RISMEDIA, April 5, 2007-(San Diego Union Tribune)-The real estate biz has a dark side: At night, you can't see which houses are for sale.
With a background as a real estate agent, Bob Visotcky of Encinitas, is shedding some illumination on the problem with his ListingLight, a battery-operated light that clamps on top of a Realtor's for-sale sign.
"There are 9 million single-family homes for sale every year. Who couldn't use three to five more hours of selling and buying time?" Visotcky said.
Carlton Lund, a broker with Prudential California in Carlsbad, has been using the lights for eight months and said, "An agent's sign is like an auxiliary office. Instead of spending $10,000 a month for office space, the sign gives people a good idea of how you represent your business."
The ListingLight has a built-in timer that turns the light on at dusk, and off after three hours in the summer or five hours in the winter. The six C batteries power the four LED lights (two on both sides of the sign) for six weeks or eight weeks, depending on how many hours per night it's activated.
The light can be installed in five minutes with a special security tool and four screws (no drilling is needed). It's weather-and tamper-resistant and reusable.
"We've discovered that it's a great anti-theft device, too; people are hesitant to steal a sign with a light on it," Visotcky added.
"People are out at 8 or 9 o'clock looking at houses in the summer," Visotcky said. "The ListingLight provides up to 150 more selling hours a month. It gives the agent an advantage over other agents, and it tells their clients 'I work overtime for you.' "
Now that the market has slowed, anything that helps make a deal is "a plus for buyer, seller and agent," Visotcky said. Even with daylight-saving time landing three weeks early, there's still a lot of doing-business time lost to darkness.
The inspiration for the ListingLight hit a few years ago.
In 2001, Visotcky landed in Los Angeles after over a quarter of a century as a market manager at radio stations across the country. He was overseeing six stations and 600 employees in L.A. when he was downsized out of a job.
"I told my wife that I was tired of getting moved all over the country. I said, 'Let's go to San Diego, park ourselves and figure out what happens next.' "
What happened next was a new career selling real estate for a well-known agency in San Diego. He was out driving one day when he spotted a home with a FSBO (for sale by owner) sign. He stopped and persuaded the seller that she needed the help of a professional real estate agent.
She was convinced, but ended up picking another agent.
"I went by a few days later after dark, just to see who she chose, but I couldn't read the sign in her yard," he said.
A light went on in his mind – why aren't real estate signs illuminated?
Visotcky did some research and discovered that lights for signs had been marketed in the past, "but no one had done it well. Many were solar-powered, and just didn't provide enough light," he said.
He took his idea to a design team, but their prototype didn't live up to his expectations and he found himself starting over again with new designers after a wasted six months.
"Any time you do anything major like this, you're going to have pitfalls," he said.
Visotcky continued selling real estate while the bugs were worked out, and finally had a workable, salable product in 2006. The response was favorable. He's sold more than 10,000 lights worldwide from his offices and warehouse in Carlsbad.
"When I was in the radio business and moving to a new town every few years, I worked during the day, like most people, so I cruised through neighborhoods at night to see what properties were for sale. If I'd been able to see the Realtors' signs, it would've been a lot easier," Visotcky said.
Visotcky envisions other uses for his creation: "Anyone who has a temporary sign can use one, like a builder, a landscaper . . . if you have a party, just think how cool it would be to put up a sign and light it."
The ListingLight sells for $65. Visotcky also sells the ListingLock, which locks the sign to the post. A set of two ListingLocks retails for $18.
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