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digital for sale sign

Compass’s New Yard Sign Might Be More About Collecting Information Than Sharing It

Tech-enabled brokerage Compass is being applauded for their revamp of the “for sale” sig that has become one of the iconic images of the real estate profession. Starting October 1st, Compass agents will be able to buy one of these signs for $1000. The signs can be changed remotely thanks to the battery and internet connection. The signs will also supposedly support interactive interfaces with a prospective buyer, including augmented reality. They have also negotiated a deal with Waze that will show the signs on the driving app.

The most interesting part of the story, for us, was something that Compass’s chief creative officer said: “I want to challenge everyone to imagine a world in which the sign is a smart-home hub, […] it’s sending information about air quality and noise pollution, it’s helping open doors for tours, it’s giving you the tour, and then it’s providing actual value to the agent, the buyer, and the seller.”

The intention to collect data was dismissed by former Compass CTO when he said, “I don’t see a need of live-streaming this data anytime soon,” but he also revealed what might be of significance to Compass when he said, “Are there other reasons why this home is more attractive?”

Putting in a cool sign will no-doubt help the agent brand himself a little bit, but I think it should be said that one of the reasons that the for sale sign has never been “disrupted” like this is because it is not a major factor in the purchasing decision of a home. Plus, most people do not find out about listings because of physical signage. They usually only see the sign once they have identified the house from an online listing and booked a tour. A study by the National Association of Realtors that came out last year showed that while 44% of buyers looked online for properties, only 6% drove by homes and neighborhoods.

Capturing data like street noise, foot traffic, or air quality could help Compass find “other reasons why this home might be more attractive,” especially when compared to their sales data. These data points could help Compass understand which houses are the highest value to list and which might be worth more than what it is listed, in a way that no online brokerage or listing company could. This sign will be a flashy new toy for Compass agents but their true value might not be fully manifested until Compass can collect enough relevant data.

The company also just announced that it would be licensing its technology to brokers in non-core markets. Now all of the brokers that are “Powered by Compass” will have access to the productivity tools and this new sign and Compass will be the willing recipient of even more data.