Bandit Sign messages, whats effective?

Hi everyone,

This question is geared towards investors out there thats using or have used bandit signs to market their services. I was wondering what would be an effective message because i know theres alot of different types out there and since this is my first attempt at the bandit sign marketing, i was wondering which message i should use.

We take over payments
Phone number

2.C A S H
for your
phone number

  1. WE BUY
    phone number
    No equity! no problem!

I live in California and new to REI. I plan to do a Lease Option with any motivated seller that calls. Anyone that has been successful using bandit signs, can you please tell me what worked best for you? any feedback given will be appreciated, thanks in advance.


Glad to meet you.

The important thing about your marketing efforts is branding, for instance if I say “Golden Arches” who do you think of even though I did not say the name of the company.

The same goes for how your bandit signs, post cards, flyers, mailers, print advertising, etc, goes.

For many years I have used:

$Cash Now$
I Buy Houses

I don’t need to remind people they are behind in payments, have no equity, or I will take over payments, or they are in foreclosure they already are aware of this fact.

My branding is $Cash Now$ it says it all and is easy to understand by anyone who needs cash now.

John $Cash Now$ Locke


With signs, a vanity # can be really useful. By this I mean a phone # like 555-CASH. Someone may see the sigh very briefly and you want them to easily remember your number.

Also, a sign is basically a headline and a call to action. Come up with a powerful headline that flags your audience and entices them to want to know more.

In my area, “WE BUY HOUSES, FAST, CASH” is on signs everywhere. It is overused. It does not set you apart. Also, I think this is a message for junker houses. For pretty houses, the message is unbelievable and a lot of people think they will have to take a HUGE discount and don’t call.

Maybe try something like Richard Roop’s headline:

“Sell your house ‘AS IS’, at a fair price, on the date of your choice.”

Good luck,



My branding has always been $Cash Now$ I use it in my print ads, television ads, radio ads, direct mail, etc, so people know this is the guy who buys houses.

I know that a person has 7 seconds to read a billboard, so copy on a bill board must be held to a minimum for good readership.

I am thinking about a small bandit sign, are you suggesting that someone place this amount of copy on a bandit sign plus a phone number? I am also looking at the branding aspects of your copy as well, what would you consider this is, in your copy?

I think you will find that the four digits denoting “cash” in a telephone number has been gone for many years.

“Sell your house ‘AS IS’, at a fair price, on the date of your choice.”

John $Cash$ Locke


Both the headline and the vanity number that I gave were examples simply to illustrate a couple points.

I agree that the copy on a sign has to read and remembered quickly.

Having a vanity phone # helps accomplish this. Perhaps the phone # with “cash” in it is is taken (although I actually acquired # with CASH in it just last year) but there are numerous other possibilities (e.g. 555-SELL, 5NO-AGENT, etc.)

As for the headline example, I was trying to point out an alternate angle than the typical “WE BUY HOUSES” message. If you use that message in my area then there is certainly no branding because everyone uses that exact same message.

Also, you are right have to make your message brief on a sign and so the headline I gave would have to be played with to fit that media. Although, with a 2’x3’ sign it might be feasible.

As for branding, I am a subscriber to the Dan Kennedy school of marketing thought which states simply:

“Direct response is the primary objective. Image is sacrificed for impact. Brand-building, if it occurs, is a happy by-product, not the purpose.”

I am not discounting the value of branding, just that it is a strategy that is most effectively used as a primary objecive by those who have lots of money and patience such as the Fortune 500 (a la the “golden arches” you mentioned).

Now, I am certainly not one to question something that is working so I hope you didn’t feel like I was simply contradicting your method, rather just stating my experience and philosophy.

Thanks for your feedback,


On banditsigns the We buy houses type message pulls 2 to 1 compared to the sell your house type message… for buying houses…

I’m actually fixing to do another test here in the near future…

The Sell your house thing… isnt strong enough… and comes across as a realtor…

David Alexander

David’s comments prove a very important point…

It is crucial to do your own testing. Numbers in terms of response (and more importantly sales/deals) resulting from your marketing are far more important than any opinion.

Test results should take precedence over your opinion or that of anyone else. When someone tells me they have a great marketing idea or that something is working “really well” for them, I ask what the numbers are.

I am curious, Dave. What was the “Sell Your House…” message that you tested?

I still think that there could be a sign headline other than “We Buy Houses” that works better. Again, my reasons are:

  1. “We Buy Houses” is plastered everywhere in my area.

  2. It is “we-centric”. I’d like to find a headline that is “you-focused” with a strong benefit.

  3. I hear people say that they don’t call on that headline because they are skeptical. They only believe it is for “fixers”. This occurs enough to concern me. This could be specific to me area though.

This is all mostly personal bias, however, without numbers such as Dave has offered. Although, point #3 is based on feedback from people.

Just a few thoughts for the sake of discussion.

Jason Van Orden

I BUY HOUSES and WE BUY HOUSES is actually more You focused…

Because the recipient reading it says… maybe they’ll buy my house…

Where as the Sell Your House… (unless it has a very strong sub headline… for instance… Today, in 48 hours… for full price, etc… etc… Doesnt have the pull) at least not with banditsigns… which is my expertise…

Now for print stuff… it may well work incredible…

I agree with you… if you can find another headline… then that would be great…

But, the reality it… In the house business we ain’t out buying a house a day… and for most a house or two a month is more than enough pull…

So, you don’t need some sensational marketing… just something that works well and is repeatable with consistentcy…

For me that answer was banditsigns…

You can argue that you need alot of different things in the market to buy houses… all forms marketing… Like lots of different bait in the water… That’s true for msot businesses… But, the house business is different…

Again the reality is… in the house business… you only need to buy typically… 2 houses a month… some folks build their businesses to a little bigger… we used to buy 8 a month… But, the reality is again… it doesnt take that much money or marketing to buy a few houses a month… especially when you are experienced enough… to screen well on the phone and get other time wasters out of the way…

David Alexander

About building Brand, you are not looking for repeat business. You also don’t want to do a lot of testing. What is being used most for the longest time in your area is working for the guy using it. It will also work for you. DON’T fall in love with the sign copy. You need to mimic that copy. Let the last poor slob wade through all the test and rewrite stuff. When the homeowner has just recieved a call from the mortgage collector and is stressed out heading for the store to by a newspaper and pack of cigarettes, he will see your sign and he will call. He is not going to ride around for days reading all the signs to pick the one he is most impressed with.

Speaking of focused or targeted marketing -

Has anybody here posted bandit signs in the neighborhoods where known pre-foreclosure houses are located? That is, on streets surrounding houses where notices of default or lis pendens have been published? If so, has it produced a phone call from the defaulted homeowners?