In the past decade, technology has drastically impacted every facet of real estate sales and marketing, except one. Signage. QR codes created a lot of excitement in recent years but are slowly fizzling out. Perhaps that in itself is an indication that signage is, and needs to remain, a simple concept. If done right, it will help sell the property being promoted and can also be a powerful marketing and lead generation tool for the salesperson. Either way, the ultimate objective of any sign is to sell.

The most common mistakes I’ve personally observed over the years can all be rectified with one simple piece of advice: KISS (Keep It Simple Salesperson) and Sell.

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Here are the top five real estate sign mistakes and how to fix them:

1)  Cluttered graphics

This is the No. 1 blunder I encounter. Aside from the lack of visual appeal, clutter detracts from the main message. Decide what you want to convey and ensure your call to action is not overpowered by other elements. Do you really need to show all the awards you achieved the past decade on a for sale sign, along with a trophy photo, a QR code, your portrait, your slogan, a coming soon message or MLS logo, a company logo, the Realtor logo, a website address and your contact info?

Definitely overkill. Your ultimate goal should be to give a property exposure, perhaps drive traffic to a website and ultimately get your phone ringing. When it comes to signage, less is more.

2) Disproportionate sizing, graphics and text

When you review and approve a proof from your sign supplier, it is important to remember that what appears legible on your computer monitor may not be the case once the sign is produced. You need to conceptualize the size of the sign and especially your contact info. You might get away with a small logo but a fatal flaw would be an undersized font in an email, web address and/or telephone number. If prospects drive by your sign and need binoculars to see your contact info, that’s a big fail. When it comes to signage, size matters!

3)  Clarity

On occasion I’ve seen off-site signs (for example on billboards or on recycling bins) that look quite professional but if I didn’t recognize the agent, I would not have understood it was real estate related. Take a look at your sign from the public’s perspective.

Is your slogan or terminology easily understood by the general public? I once saw a salesperson advertise free CMA’s, but that is an industry term the general public is not familiar with. Never use acronyms or shortened wording in any form of advertising.

Is your overall message clear? Who are you targeting and is there a strong call to action that will compel that prospect to reach out to you? Is your name dominant?

So often receptionists at every brokerage get that dreaded call that starts off with, “I want info on the house you have listed near the intersection of Mydream Road and Noluck Avenue.” That’s like searching for a needle in a haystack. Since prospects don’t always recall the street address of a listing, it is vital that your name stands out and is clear. When it comes to signage, clarity is…well …clear!

4)  Lack of consistency and repetition

This one applies to all your marketing initiatives, which should ideally have the same look or branding. The recognition of a familiar image or brand, accompanied by repetition (in this case frequent sold signs!) will have a stronger impact with prospects.

Major global corporations spend millions each year to achieve this. For example, what fast food place comes to mind when I mention the golden arches? They are recognized from a distance in every country around the world, party due to a strong brand and repetition (commercials, flyers). In our industry, you don’t necessarily need to spend exorbitant amounts of money on branding. Simply make the effort to ensure your branding is consistent so when you send a flyer in your farming area, they will recognize it is coming from the same salesperson who had the open house signs on the next block and the same person with the sold sign on their neighbour’s home up the street.

If you have a certain look on your open house signs but a totally different look on your for sale signs, you will lose that impact. Make sure it is all cohesive and don’t change your branding too frequently. When it comes to signage, consistency and repetition creates impact!

5)  Fancy fonts

Some fancy folks prefer fancy fonts. While certain script fonts look elegant, some of these are too thin or ornate and blend into the background. That makes them difficult to read so you immediately lose your prospects attention. When it comes to signage, fancy fonts fail!

The majority of prospects are driving by, so you only have a few seconds to get their attention and even less time for them to get your info. Be sure to “KISS and sell” so you can make those seconds count!

Angela Papassotiriou has enjoyed a 30-year sales and marketing career while earning numerous industry leading achievements and awards. She has dedicated almost 15 years to working in a senior management capacity for some of the GTA’s most prominent new home developers and brokerages. Papassotiriou is currently a broker of record, using her wealth of expertise to support Realtors at eXp Realty in Ontario. She says she is dedicated to the highest professional standards and the ongoing pursuit of service excellence. Email [email protected].


  1. Excellent article Angela, well said. I totally don’t get how many agents just don’t ‘get it’. They will join a fantastically branded brokerage like RLP or RE/MAX or C-21 and proceed to make their signage unrecognizable! The other day I was at an event and the lady sitting next to me, I swear her card had the white and purple colours of another brokerage and upon closer scrutiny she’s with RLP! I’ve seen a RE/MAX for sale sign “disguised” in KW colours. Hello-oh?

  2. I couldn’t agree more. However, another one for your list: Keeping your sign on the lawn far too long after the SOLD sign goes on. It only serves to annoy the neighbours and therefore alienate the seller. Seems to me 30 days is more than sufficient.


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