For Sale boards send out a positive message

Online property search sites may enable buyers from anywhere in the world to see every last detail of your home when it is listed for sale but an estate agent’s most effective marketing tool remains the humble For Sale board.

The media is fond of highlighting the fact that overseas investors are keen to snap up property in exclusive areas of London. A recent report revealed that out that oil royals from Qatar now own £1bn of property in Mayfair.

It pointed out that almost a quarter of Mayfair’s 279 acres and over 4300 residential properties are now owned by Qatari investors, making the Gulf state the largest buyer and tenant group for luxury property in this part of London.

But away from Mayfair, the majority of house purchasers already live locally and many people identify property they want to buy from For Sale boards.

A spokesman for Fulham estate agent Lawsons & Daughters explains: “When buyers start looking for properties they often tour the area looking for sale boards. They then ring the agents about the boards they see. Estate agents that have the least boards on display get the fewest number of calls.”

For Sale boards can also prompt local residents into moving home. North London estate agent Paramount Properties says that it is aware of buyers who only viewed a property because it had a For Sale board outside.

These type of buyers do not look at the property section of local newspapers or use the internet to find a suitable home because they had not previously considered moving.

Enquiries generated from For Sale boards are usually from people likely to buy a property. “If someone wants to look inside a property, the chances are they will have already decided that they like the outside and the local area,” says a spokesman for central London property firm Plaza Estates.

But For Sale boards are not universally popular. A number of local authorities in London – including Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea – have banned their use in conservation areas.

Alistair Boscowan, of estate agent Best Gapp, which operates in Kensington & Chelsea, explains: “The Town & Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) England Regulations 2007 allows local planning authorities to apply to the Secretary of State for a direction removing the rights of estate agents to put whatever boards they want up in a defined area, normally part of a conservation area. They can do this on the grounds that estate agents boards are damaging the character and appearance of a conservation.”

Strict rules govern the use of estate agent boards. The same regulations that allow local authorities to prohibit their use in certain areas state:

  • No board announcing a property has been sold or let can be placed unless there is an additional board saying that the lease is subject to contract or has been agreed.
  • A single board can be no larger than 0.5 square metres
  • It must be removed within 14 days of completion.
  • It must be no higher than 4.6 metres above ground level
  • It cannot be illuminated.

Whether you approve of For Sale boards or not, there is no denying they help sell property by promoting it to a local audience. If you are putting your home on the market and want the maximum level of enquiries, viewings and offers then a For Sale board is a wise option.

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