Updated: Jun 7, 2020
What Are They Called?
You see them all over the streets. As you're driving to get groceries, picking up your kids, going out to the movies. No matter what you do, no matter where you go. You see them:
"WE BUY HOUSES! CASH! Call Me Now, or The World Will Explode!!!"
Right? Can you not think of at least 20 you've seen today?
These signs are all over the place, and they probably aren't going away anytime soon.
But what are they exactly?
They're called bandit signs, and we're about to take a deep dive into:
What they are
Who puts them up
And what you should expect from them
Who Puts Up Those We Buy Houses Signs?
A big question is always:
"Who exactly puts those signs up?"
Primarily, there are two types of individuals that would be responsible for plastering these signs all over town.
Real Estate Wholesalers
Real estate wholesalers are the most likely culprit. Wholesalers are individuals who set out to find one thing, and one thing only.
Cheap real estate!
They can do so in a variety of ways.
They may send out mailers
They may make phone calls
Or, they may post up bandit signs promising fast cash
Real estate wholesalers use these signs with the hopes of getting what's known as "motivated sellers" to call them directly.
Motivated sellers are homeowners who may find themselves in a sticky situation.
Maybe they recently went through a divorce
Perhaps they are facing foreclosure
Or they can't afford costly repairs needed on the property
Whatever the case, motivated sellers are people who need to sell their house to relieve a headache they've been dealing with, and that's precisely who these "We Buy Houses" signs are targeting.
What is the wholesaler's goal? - Simple.
The wholesaler is attempting to buy property at a deep discount so they can immediately sell it to another investor who has the money to fix it up and flip it or turn it into a rental.
Real Estate Investors
Real estate investors who buy, renovate, and either sell or rent out properties may also be responsible for putting out these "We Buy Houses" signs.
A real estate investor will put these signs out for the same reason as a wholesaler.
To attract motivated sellers to call the number and see if they can buy their house for cash.
It may sound like calling a real estate investor and calling a wholesaler are the same thing, but they can lead to very different experiences.
Wholesalers can often be individuals who are interested in real estate investing but don't have the money or experience necessary to buy properties directly.
This isn't always the case, and there are certainly wholesalers out there who are very good at working with homeowners to help them sell their homes for cash.
But from what I've seen, a lot of wholesalers are novices who still have a lot to learn about real estate. So if a number from a sign leads you to a wholesaler, you may be disappointed.
They may not be able to help you due to a lack of experience.
Real estate investors with experience and capital are in a much better position to buy a house from a seller that calls them up.
If you call a number off a sign and get in touch with a professional real estate investor, you will be in much better hands.
Be sure to vet the investor, though.
Ask to see any testimonials from homeowners they've worked within the past, and ask which properties they've recently bought and sold. Then go check out the properties online using a site like Zillow or Trulia.
What Should You Expect If You Call A "We Buy Houses" Sign?
Now we've discussed who puts these signs up, but what should you expect if you decide to call one up?
I've never personally called up a sign, but I've heard a lot of people talk about how they will get no answer, and often not even a callback.
Maybe the person who put the signs out soon after gave up?
If you decide to call:
You may get through to a real person.
You may connect with a pre-recorded message that gives you information on what to do next.
Or you may be asked to leave some information about your house in the form of a message.
My money is on you will get no answer and no callback, or a pre-recorded message.
From there, whoever is on the other end of the line will do a quick evaluation of the house in question to see if they are interested.
If they are interested, the most likely next step is they will ask you if they can come out and view the house.
Next, they will make you an offer, and you can either accept, decline, or counter it.
Where Are They Commonly Put Up?
You will often see "We Buy Houses" signs put up in heavily-trafficked areas. After all, the more people who see them, the more opportunities the person on the other side has to get a phone call.
You might see them at traffic lights
Walmart parking lots
Or anywhere there is usually heavy congestion
Sometimes the people who put them up will try to be slick and put the signs up at the end of the day Friday, and take them down at the end of the day Sunday.
Why do they do that, though? We're about to get to that.
Are "We Buy Houses Signs" Legal?
Bandit signs are not legal in most municipalities. Probably all of them at this point, but don't quote me on that.
Sometimes people will put them out anyway, knowing they are illegal. At most, they will face a fine.
But some people are honestly unaware they are illegal. After all, you see them all over the place, so I can see why others would think they are okay to put out.
As mentioned above, some people will put them up and remove them at certain times to try and avoid code enforcement. And others may put them up and roll the dice.
Some people will go as far as to not care about getting a fine, because the deal they get from the sign is worth more than said fine!
Are They Legit or Scams?
Unfortunately, you can run into scams all over the place. The real estate industry is no exception. You can certainly run into unscrupulous people on the other end of the phone.
On the flip side, there are many investors and wholesalers out there who are genuinely out to connect with home sellers to purchase their homes. But there's no way to know off of a hand-written black and yellow sign.
The only way to find out for sure is to call the sign and see what happens. But there is a better way, keep reading to find out what it is.
How Are They Made?
The "We Buy Houses" signs you usually see are cheaply made. Often you will see people who take a black marker and write on a large piece of paper. You've seen them all:
We buy houses, cash!
Sell your house for cash!
Cash for houses!
Or my favorite, a spammy one with a million money signs
$$$ We $$ Buy $$ Houses For $$ Fast $$$CASH$$$
Yeah, I know. It's tacky at best. But whichever one you see, all bandit signs are designed to lead you to the same kind of person.
Sometimes those who put up the signs will have them ordered on a thicker, sturdier piece of plastic to help the signs survive the elements.
I will usually hear people say:
"If you can't afford a nice sign, how can you afford to buy my house?"
In the case of wholesalers, where they don't buy your house, and instead assign their contract to another investor for a quick profit, they don't need to afford to buy your home.
But if it's a rehabber/investor who put up the sign, they can afford to buy despite the cheap marketing tactics.
How Much Will They Offer Me?
How much the person on the other side of the sign will offer will vary. If it's a traditional wholesaler, they will probably offer you a little less than an investor.
An investor will likely offer you a bit more money than a wholesaler, and their offer will reflect the condition of the house.
The better shape your house is in, the higher the offer will be. The worse shape the house is in, the lower the offer will be.
An investor takes on a large amount of risk when buying a home to renovate, and their offer will reflect that risk.
Some investors may even offer you creative financing terms in addition to a cash offer. Those creative financing terms being a lease-option or owner financing.
Both owner financing and a lease-option can get you much more money for your property, but it depends on the condition of your house, and if the investor works with these options.
Should I Call Them?
Why would you call a random stranger off a random sign? Well, to sell your house quickly for cash, but is there a better way?
And that takes us to our last point.
Selling To a Professional, Direct Home Buyer
Selling to a direct home buyer like Contenza Properties may be the perfect choice for you. When you sell to a direct home buyer like Contenza, you cut out all the typical hassles that come with selling traditionally. You won't have to:
Do any repairs
Pay us any commissions or fees
And you can get an offer quickly
If you're looking to sell your house quickly and don't want the hassle, submit your info below through our simple form. We'll even give you $1,000 cashback at closing.
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If you know someone who needs to sell their house quickly, refer them to Contenza Properties. If we can buy their home, we'll pay you $500 as a thank you.
About the Author
Jordan Reid founded Contenza Properties in April of 2018 to help homeowners solve their real estate problems quickly.
Since then, Jordan has helped multiple homeowners facing difficult situations such as divorce, property liens, and unwanted property inheritance.
Jordan believes in putting people first, and numbers second, which helps him reach the best possible solutions for the homeowners he works with.