​We’re all familiar with real estate signs. When a house is listed, a sign is customarily placed on the front lawn advertising that the house is up for sale. The sign typically includes a real estate agent’s name, phone number and even, in some cases, the agent’s photo, along with the real estate office’s website address. These signs are used to make potential homebuyers aware that a particular house is on the market.

But what about these “We Buy Houses” or “Sell Your House” signs you might have seen popping up here and there along our highways and byways? These generally don’t contain business or personal agent names. In some cases, there’s no website address. Usually there’s just that one phrase and a phone number.

Perhaps you’ve wondered who might be on the other end of the phone if you call that sign. Surely not a professional, right? How reliable could a sign on the side of the road be? Must be a scam, you’ve probably thought.

Rest assured, and contrary to popular belief, it’s not.

These signs advertise a service; no different than signs that proclaim “We Paint Houses” or “We Make House Repairs”. Carpenters, roofers, painters, plumbers and other professionals utilize this inexpensive and relatively effective marketing practice.

These “We Buy Houses” signs are meant to draw attention to the business of real estate investing. The use of these signs is simply to make consumers aware that they don’t have to go the traditional route when selling their homes, most especially if their current situation–whatever that may be–does not conform to the typical house-selling process. These situations might include divorce or foreclosure. Or, the house may simply be in need of repair and has become a burden to the homeowner. Unlike many real estate agents, real estate investors see the value of your home even if it needs more than a little TLC.

That said, it of course makes sense to do some research if you’re thinking about reaching out to an investor but are still hesitant based on your perception of that roadside sign. So go ahead and take down the number on that sign you passed by today. Call and ask if there’s a website you can check out. Ask for testimonials. Most real estate investors will be more than happy to point you in the direction of a satisfied customer; after all, they thrive on another inexpensive marketing tool: word of mouth.

Once  you’ve done that and established that the investor is indeed not a scam artist, call back. Again, real estate investors will be more than happy to talk about  your house and your situation. Maybe they’ll like to talk TOO much: they’ll ask a lot of questions, maybe as many as you do. And in the end, they will more than likely tell you whether they can help you or not.

Again contrary to popular belief, estate investors do not simply buy up every house they come across. If, for example, you like to buy clothes, you don’t buy every piece of clothing you come into contact with. Besides the financial improbability, there’s clothes you won’t like the style of, or the color of. There’ll be sizes that are too large or too small. It’s sort of the same for investors. In some cases, they might not be interested in the type of house you own.  Some investors, for instance, might only be looking for 3-bedroom, 2-bath houses, or 2-bed, 1-bath homes.

Real estate investors have a criteria that must be met in order for them to consider a house. Besides the type of house, one of these is generally that they cannot buy a house at full value. So, if you call the number on a “We Buy Houses”‘ or “Sell Your House” sign and say, “My house is worth $200,000 and I need $200,000 for it,” it’s highly improbable that a real estate investor can help you. Or, if you have a house that only needs to be repainted and you can do this yourself and want to list it with a realtor, a real estate investor is not for you.

So, you’ve called, you’ve established credibility and your house meets the criteria. What next?

At M5 Homes, everything is done through an attorney. A word of advice: if an investor tries to do something without an attorney, or tries to conduct business in any way that does not make you feel comfortable, DO NOT DO IT. Do not agree to or sign anything that has not been reviewed by an attorney. For continuity and accountability reasons, M5 Homes conducts every one of its business transactions in the same way. This protects both the seller and the investor.

Whatever happens next will be based on your particular situation. There is generally no blanket statement that applies to every real estate investment transaction. Every situation, every seller’s needs, every outcome is different. But with the right investor, it should all turn out the way you intended.

Hopefully this has helped to clear up any preconceived notions you might have about “We Buy Houses” signs. So the next time you drive by one, realize that there is not typically a scam artist on the other end of that phone but a professional, one who has likely helped a homeowner out of a bad situation or who has increased the value of a home by making necessary repairs.

Most often, real estate investing can be a win-win situation.

What is your opinion about “We Buy Houses” signs posted around town?

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