Signs, Signs, and More Signs

Brian Burke also relys on the Web to promote open houses in the Highlands Ranch community south of Denver. But the cornerstone of their marketing strategy is signs, and lots of them. Over the past three years they've amassed a collection of about 80 open house signs in an array of styles, colors, and sizes.

For a typical open house, Brian will spend two hours before the event setting up 20 to 40 signs. It may sound excessive, but "it really works," Rita says. "It brings the people in."

They use a mix of company-branded signs and specialty signs, which advertise giveaways ranging from fresh-brewed coffee to a list of area foreclosures.

"Different signs work for different properties," she says.

For example, they found that a no-frills handwritten open house sign is very effective for drawing in bargain hunters, even though the signs may look tacky. For higher-end properties, company-branded lime green-and-navy signs paired with just a few specialty signs have proven to be a good mix.

? "We do work with a lot of homeowner associations and gated communities, so in those cases we may have some restrictions on what signs we use," she says.

? Signs will often attract curious passersby who may not be actively looking for a home. But that??s the point, Rita says.

? "You never know who will fall in love with the house," she says. "We don??t disregard anyone. The bottom line is that we need a buyer, and the looker may be the buyer."

? It??s hard to argue with the Burkes?? success. Rita estimates that 10 percent of the couple??s listings sell to someone who visited an open house. But of course, a home doesn??t sell just because of the signs. The clincher for many, she says, is Brian??s gift of gab.

"It??s really his personality that gets people warmed up," she says. "Once you get them in the door, it??s the way that you conduct the open house that makes the difference. If you come right at them with ?Ë?Are you qualified??? they??ll run away."

? Brian, who has a background in construction, loves walking visitors around a property and chatting about a home??s details. Even if visitors don??t fall in love with that particular home, they??ll leave with the thick packet of community information that Rita assembled the day before. The packet includes a local market report with data on recent sales activity and selling prices.

? "Our feeling is the bigger the packet, the better," she says.

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