Lawn signs are going high-tech. A new solar-powered, LED-lit, computer-chip-equipped signpost can keep real estate lawn signs lit around-the-clock.

After a test run in Florida, the developers are checking into mass production for the signposts, which can shed light on standard real estate signs. They hope to sell the signposts for $199 to real estate agents around the country.

“The largest point of sale item is the lawn sign in the real estate industry,” said Louis Dvorak, whose brother, James, designed the signpost. “That hasn’t changed.” He joked that even in the caveman days, it was probably the same story: “Hey Ork, put a stick in front of our cave. It means it’s for sale.”

There are other lighted signs on the market, he said, such as internally lit real estate signs, but he expects the LED-lit signpost will have a place in the market because it is “backwards compatible” – designed to accept agents’ standard-size signs, said Dvorak, who is marketing the patent-pending device through his Lighthouse Marketing company in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Fla. Some real estate sign companies offer low-tech reflective signs that glow when struck by headlights.

“At first glance people think this is ‘kind of cute…but who shops for houses at night?’ ” Dvorak said. Unlit signs are “just a blur at night,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re buying or selling a home.” The new signposts, though, are definitely attention-getters, he said, and he expects that their use will spread contagiously once home sellers see them and want their agents to use them.

There is also the “whoa” factor, he said. During demonstrations of the sign, “as soon as I turn the lights off everybody (says), ‘Whoa,’ ” Dvorak said. There is also the unidentified lawn-object phenomena that Dvorak said will surely turn the heads of passers-by at night: “People will look at this sign – they don’t know if it’s a UFO landing on a front lawn or not.”

Jackie Scott, a Realtor for RE/MAX Partners in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who has used the signs at homes she has listed, said, “It kind of sets your listing apart. If you’re in a competitive listing situation, it gives you something the competition doesn’t have. She said she was introduced to the sign about six months ago. “I can’t imagine any agent not using them,” she added.

And Pete Nicoletti, whose agent planted a lighted signpost in front of his for-sale home, said the lighted sign was definitely a conversation piece for potential buyers. “All I know is, people mentioned it and I sold my house quick. Sometimes the simple ideas are what makes the difference. Everybody that came and saw the house mentioned the lighted sign.”

There are some hurdles for the adoption of the invention, though. It is common practice in the industry for real estate agents to rent the signposts from independent contractors who install and remove them. Dvorak said he expects the functionality of the signs to overcome this barrier, and he expects the signposts will be most popular among the high-profile real estate brokerages that want to make a greater impact in an area.

The posts, which made a debut about a year ago, feature vinyl construction to resist staining and weathering. A computer chip monitors the solar charge and senses light and dark.

Dvorak said the signs were first offered to real estate agents through a Washington Mutual promotion in Florida.


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