Should you post a “For Rent” sign on your building?

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No.

Or, at least, not unless your building is on a high traffic street.

Why? Because posting a sign does two terrible things:

  1. It makes your building look cheap. Useful signs are large enough for people driving by to see. Signs that large are almost always tacky and horrible. Do you want your building to look tacky and horrible?
  2. Posting a “For Rent” sign is a signal to your other tenants that you have vacancy. This is a golden opportunity for them to come to you for a rent reduction. Do you want to have all your tenants ask for rent reductions?

Given the above, why would I post a “for rent” sign on a building on a high traffic street? If you’re on a high traffic street, and particularly if you’re on a corner, the benefits of posting the sign (in the form of increased rental inquiries) probably outweigh the drawbacks.

But not all signs are created equal.

A good “for rent” sign is done in tasteful colors that attract attention without looking cheap. A good sign has a strong call to action: It tells the person who sees the sign how s/he can can proceed. If you are on-site, a good sign tells people to come on in to see a unit. If you’re looking to get phone calls, then give them a number to call.

If you do end-up posting a “for rent” sign, just remember to take it down IMMEDIATELY after the vacant unit is rented. Leaving it up ensures that you pay the costs of having it posted (see above) for no reason. And that’s just dumb.

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