It's hard to drive down the street around Knoxville without seeing a sign that reads "We buy houses" sitting on the side of the road or nailed to an electrical post.
They are seemingly everywhere, but are the real estate investment companies advertising their services on the low cost signs legitimate businesses?
We set out to Verify.
To find out if you should trust the ads we tagged along with Housevending Realty, a company behind some of the signs, spoke with the Better Business Bureau, and brought our questions to the Tennessee Real Estate Commission.
Housevending Realty is a real estate and investment company that has tried using billboards, box trucks and low cost roadside signs to advertise their business.
Nothing brings in more customers than the signs they can write and hang up in less than a minute.
"They work. People call us all the time to ask us what that means," said Brandon Ketron with Housevending. "We've done billboards in the past, but I don't think the return is nearly as good."
The company has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, and has sold over 100 homes.
They pay cash for property, oftentimes closing sales in just a couple of days. When they buy a home, they either renovate it and sell it or keep it as a rental property.
"We have the handwritten signs that we put out that some people respond to because they want to know that they're dealing with a person, that's a real person," said Dustin Weaver with Housevending. "A lot of times the cash is not necessarily the thing that they're looking for. A lot of them have a problem that they're looking for us to solve."
While they are a legitimate company that uses the roadside signs as a cheap form of advertising, experts say they can't conclude that every sign leads to a credible business.
"There are professionals in this business, but anyone can go to the internet and be a professional home buyer," said Tony Binkley, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau. "Some of them are legitimate, and some of them aren't. It's one of those things that is just buyer-beware and you need to check out the buyer and make sure you know who you're dealing with."
Binkley also said that people selling their homes should lookout for short selling.
"For somebody to come in and buy your home, they're got to be able to make a profit off it," Binkley said. "So your home is going to be purchased at a discount to what you could normally do in the real estate market."
We also reached out to the Tennessee Real Estate Commission with our questions.
In a statement, they wrote, "In Tennessee, an owner of a piece of real estate property is exempt from being required to be licensed as a real estate agent to purchase and sell their own properties. If they are doing it on behalf of the a third party, however, the person(s) are not exempt and would be required to be licensed and follow the Tennessee Real Estate Broker Act. Consumers can visit verify.tn.gov to learn if the real-estate professional they're working with is currently licensed."
The BBB, the realtors we spoke with and the Tennessee Real Estate Commission all say that while some of the signs may be legitimate, there are signs promising cash for property that are not.
Because of that, we cannot Verify that every "We buy houses" sign leads to a credible business.
To be sure a company is legitimate, make sure to ask for references, find out how long the company has been in business, ask how many houses they've sold and contact the Better Business Bureau or Tennessee Real Estate Commission.