Bandit Signs

33 Replies

I have a question regarding Bandit signs. Would someone share their thoughts on the use of bandit signs. What are response rates? What are sizes of signs etc. 

I know @Joshua Dorkin  is really against them because the handwritten ones look pretty trashy (is this going to be your brand?) and because they are usually illegal in most towns/cities.

That being said, I've read other posts that swear by them.  A few early BP podcast guests have said they get really good response by them.  Since then, I haven't heard a podcast guest since then say anything positive about them.  I think Josh and Brandon are screening their guests better - lol!

I'm trying to keep away from them and focusing on driving for dollars instead.  However, I can't promise I won't try the bandit signs at some point.

Good luck!

Thanks for reply.

We have used professionally printed signs. We just wanted to get some other thoughts on what kind of response rates we can expect, what size sign are being used, are there any particular color schemes that are more effective etc. We have received calls on the signs we have posted.

@Ken Bryant  

I'm assuming you know your local ordinances, so I'll skip that part. 

The size depends on how & where you're placing the signs.  If they are roadside/front yard placements, the larger signs work better.  I don't know the exact dimension, but it would be the standard size that works with the metal "H" stand that pushes into the ground. 

My personal preference for color is royal blue & white.  (You can also go plain black & white to save money.)  If you want to draw additional attention, put a single word or 2, like "CASH FAST", in red.  The blue and white creates nice contrast and most folks can distinguish blue as a color.  If they are totally color blind, it's dark enough to simply appear black.  Red will look gray and wash out, in terms of contrast, to the color blind men looking at it.  (I grew up with a father who was always trying to wear maroon pants with a red shirt...color blind and the 70's was not a good combination!!!)

24 by 18, vertical.  That way when the wind blows it doesn't take them away bcuz it's almost the same size as the telephone pole. Also your horizontal ones have a lot of space on both sides and people tend to try to smack them off. If you nail them down you'll make out better.  They will only be able to cut them off. And zip ties do very well. 

Highway exits get the best eyes.  Also the popular intersection on the right side where the light is.

Thanks Ralph. posting at highway exits is good idea. We had not done that. Do you track how  often you replace those verses the ones posted on telephone pole?

Even-though it isn't the most attractive, Black Letters on Yellow Background get the most attention. Not only does it have a high-contrast, but unlike the White background, the Yellow sticks out. Also, Full Color signs work nicely, [removed]

Depending on the city, the insurance policy doesn't cover a claims of an on-the-job fall after a certain height. Lets say its 10 Feet, so if you put your sign at 15 Feet the city clean-up crew or code enforcement will not touch it according to the city's guidelines. We've had customers tell us their signs remained up for over a year after using this advice.

The telephone company has an employee who's job is solely to remove signs. No matter how high, they have a tool to reach the signs and cut them down. So my professional advice is to stay away from those if you want your sign to remain for a long time.

Hope this helps!

Spend a little time and verify these are legal where you want to post them. Highway exits and telephone poles almost certainly aren't.  Even private property probably isn't.  That's banned by most cities.  I've reviewed half a dozen of more municipal codes because this topic comes up here a lot.  All of them banned these signs.  There's a term for people who engage in illegal actions - criminal.  Surely that's not a label you want attached to you or your investing business. 


I appreciate your perspective. In your review of municipal does it indicate why these types of signs are apparently legal during political campaigns? 

Municipal ordinances don't usually contain the "why" answer.  They do have exceptions for political signs during certain time periods around elections.  And for "for rent" and "for sale" signs when posted on the property being advertised.

Why is really a matter of someone taking action to create the exception.  Laws are nothing but a social contact we've all more or less agreed to.  You could always try to get the law changed to allow them, if they're forbidden in an area where you want to use them.

@Ken Bryant  There are many municipalities with exceptions for signs that are placed on Friday and removed before end of day on Sunday, such as Open House, Garage Sale, etc.  The same ordinance usually contains the specific governance for political signs.  The bottom line is that all of these signs are posted legally (meaning not attached to private property, like telephone poles, which belong to the utility) and have a limited duration.  In some municipalities you actually purchase a permit to post them.

In most areas, the only way you can post signs indefinitely and legally, is the free standing yard signs can generally be posted on private property, as long as they are not posted within the public easement space of the property. (Think inside where a sidewalk would be.) An example would be the signs you see posted advertising the company doing roofing, painting, remodeling, etc. on a property. These are no different than the houses that have school spirit signs in their front yards. Again, this is a general statement, and you should check specific ordinances in your area. However, generally, it would only be a HOA that would limit the signs that could be posted on the truly private part of your private property. The drawback is that you would have to get permission from individual homeowners or post the signs on properties you control.

Hey @Ken Bryant try some A/B testing. Depending on target market, we've found the "crappier" bandit signs work better. Handwritten on cardboard...just make sure it's legible.  How to A/B test? use different google voice numbers.

Good luck!

Sorry, @Hattie Dizmond  but this is just plain wrong:

However, generally, it would only be a HOA that would limit the signs that could be posted on the truly private part of your private property.

Cities can and do regulate signs on private property.  This is a common topic here and I've reviewed municipal codes from a number of cities.  ALL regulate signs on private property.  The ones I've reviewed ALL have a blanket prohibition of anything like a bandit signs.  Then they add exceptions for specific signs.  Political signs are almost always allowed.  Real estate signs on the property being advertised are typically allowed.  There may be other exceptions for yard sales or contractor signs.  I have NEVER found an exception in any code I've reviewed that allows for bandit signs.  Not on public property, not on private, not on the weekend.  No exceptions that would allow bandit signs to be posted ever.  

So, @Ken Bryant  or anyone else who thinks they might use these, find and read your city code.  If its not clear, call code enforcement and ask.  If they're banned in your area, don't use them.

Jon, I've heard that claim made in here before.  Could you post an example of a city ordinance or municipal code that prohibits the posting of small temporary signage on private property?  I'm surprised to hear that would be common or be true in all or most municipalities.  Every ordinance I've seen - including the one for my city - covers the placement of signs on public property.  That's the problem that municipalities seek to address with these ordinances in the first place; their concern and/or jurisdiction for placement of signs on private property is limited.

I certainly agree with the basic premise tho - if they are banned in your area - don't use them. 

I've put in info below from my city.  I've looked at a number of these codes and they're pretty consistent.  There's an idea that because its private property you can do whatever you want for these signs.  Yet nobody thinks you can build whatever you want on a piece of private property.  We all know that building codes and zoning regulations dictate numerous restrictions on what we can do on private property.  Those same municipal ordinances also dictate what can be done with signs.  Most, perhaps all, privately owned signs are on private property.  Stores, office buildings etc.  And those are controlled by city ordinances.

Here's a link to the sign code for the city where I live, Wheat Ridge, CO:

Section 26-705. covers permits for signs:

A. No sign or modification to an existing sign shall be erected, placed or displayed outdoors within the city limits until a permit for such sign has been issued by the city, unless such sign is exempt from a permit in accordance with this sign code.

This is a typical blanket requirement for permits for signs.  Notice the area covered is "within the city limits".  So this, like many ordinances, covers private property.  If you don't have a permit (anybody every gone done to city hall and tried to get one before putting up bandit signs?) you can't put it up unless there is an exemption for your sign.  So, the question is, is there an exemption that would allow bandit signs?

Further down, sections 26-709 and 26-710, cover specifics for different zoning codes.  These refer to the various Wheat Ridge zoning designations.  These two sections are tables of different types of signs.  One of the columns is for whether or not permits are required.  So, if you can find a description of your sign in these tables, and a permit is not required, then you're free to post them.

In both 26-709 and 26-710, line 11f covers real estate signs.  Pasting in a row doesn't work very well, but here's what row says:

f. Real Estate Signs Yes No 9 square feet for one and two-family dwelling residential uses. 50 square feet for all other uses. 1 per street frontage allowed 5 feet Shall not be illuminated. Must be located on the property being advertised.

I highlighted a few items there.  The first "Yes" says they are allowed.  The "No" means a permit is not required.  So, that's seems promising.  But the kicker is there at the end:  "Must be located on the property being advertised."  This allows "for sale" or "for rent" signs on the property being offered.

Line 13i in both sections covers political signs.

Line 6 in both sections covers "off premisis signs", which are defined in 26-702 as:

Off-premises sign. Any sign which advertises or directs attention to a business, commodity, service or activity conducted, sold or offered elsewhere other than on the property which the sign is located.

Those have a blanket prohibition except for public and semi-public signs (also defined in 26-702, bandit signs don't meet these definitions) and billboards.  So, that explicitly bans bandit signs.

Line 7 in both covers "portable signs".  Those are allowed, but are limited to advertising the premises where they're located.

Read through the lists.  I see nothing that could be used as an exception to allow unpermitted bandit signs.  Maybe you do.

I have looked at a number of other cities.  Denver, Austin, Las Vegas (maybe Clark county), and others that people have said "they're allowed here".  All the ones I've looked at have similar verbiage and similar limitations.

If your city allows I would use them. Bandit signs are an interesting topic on BP....I wouldn't be surpised if more people on here use them that actually admit it. Kinda like people bash/make fun of Wal-Mart but at the same time shop their.

@Jon Holdman  some time ago I reviewed Littleton's ordinance and it is similar to Wheatridge's. I will spare the code recitals but trust me it's there. One time I sold a condo in 7 days by splashing the neighborhood in for sale signs (something like 200). I got a call from Denver code enforcement telling me to remove them or they would fine me. I had already sold the property so I took them down.

Around Denver there are vigilante sign police that cut and break bandit signs. I've seen people doing it. The life of a bandit sign is around 12 hours in Metro Denver in my estimation and it's not from code enforcement.

@Ken Bryant  Now to the OP question about size.

The rule of thumb for signage is 1" tall lettering for every 10 MPH. If you don't believe me, measure some local traffic signs. For most residential streets it would be 3 in tall to be legible at rated speed (25 to 30 mph). Makes the typical bandit sign content pretty limited even in residential areas. That's the reason people post them at lights or stop signs.

One additional thing, don't use all caps. You might be tempted because it means that you can get more message on the signs because using 3" lower case means 6" upper case which takes up lots of room. Don't do it. Studies have shown people are able to read signage better if it's in upper and lower case. The varying height and shape of the lettering helps people determine the words better then just reading the words.

I have been using bandit signs since day one and I get tons if leads from them. I use yellow signs with black letters. And I have in bold letters AS IS and FAST CASH and I have a huge $ in the middle of it and that's what sets me apart from the other signs. I buy mine by the hundreds and I get free steaks and shipping. I get both sides printed and I by 18x24 with vertical flutes all for $350 from and then I by blank yellow ones so that I can advertise my properties to buyers around the area of the house I have under contract. I get the 18x24 Signs with horizontal flutes so that I can tack them on poles and the wind doesn't bend them due to the direction of the flutes. These I buy from they run me about $150 with shipping.

I hope this was useful info for you but always make sure that it is ok to have signs in your city/town and keep on keepin on with the GORILLA MARKETING my friend.

They work a lot better for selling a house than buying.

I am guessing because code enforcement probably does not take them down as much since they think it is a homeowner.

Do not put 6 at the same major intersection where code drives every day. Put them at more minor intersections near where you want to buy.

Also great for building your buyers list.

Over the weekend, I just posted 15 of these bandits signs (24in x 36in) over the weekend by driving stakes into the ground around busy intersections and zip tying them to fences... I also zip-tied a 4 ft by 6 ft banner off the freeway on a fence.

So far not one phone call... 

Dont know why, maybe it's the city I'm in... =(

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