorite neighborhood and slammed on the brakes when we see a for sale sign in a front lawn. Even if you’re just daydreaming, it’s nice to know your options. Luckily for people selling their home, there are plenty of potential buyers on the market who aren’t daydreaming and fully intend to buy a home. 

It’s easy to see how a for sale sign catches the attention of potential buyers. But do you really need one?

According to the National Association of Realtors, the first step 41% of buyers take in the home buying process is to look for properties online, followed by contacting a real estate agent (19%). While a for sale sign is no longer likely to be a seller’s primary marketing tactic, there are some benefits associated with them. Read on for more insight into for sale signs. 

Do you need a ‘for sale’ sign up when selling?

There is no requirement that states a homeowner has to put a for sale sign in their yard, but it is customary to do so. If someone is trying to sell their home quietly, they may not want to draw attention to the fact that they plan to sell their home and move. If it’s a hot market for sellers, they may not feel the need to have a for sale sign since their real estate agent will list their home on the MLS that all real estate agents can see and online home sales websites that consumers can check out.

In some cases, HOAs have restrictions surrounding for sale signs. Some HOAs may not allow them in the yard at all and others may have rules regarding size and placement of the signs. 

Types of for sale signs

Before we dive into what the advantages and disadvantages of for sale signs are, let’s take a closer look at the different types of for sale signs that you or your real estate agent might utilize. 

  • For sale by owner signs: If you choose to sell your home without the help of a real estate agent (this is an option, but is a lot more work), you can purchase a “for sale by owner” sign at a hardware store, office supply store, or online. 
  • Real estate agent for sale signs: More commonly, you’ll come across real estate agents for sale signs. Both types of signs are usually made of plastic with metal stakes that you can pound into the ground, but you may see some that are sandwich boards or that hang from a sign post.

You will typically place for sale signs in the front yard of the home, on the sidewalk near the home, or at the entrance of the neighborhood. Your real estate agent may choose to put other signs in the surrounding community on days you have open houses, to point potential buyers in the right direction. 

What to include on a for sale sign 

The following information is typically included on a for sale sign to get the most bang for your buck. 

  • Name of the brokerage
  • Agent's name and phone number
  • Office phone number with area code
  • Website URL
  • Company logo
  • Brokerage address

In addition to the main for sale sign, some real estate agents add a smaller sign to the top or bottom of the main sign so they can include additional information such as:

  • URL or QR code for viewing a virtual tour
  • Open house schedule
  • The listing price
  • Recent price reductions
  • Neighborhood slogan
  • Buyer benefits (such as a home warranty)
  • Co-agent's name and phone number
  • Home features (like number of bedrooms)

Pros and cons of putting up a for sale sign

Before you break out the hammer and nails, let’s look at some of the pros and cons of putting up a for sale sign when selling your home.

Pros of for sale signs

  • Encourages word of mouth: If you are eager to sell your home, you want the word to spread. When neighbors see a for sale sign in front of your home they may alert friends and family that are looking to buy of the opportunity. 
  • For sale signs are eye-catching: Visitors driving through your neighborhood may find themselves wanting to take a look at your home if they’re in the market. Some potential buyers even drive around neighborhoods they’re interested in with the hopes of coming across these signs.
  • Makes it easy for potential buyers to find your home: When buyers come for an open house, a sign makes it easy for them to find the home (which is especially helpful in a sea of nearly identical homes in a planned community). The last thing you want is for buyers to arrive confused and flustered. 

Cons of for sale signs

  • Less popular than online listings: These days online listings play a much more important role in the home sale process than for sale signs do. Investing time and energy in taking good photos for an online listing goes a lot farther than a for sale sign. Open houses even happen virtually nowadays, so it’s important to prioritize digital marketing tactics. 
  • For sale signs can cause concerns: If a prospective buyer sees too many for sale signs in a neighborhood they may have concerns about why so many people are leaving the neighborhood. These signs also add a cluttered look to the neighborhood. While one sign doesn’t cause much harm, it’s easy to see why some HOAs ban them.
  • Less privacy: If you have nosey neighbors or for whatever reason want to keep your sale on the down low, a for sale sign may attract a lot of attention to you and your home. 

Talk to your real estate agent and your HOA about your options for having a for sale sign in your front lawn. If the HOA prohibits signage, you can simply move on. Don’t sweat it too much if a sign isn’t allowed in your neighborhood. Nowadays, the online listing plays a much more impactful role than any amount of for sale signs can. 

That all being said, if your HOA (or lack of one) allows for sale signs, not much harm comes from having one in your front yard.

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