We Buy Houses for Cash Signs – Legitimate or Illegal Scam?
You’ve seen those bandit signs declaring “we buy houses!” or “cash for your home” on telephone poles, road sides, and generally littering up most roadways in the country. Some look printed but some look like they were made by hand. Who is behind them?
Are bandit signs illegal?
It depends. Most cities have rules against posting plastic bandit signs on city property. This includes nailing signs to telephone poles and placing signs along the roadway in city property.
The people posting we buy houses signs often use tricks to avoid getting caught, including:
- Using free temporary phone numbers that go direct to voicemail so it’s tough for city code enforcement to track them down.
- Buying special tools so they can illegally place signs high on telephone poles, making it difficult for city code enforcement to remove them.
- Never using their real name or company on signs, and hiding behind generic wording.
- Placing signs in the middle of the night or on weekends when city officers aren’t working.
- Hand-writing signs so it looks more “homey” – or because they can’t afford to even print on the signs.
- Hiring interns, craigslist workers, or undocumented people to put the signs out – who may not understand what they are doing is against the law and if caught don’t know the details of who “hired” them.
In most cases, placing “we buy houses” signs along roads and on telephone poles is illegal.
You have to ask yourself if a company or person started off breaking the law to advertise – what are then going to do when buying your house?
Are they legitimate?
In the vast majority of cases – no. Unfortunately, placing cheap plastic signs by the side of the road is the most inexpensive way for “newbie” real estate investors to advertise. Most don’t have the money, experience, or knowledge to actually buy a house. They are doing cheap marketing in the hopes that a home owner will contact them, they can put the house under contract and then “wholesale” it to someone else who actually does have the money to buy a house.
Late night infomercial “gurus” pitch get-rich-quick schemes to investors telling them to put these bandit signs out because it’s inexpensive and they might get a home seller to bite. Don’t be a victim, and never trust a $2 sign with your home – one of the largest financial transactions in your life.
Are they ugly?
Of course. Plastic signs on the side of the road are ugly and make neighborhoods look rundown. All those signs turn into litter at some point – you can be sure the people who placed them aren’t coming back to pick them up. This type of advertising is a blight on our communities and should be avoided.
Is it a scam?
Maybe. Look – there are a lot of novice real estate investors who don’t have money and use this type of marketing to get their start. That doesn’t make it a scam, but if they aren’t clear about what they are doing it’s dishonest and misleading in the least. Some people are well intentioned and aren’t trying to scam anyone – they just might not have the experience yet to do what they claim and actually buy a house.
On the other hand – due to the anonymous, inexpensive, and easy nature of we buy houses bandit signs, many scammers use them to trick home owners into signing fraudulent documents used to steal their house. Most signs only have a phone number (that’s a throw-away temporary number) and when the home owner finally finds out what’s going on – it’s too late and the scammer is long gone, with the number disconnected.
Legitimate businesses don’t do this kind of advertising – a real company wants you to know their business name, their address, who the owners are, how long they’ve been in business, who they’ve worked with before, their website, their social media accounts…. The list goes on.
Don’t ever trust a “we buy houses cash” bandit sign on the side of the road (or any plastic sign posted illegally). Reputable companies do reputable advertising and have professional websites and business locations – always be sure you are dealing with an experienced home buyer if you need to sell your house quick and not some “we buy houses cash” plastic sign scam!