Bandit Signs in Los Angeles

18 Replies

Hi BP members! I am looking into giving bandit signs a shot in Los Angeles area.
I want to be aware of laws regarding putting up the signs. I am having a difficult time finding the information on the L.A. city website or a phone number for the city on what is legal and illegal.
Any information and advice would be very helpful.

As far as I know they are illegal. The city will simply throw them away when they get around to it and will make an effort to fine you or the person responsible for putting them up by calling the number posted, which is why they are always Google voice numbers or 800 numbers that make it harder to track who the poster is. Also, I don't know anyone that has had any luck with them here in LA in actually buying a house directly from a bandit sign. The only people that I knew that used them were wholesalers looking to build a cash buyer lists. 

Wish I had a link for you. But that's my limited knowledge with bandit signs. 

I used to see them more in LA. I would expect some funky calls either way. I would be more incline to test a hyper local adword campaign before bandit signs in LA. IMHO the market seems a little more sophisticated these days and not as many desperate sellers...but I have not tried so it is all speculation. Outside of LA and in IE or AV bandits might work better I am thinking. Good luck and let us know what happens. 

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Annette,

I tried bandit signs for a while.  They didn't result in very many leads.  Some get taken down very quickly depending on the city enforcement.  I guess the trick is to find a location that's visible and doesn't get pulled down within days.  Finding a spot on private property that's publicly visible would be the best - may need to get owners permission and/or pay them a small amount for this.  In the end, for me - they were not worth the time/effort to get the result.  You could pay others to put them up for you, but that will cost you more, and you have to check up that they are being placed properly and not just tossed away.

The signs did seem pretty good at getting other RE investors to call me.  So if you are trying to build a local cash buyers list, they could be useful.  I still have a few, and plan to selectively place them.

Larry C.

Great California Homes

Originally posted by @Matt R. :

I used to see them more in LA. I would expect some funky calls either way. I would be more incline to test a hyper local adword campaign before bandit signs in LA. IMHO the market seems a little more sophisticated these days and not as many desperate sellers...but I have not tried so it is all speculation. Outside of LA and in IE or AV bandits might work better I am thinking. Good luck and let us know what happens. 

 Hi Matt thanks for your input. I've heard of Adword campaigns before and I am beginning to hear it more often as a way of marketing. Can you please give me an example of how this method works for you? What are some of the pros and cons of incorporating Adword ?

My thinking behind the bandit signs are to use the same image on the mailers so when the owner opens the mailer or recieves the postcard he is aware of who is the one buying the houses. I guess a way of building a familiarity to those in the neighborhood that are considering to sell their home. What are your thoughts on this?

Originally posted by @Larry Chafe :

Annette,

I tried bandit signs for a while.  They didn't result in very many leads.  Some get taken down very quickly depending on the city enforcement.  I guess the trick is to find a location that's visible and doesn't get pulled down within days.  Finding a spot on private property that's publicly visible would be the best - may need to get owners permission and/or pay them a small amount for this.  In the end, for me - they were not worth the time/effort to get the result.  You could pay others to put them up for you, but that will cost you more, and you have to check up that they are being placed properly and not just tossed away.

The signs did seem pretty good at getting other RE investors to call me.  So if you are trying to build a local cash buyers list, they could be useful.  I still have a few, and plan to selectively place them.

Larry C.

Great California Homes

Thanks Larry, I see that being very selective and strategic when it comes to putting up the signs. Did you use a Google voice on your signs?

I have a box of 100 bandit signs that just came in the mail. I'd like to figure out a way to use them without getting them tossed or fined.

I have not used adwords for real estate yet. I have used adwords in other businesses like my surf school. Basically you target geoghraphical areas and buy keywords people search. In my case this might be "surfing in California" and then when they click on your ad you pay. 

Pros - it works better than just about anything I have tried.

Cons - it can cost thousands and thousands but you control and budget.

Not sure the impact bandit signs would have with image building....it could be negative being a bandit and all.IDK

Hi @Annette Torsarkissian  

I did a little digging and this was the best I could find:

The fine and fee total more than $300 for the first poster, then $6.25 for each additional poster city workers tear down. That's for anything posted on a telephone pole, including signs for lost dogs, yard sales and band promotions.

And:

Robertson said there are four inspectors for all of Los Angeles to enforce the city law that nothing be tacked onto public property. Those who are caught placing signs -- mostly tracked down by their phone number or a company name on the posting -- are fined $194 for the first offense and $6.25 for each additional sign.


As a Los Angeleno, I feel obliged to ask that you please don't post any signs. They blight the neighborhood even more and frankly, they don't work.

If you're looking for alternative marketing ideas, I recommend looking at online (PPC / adwords, Facebook), direct mail (inheritance, probate, divorce, vacant, expired, etc), door-knocking, networking, and cold-calling.

Hi @Annette Torsarkissian

This is a kinda hot topic for me personally. I view bandit signs as graffiti, but by most accounts effective graffiti. I wrote a long, rambling reply to your topic, but something went wrong and the post did not show up. Allow me to summarize.

In the city of Los Angeles, yes, bandit signs are illegal. You could be fined for each sign the city finds. That being said, you probably won't get into trouble. The city usually has other, more pressing tasks to ignore. In some neighborhoods no one really cares. In the nicer neighborhoods your signs probably won't stay up long enough to matter. Even if you do get popped, you'll likely be in a position to write it off as the cost of doing business.

As for the effectiveness I've been told that your phone will ring a lot, though the quality of the lead may leave a lot to be desired. You'll likely find a lot of other "I Buy" guys calling you. The technique lacks novelty. You may find other means of marketing more effective and less trashy, but it's up to you. It can work. You can find motivated sellers. It happens.

Happy New Year!

Tom Mole | [email protected]

Totally agree with Tom above.  They generate calls but they "lack novelty".  I really like that statement because I think novelty is very valuable in marketing - it gets you noticed.  If there are 8 guys with signs out on the side of the road and you put the 9th sign out there, that shows a real lack of imagination.

Personally, I have to agree that I just don't like seeing them in my area.  I think they give our business a bad name.  Especially tacking signs on utility poles - I think those should be fined as those are not our poles to post on.  But people just put them out and let them ROT.  Let's be seen as contributors to improving our neighborhoods, not as the guys that junk up the place...

Medium wbh square logoDev Horn, We Buy Houses® | [email protected] | 877‑932‑8946 | http://webuyhouses.com/profile/arlington

I once noticed a nice restaurant had decided to use one of the last bastions of non-utilized bits of real estate, the men's room urinals.

Like all "media" it has its limits. It excludes about half the popular and has limited exposure time (longer duration the older I get, unfortunately). 

Of course, you're also limited to what is appropriate ad subject. You can't very well sell food or most other consumables in a urinal. And women's products, even if purchased by men like perfume, probably won't work.... 'Honey, what made you think of buying me this lovely bottle of au d'toilet'?

So, back to bandit signs. They rob landscapes of their beauty and say a lot about the user's marketing sophication. They are also illegal in most every jurisdiction and are typically coveredunder uniform health and safety and other codes statewide and specifics in municipal codes and civil penalties..

There are other ways to use signage. My friend Tom Conway captured many motorists attention who either traveled on interstate 20 near Palm Springs or turned off heading south onto highway 111 towards the city of PS and who could not miss his bright yellow English taxi advertising Tom the Home Buyer. 

Urinal, Yellow English Taxi (!) or bandit sign, it's all yellow media to me.

There are pros and cons to bandit signs...a lot of it boils down to taste and test marketing. Karl Krentzel (Red Pill Investor) says that if you have a Real Estate License, they are not illegal since you pay the City for the priveledge of posting signs to buy and sell houses. Having said that, a burner phone is definately the way to go if you use bandit signs for many, many reasons (the least of which is too many people having your phone number). Each market is different and each person's approach to getting leads is different. Learn what works in your market and use that approach.

Originally posted by @Mark Mynhier :

There are pros and cons to bandit signs...a lot of it boils down to taste and test marketing. Karl Krentzel (Red Pill Investor) says that if you have a Real Estate License, they are not illegal since you pay the City for the priveledge of posting signs to buy and sell houses. Having said that, a burner phone is definately the way to go if you use bandit signs for many, many reasons (the least of which is too many people having your phone number). Each market is different and each person's approach to getting leads is different. Learn what works in your market and use that approach.

 Thanks for mentioning me Mark.. to be clear, "bandit signs" in and of themselves aren't necessarily illegal.  It depends a lot on the placement, zoning, and other requirements.  As a Realtor®,  you can use bandit signs.. however, you must also keep compliant with local sign ordinances and the Realtor® Code of Ethics.  

In my experience, bandit signs (especially for Realtors® who wholesale or invest) can be a lucrative way to attract "now" type of business.  If you are a newer investor, that's exactly the type of business you need!  

Thanks for the mention, as well as our podcast at TheRedPillInvestor!  

Don't do it, you can get a ticket.

@Dev Horn , that sign just cracked me up. Ironically, the TV is running the background and they had an WeBuyUglyHouses commercial. I got the same feeling from the TV ad as I got from your sign. I just had to laugh.

@Karl Krentzel whilst I disagree with bandit signs in my heart and they're generally illegal, they are legal enough in some areas and fairly well tolerated in other areas. Beyond that they can be effective. You have a point when you say that newbies need to reach people quickly. They may not have a lot of choices, besides hanging signs is what their guru told them to do. They're just following orders. Maybe we ought to teach them to better methods.

Perhaps this is why most people seem to dislike bandit signs (including our BP hosts, @Brandon Turner and @Joshua Dorkin ). The signs indicate an unsophisticated, newbie investor trying to take advantage of distraught homeowners. Let's face it the I Buy guy is ALWAYS going to make a pretty crappy offer to the homeowner. All in all there's something stinky about bandit signs. It's not that they don't work, but perhaps they shouldn't.

It's just my stupid opinion. No disrespect intended.

Happy New Year!!

Tom Mole | [email protected]

Originally posted by @Tom Mole :

@Dev Horn , that sign just cracked me up. Ironically, the TV is running the background and they had an WeBuyUglyHouses commercial. I got the same feeling from the TV ad as I got from your sign. I just had to laugh.

@Karl Krentzel whilst I disagree with bandit signs in my heart and they're generally illegal, they are legal enough in some areas and fairly well tolerated in other areas. Beyond that they can be effective. You have a point when you say that newbies need to reach people quickly. They may not have a lot of choices, besides hanging signs is what their guru told them to do. They're just following orders. Maybe we ought to teach them to better methods.

Perhaps this is why most people seem to dislike bandit signs (including our BP hosts, @Brandon Turner and @Joshua Dorkin ). The signs indicate an unsophisticated, newbie investor trying to take advantage of distraught homeowners. Let's face it the I Buy guy is ALWAYS going to make a pretty crappy offer to the homeowner. All in all there's something stinky about bandit signs. It's not that they don't work, but perhaps they shouldn't.

It's just my stupid opinion. No disrespect intended.

Happy New Year!!

I appreciate your input on that. And you are right, bandit signs are not the BEST way to find business.... they are effective... but not the MOST effective. You are right that it is the most commonly taught thing to do (besides direct mail) by everyday REI Gurus.

That's why I teach people to call FSBOS, Work their centers of influences, etc. etc etc. 

LOL

Definitely illegal. Here is the code:

http://www.asnc.us/2007-archives/Special-2007/042307-LAMC2804-CommercialSigns.pdf