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While the days of newspaper advertising for property may be numbered, I believe the traditional property signboard is here to stay and very likely to be immune to technology advances.
The signboard strategically placed on the boundary of a property and which sometimes is regarded as visual pollution is in my view an integral part of marketing a property.
Signboards are akin to the promotional sticker on the supermarket aisle that draws attention to the special product when doing your weekly shop. While not every property on a street is for sale the ones that are are suitably highlighted for those on the lookout for a property to buy.
I was drawn to this subject by an article on an Australian real estate site, Property Observer, which posed the question as to whether this form of marketing has a future. One of the contributors argued that, rather in the same vein as open homes, signboards are purely for the benefit of the agent; another put forward the view that electronic signs will replace printed signboards.
I hold the view that neither of these predictions will come to pass. Signboards serve a valuable purpose.
They highlight to the local neighbourhood the availability of property for sale. which can be vital for those serendipitous opportunities targeting people who might not feel they are ready to move house but for whom the attraction of a specific house in a particular area can prompt the call-to-action.
For these people email alerts serve no purpose as they are not actively searching. This is an important aspect of the property market, as not all buyers follow a logic path of making a conscious decision to start looking that results in a purchase and a house move. Property buying is not a linear process.
The other value in house signboards is as a visual indicator of the property market. A lack of signboards means a quieter market, lacking demand. A lot of signboards indicates a tricky market without much activity and a nervous set of sellers looking to move.
A healthy number of signboards many with the classic Sold sticker signifies a dynamic market.
As to the form and size of a signboard, I do not see the evolution of electronic signboards. Australian company CodyLive produces these high end LCD signs - I sense that local authorities would judge these as a step too far and ban them as their night time display would be intrusive and potentially distracting to drivers.
The purpose of the signboard is just that, a sign, not a substitute to an online listing that has all the images and facts regarding the property. I can imagine some real estate agents salivating at the branding opportunity of such technology beaming out at night the smiling face of the local agent, but I can't see that eventuating!
As to size, I think in the main we have a good balance. The traditional sign is around 1.2sq m, which provides ample space for a single main image, a couple of smaller images and the contact details and open home times as well as the agent brand. A suitable mix of content.
Signboards that fail to show a image are clearly nothing more than advertising for the agent and the property owner should charge the agent a rental for such space.
In Australia size of some signs appears to be getting out of hand as I found on a recent trip over the Tasman.
Property signboards that totally obscure the front of the property would seem to defeat the very principle of what they are there to do!
Former Realestate.co.nz CEO Alistair Helm is founder of Properazzi.