How to Find Real Estate Deals…the Old-Fashioned Way

I get a lot of questions about marketing on the internet. After all, the online market is massive no matter what product we are talking about. Web-based marketing is good, but for real estate you need to get your message out to your local area.
I know what I’m about to say may disturb you, but some of the Old Timers don’t even use email. Why do you care?  Those same Old Timers are potential leads for your business, and you need to find a way to reach them.

Real Estate Marketing–Old School

bandit signs

Bandit signs are a cheap source of leads for real estate investors.


Let me tell you about an old-fashioned tactic that is still widely in use today:  The “bandit” sign. You see them all over the place, on every major road in every city in the U.S. The term “bandit” is a reference to placing advertising on a plot of land that you don’t own or rent.
I prefer the term “creative marketing sign” but, until the rest of the planet catches on to my idea, we will just have to call these lovely, little money-makers “bandit” signs.
Most bandit signs are 18” X 24” and are commercially manufactured. You will also see homemade signs with terrible hand written messages. The truth is that each type of sign has its place.
The store-bought signs convey professionalism. The handmade sign looks more like a guy trying to buy a house for his own family and has the gumption to go out and look for a deal. Either way, you need people to see your sign.

Get Your Message Out There

I’m a fan of the ugly sign. My bandit signs are bright yellow with red lettering. They are ugly, and people seem to feel compelled to look at them.
Focus on making sure that lots of people see your sign. The more people that see your sign, the more likely someone will call you, and that’s your goal. Put your signs in places that have lots of traffic. If you find a good location, you’ll quickly attract other bandit signs.
I have a funny experiment for you. Place a sign on a good intersection and see how long it takes before a moving company, a maid service, and the local karate dojo have signs next to yours. Bandit signs tend to form clusters.  You can join the cluster, but I recommend that you avoid those piles.
Your ideal location has a lot of traffic, where the traffic is either moving slow or stopped. A small sign next to the highway where people are driving 70 MPH is completely useless. Instead, look for places that your sign can stay for a long time. You’ll quickly find out which towns have overzealous code enforcement officers because they will call you.
Target the locations where your sign can remain unmolested for weeks or even months. I have one sign that has been sitting on the same telephone pole for over a year.  I still get calls from it.

Oops – Did I Do That?

Another technique employed by some of my more energetic friends is to place bandit signs in places where they are obviously not allowed. They place the sign on a Friday night and collect them again on Sunday night, so that the code enforcement people never see them. Code people seem to work on only weekdays from 9 to 5.
Real estate investors work when we can make money. So we win this conflict every time!

Outsource the Work

If you are lazy like me, you may negotiate a deal with someone else to place and retrieve your bandit signs. (I have heard college kids will work for beer.) If you outsource this function, check on your workers to make sure they are actually doing the work.
The best part about bandit signs is that they allow you to be creative. Go out and find new and exciting places to put your signs. See what works and what doesn’t. Get out there and find new ways to drive traffic to your business.