Real estate abstract
A lighted real estate sign having at least one translucent face
with indicia to convey marketing information pertaining to a parcel
of real estate. An internal light illuminates the translucent face
and clearly displays the indicia at night. The sign is powered by
a battery, and controlled by a control circuit in response to inputs
from a solar panel used to recharge the battery, a photocell used
to detect appropriate light conditions to illuminate the internal
light, and a timer to turn off the light. The real estate sign is
attached to a mounting bracket, which, in turn, is anchored to the
parcel of real estate. The sign is locked to the mounting bracket
to prevent theft and to rigidly maintain the sign and position.
Real estate claims
What is claimed is:
1. A lighted real estate sign, comprising:
an anchor securable to a parcel of real estate;
a sign assembly connected to the anchor, the sign assembly having
at least one translucent face and an internal light source to illuminate
the translucent face; and
a lock assembly having a plurality of parts directly connected
to one another for securely fixing the sign assembly to the anchor
in a manner for preventing removal of the sign assembly from the
anchor to hinder removal of the anchor from the real estate;
the anchor comprising an auger having an extended shaft portion
adapted to protrude from the ground when the auger is fully bored
into the parcel of real estate, and a mounting bracket configured
for attachment to the sign assembly and adapted for attachment to
the extended shaft portion of the auger in a manner to allow the
mounting bracket to rotate relative to the auger without moving
the auger, the lock assembly being adapted to secure the sign assembly
to the mounting bracket in a manner to inhibit separation of the
auger from the mounting bracket and so that the real estate sign
is capable of pivoting about the shaft portion of the auger when
the real estate sign is locked to the mounting bracket.
2. The real estate sign of claim 1 wherein the sign assembly has
a translucent surface encircling the light source, the translucent
face being a portion of the surface.
3. The real estate sign of claim 2 wherein the at least one translucent
face is made of a polymeric resinous material.
4. The real estate sign of claim 1 wherein the sign assembly has
an internal battery operatively connected to the light source for
powering the light source.
5. The real estate sign of claim 4 wherein the battery is rechargeable,
the real estate sign further comprising a solar panel operatively
connected to the sign assembly, the solar panel being operatively
coupled to the battery in a manner to recharge the battery.
6. The real estate sign of claim 5 further comprising a photocell
operatively connected to the battery.
7. The real estate sign of claim 6 further comprising a timer element
and an internal control circuit, the control circuit operatively
connecting the solar panel, the battery and the photocell, the control
circuit being adapted for switching the internal light source on
in response to an input from the photocell and for switching the
internal light source off in response to an input from the timer
8. The real estate sign of claim 4 wherein the light source comprises
a neon bulb.
9. The real estate sign of claim 8 further comprising a DC to AC
inverter operatively connected to the battery and to the neon bulb
for driving the neon bulb.
10. The real estate sign of claim 1 wherein the lock assembly comprises
a first part securely fastened to the sign assembly, a second part
securely fastened to the anchor, and a lock member for securely
fixing the first part to the second part in a manner for preventing
separation of the first part from the second part, the first and
second parts and lock member being directly connected to one another.
11. The real estate sign of claim 10 wherein the lock member comprises
12. A method of marketing a parcel of real estate at night to advertise
the real estate as being available for sale or lease, the method
providing a sign assembly having a translucent front face, a translucent
back face, translucent sides extending between the front and back
faces, and an internal light being encircled by the faces and sides,
the internal light being adapted and positioned to transmit light
energy through the faces and sides, the translucent front face having
indicia to convey marketing information pertaining to the parcel
of real estate, the marketing information indicating that the real
estate is available for sale or lease;
anchoring the sign assembly to the parcel of real estate; and
energizing the internal light of the sign assembly in a manner
so that light energy from the internal light is transmitted through
the translucent front and back faces and through the translucent
sides, thereby illuminating the sign to clearly display the indicia
13. The method of claim 12 wherein the step of anchoring the sign
assembly to the parcel of real estate comprises:
anchoring the mounting bracket to the parcel of real estate; and
attaching the sign assembly to the mounting bracket.
14. The method of claim 13 further comprising locking the sign
assembly to the mounting bracket with a pad lock.
15. The method of claim 12 wherein the step of energizing the internal
providing a rechargeable battery and a control circuit;
operatively connecting the battery and the light to the control
controlling the energization of the light with the control circuit.
16. The method of claim 15 further comprising:
providing a solar panel to recharge the battery; operatively connecting
the solar panel to the control circuit; and
controlling recharging of the battery with the control circuit.
17. The method of claim 12 wherein the translucent back face has
indicia to convey marketing information pertaining to the parcel
of real estate, the marketing information on the translucent back
face indicating that the real estate is available for sale or lease.
Real estate description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to illuminated real estate signs and to
methods of marketing real estate.
For quite some time, real estate signs have played a significant
role in transferring interests in real property, whether by sale
or lease. In front of homes and businesses all over the country,
real estate signs notify the public that a given piece of property
is available for sale, lease, or possibly other arrangements as
real property owner(s) may desire. A fair amount of interest in
properties is sparked when people for one reason or another happen
to pass by and see a real estate sign located on the property. Indeed,
simply driving around neighborhoods looking for real estate signs
is a common way that people learn that a particular property is
available for sale or lease.
Several different types of real estate signs exist in the marketplace.
The signs themselves are typically metallic and are supported by
metal or wood structures that are usually affixed to the front lawn
of the property, or other suitable locations that are visible to
the public. The signs themselves are often thin, rectangular panels
overlaid with text and graphics capable of withstanding the elements.
However, wood, plastic, and cardboard signs of lesser durability
may also be found which serve the same purpose of notifying the
public that the property is available for sale or lease. The structures
supporting real estate signs are typically one of two basic constructions.
First, a wooden cross arm structure from which the sign is suspended
is common. A second type of structure incorporates metallic poles
attached to each side of the real estate sign.
A disadvantage of real estate signs is that they are often difficult
to read, and sometimes difficult to see at all, after dark. While
a portion of the market of potential buyers and/or lessors has ample
opportunity to locate and read real estate signs in daylight hours,
an increasing portion of the market does not. Also, even if a real
estate sign is noticed in the darkness, the darkness makes it difficult
to read key information (e.g. phone numbers and real estate company
names) on the signs. These difficulties may cause a potential buyer
or lessor to refrain from viewing properties at night altogether
and certainly impedes the progress of those that do. Therefore,
an appreciable portion of the interested market may not get the
opportunity to view properties because they could not easily find
them at night.
One type of real estate signs has spot lights or flood lights in
a cross arm that shine down upon a suspended display panel. The
display panel is overlaid with information regarding marketing information
about the property. The lights are located in the cross arm, along
with other components, such as a battery, an alarm, a radio transmitter,
a thermal sensor and/or heating coils to help ensure that the sign
remains in place and remains visible at night to convey information
about the property to potentially interested parties. While this
type of sign provides a partial solution to the problems associated
with viewing real estate properties at night, it is not without
For instance, the lighted real estate signs of this type may blend
in with a multitude of lights in a neighborhood so that it becomes
easy to miss unless one is carefully looking for it. For instance,
porch lights, yard lights, street lights, and light coming through
windows may make the sign difficult to see and read from certain
vantage points where the surrounding light field backlights the
sign and camouflages it. Also, when lit, the sign is practically
invisible when viewed from a side perspective. Because of the relative
thinness of the display panel, the silhouette of the sign may be
made out only when one stands at a sufficient angle relative to
the front or back faces of a sign. In other words, even though the
lights shine down upon the face of the sign at night, the sign may
nonetheless be virtually invisible from the side. Thus, it is possible
that one could drive by this type of sign at night and completely
miss it if the sign is approached from certain angles and/or a distracted
driver or passenger briefly glances at the property only from a
perspective in which the sign cannot be seen. Finally, the harsh
bright light of this type of sign is prone to glare, and may be
unwelcomed by the neighbors.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Among the several advantages of the present invention may be noted
the provision of a lighted real estate sign that may be clearly
seen against the backdrop of a lighted neighborhood at night; the
provision of a lighted real estate sign that may be clearly noticed
from any perspective around the sides of the sign; the provision
of a lighted real estate sign that is less prone to glare; the provision
of a lighted real estate sign having a soft, soothing glowing light;
and a provision of a method of using such a sign at night to advertise
a parcel of real estate as being available for sale or lease.
Generally, the lighted real estate sign of the present invention
has an anchor that may be secured to a parcel of real estate. A
sign assembly having a translucent face is connected to the anchor.
Inside the sign assembly is an internal light source that illuminates
the translucent face after dark. A lock assembly secures the sign
assembly to the anchor in a manner that prevents detachment of the
sign assembly from the anchor as well as the removal of the anchor
from the real estate.
In another aspect of the invention, a method of marketing a parcel
of real estate at night to advertise its availability for sale or
lease is provided. A sign assembly having an internal light to illuminate
a translucent face of the assembly is acquired. The translucent
face of the sign assembly features indicia to convey marketing information
pertaining the parcel of real estate. Anchoring the sign assembly
to the parcel of real estate and energizing the internal light of
the sign assembly completes the method, and the indicia on the translucent
face of the sign assembly is clearly illuminated at night for all
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a real estate sign of the present
FIG. 2 is another perspective view of the real estate sign of FIG.
1, partially broken away to reveal the internal components of the
FIG. 3 is an elevational view of a mounting bracket of the real
estate sign of FIG. 1 secured to the ground with an anchor.
FIG. 4 is an exploded fragmented perspective view of the sign mounting
bracket of FIGS. 1-3.
FIG. 5 is a fragmented perspective view showing the sign of FIG.
4 secured to the mounting bracket.
FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram showing the elements used to control
illumination of the sign of FIG. 1.
Corresponding reference characters indicate corresponding parts
throughout the several views of the drawings.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
Referring now to the drawings, a lighted real estate sign according
to the present invention is indicated generally by the reference
numeral 10 in FIG. 1. As explained more fully below, the sign 10
is adapted to be anchored to a parcel of real estate 12 and to conspicuously
advertise the availability of the real estate 12 for sale or lease
both during daylight hours and well into the night. The basic shape
and contours of the lighted real estate sign shown and described
herein is for illustrative purposes only. While the illustration
herein is uniquely shaped and contoured to grab the attention of
passers-by, the variety of appearances that the invention could
assume is limited only by one's imagination. Of course, the invention
could also easily be practiced in the form of a more traditional
real estate sign.
Generally, the lighted real estate sign 10 of the present invention
comprises a sign assembly 14, a mounting bracket 16 anchored to
the real estate 12 as further described below, and a locking assembly
generally designated by the reference numeral 18, also described
in detail below.
The sign assembly is made of a sturdy weather-resistant polymeric
resinous material, such as that sold under the LEXAN trademark by
General Electric Company. Preferably, the entire sign assembly is
translucent, although this is not essential. A translucent face
20, however, is an essential feature of the sign assembly 14. The
translucent face 20 includes indicia, such as that indicated by
reference numeral 22, to convey marketing information regarding
the availability of a parcel of real estate 12. Preferably, the
sign assembly and the translucent face are of a light color (e.g.
white) and the indicia is of a darker color to provide maximum contrast
when the sign is lit. However, any color combination may be used,
including a dark sign assembly 14, a dark translucent face 20 and
brightly colored indicia 22. Also, the contours 24 may be colored
or decorated as desired to customize the appearance of the sign,
and other features such as the convex circular surface 26, which
the inventor reserves for his trademark, may be incorporated into
the invention to alter its appearance.
Preferably, the sign assembly 14 is of a two-piece construction
joined together at a seam 28 according to methods well known in
the art. Preferably, the pieces of the sign assembly 14 are substantially
identical to maintain a consistent appearance of the sign from both
the front and the rear views. Also, the indicia 22 on the translucent
face 20 is preferably the same on both pieces of the sign assembly
14. However, in certain situations it may be advantageous to use
different indicia 22 on the faces of the sign, or even to vary the
characteristics and location of the translucent face 20 so that
each side of the lighted real estate sign has a distinct impression
on a viewer.
Referring now to FIG. 2, the sign assembly 14 has an internal rechargeable
battery 30 to power an internal light source 32. When the light
is energized, it illuminates the translucent face 20 from within
and thus clearly displays the indicia 22 after dark. Because the
real estate sign 10 is illuminated from within, the translucent
face takes on a soft, glowing appearance pleasing to the eye, unconducive
to glare, and unlikely to blend into the surroundings of the sign.
As the sign assembly 14 is made of a translucent material, the sides
of the sign are fully lit and attractive to the eye as well so that
the presence of the sign may be easily detected from all perspectives
within a reasonable viewing distance.
Preferably the light source 32 is a neon bulb to uniformly illuminate
the translucent face 20, although other types of lights may suffice
without departing from the scope of the invention. It is to be appreciated
that multiple neon bulbs could alternatively be used to produce
different effects, and bulbs of different colors may be employed
to change the appearance of the sign 10.
The sign assembly 14 also preferably includes a solar cell 34 that
recharges the battery 30 during daylight hours. The operation of
the solar panel may be controlled with a photocell 36, which may
also serve to trigger the illumination of the sign at dusk. A switch
36 is provided on the exterior of the sign assembly 14 so that one
may turn the sign control system on after installation, and turn
the system off for storage or transport. Also, the intensity or
brightness of the light 32 may be adjusted manually by an optional
knob 32. The intensity of the light could also be monitored with
the control circuitry, further described below.
FIG. 3 illustrates the anchoring assembly according to the present
invention. An anchor 40 in the form of an auger is driven a sufficient
distance into the ground of the real estate 12 to provide a firm
anchor for the lighted real estate sign 10. The anchor 40 has a
shaft portion 42 that extends above the surface of the real estate
12. The mounting bracket 16 is fitted over the shaft portion 42,
and a nut 44 firmly connects the mounting bracket 16 to the extending
shaft 42, thereby anchoring the mounting bracket 16 to the parcel
of real estate 12. While the nut 44 prevents the mounting bracket
from being removed from the anchor 40, it does not prevent the mounting
bracket 16 from rotating about the anchor 40 along surface of the
real estate 12. In this fashion, the real estate sign 10 may be
pivoted about the anchor 40 after it is installed while the anchor
remains stationary in the ground. When the sign assembly 14 is locked
to the mounting bracket 16 with the locking assembly 18, the sign
assembly cannot readily be detached from the anchor. To remove the
anchor 40 from the real estate 12, the sign assembly 14 is detached
from the mounting bracket 16, the nut 44 is removed, and the anchor
40 is unearthed. With this configuration, theft of the sign 10 is
The locking assembly 18 that secures the sign assembly 14 to the
mounting bracket 16 is best seen in FIGS. 4 and 5. The mounting
bracket 16 is dimensioned to snuggly fit the bottom portion of the
sign assembly 14. A hole in the bottom of the sign assembly accommodates
the nut 44 that secures the mounting bracket 16 to the anchor 40.
Once the sign assembly 14 is inserted into the mounting bracket
16 the sign assembly is attached to the mounting bracket with clasps
42 on either side of the sign assembly. The buckle 44 of a clasp
is received by a tongue 46 on the mounting bracket 16 when the clasp
42 is placed at an angle relative to the sides of the sign assembly
14 and the mounting bracket 16. As the clasp 42 is closed, the buckle
44 is placed in tension as it rotates about the bottom of the clasp,
thereby pulling the sign assembly 14 and the mounting bracket 16
firmly together. When the clasps 42 on each side of the sign assembly
14 are closed in such a manner, the sign assembly is sturdily maintained
in an upright position inside the mounting bracket 16 and over the
top of the anchor 40.
Once the clasps 42 are closed, the lockable latch 48 attached to
one of the sides of the sign assembly 14 slips over a locking pin
50 attached to a corresponding side of the mounting bracket 16.
A padlock 54 is then inserted through an aperture 52 in the locking
pin 50 and closed, thereby locking the sign assembly 14 to the mounting
bracket 16. As noted above, the connection between the mounting
bracket 16 and the anchor 40 prevents the lighted real estate sign
10 from being removed from the ground when the locking assembly
18 engages the sign assembly 14 and secures it to the mounting bracket
16. While the above-described locking assembly 18 is preferred,
it is recognized that many alternative lock assemblies are available
to one of ordinary skill in the art to accomplish a secure connection
between the sign assembly 14 and the mounting bracket 16.
A schematic of the control system for the internal components of
the lighted real estate sign 10 is seen in FIG. 6. The switch 36
closes the circuit and places the battery 30 in operational connection
with a control circuit 56 that drives and monitors the various operational
components of the sign. It is recognized that the control circuit
56 could be constructed in many different ways and embody many different
forms yet still accomplish the same basic functions as the customized
circuitry developed by the inventor.
Using inputs on the circuit board the battery 30, the internal
light 32 of the sign assembly 14, the solar panel 34, and the photocell
36 are interfaced with the control circuit 56. Because a neon bulb
is used for the light source 32, a DC to AC converter 60 is provided
to drive the neon bulb.
Briefly, the control system operates as follows. The switch 36
completes the circuit, allowing the control circuit 56 to be powered
by the battery 30. During daylight hours, the control circuit operatively
connects the solar panel to the battery for recharging. At a predetermined
light setting, the photocell 36 triggers the control circuit to
energize the light 32 through the DC to AC converter 60. Therefore,
once the sign 10 is installed, the lighted real estate sign 10 will
automatically illuminate the translucent face 20 as the daylight
recedes. In order to prevent a complete discharge of the battery
30 and to minimize attention to the sign is as desired, such as
late at night, the control circuit may de-energize the light source
32 in response to a timer element 62, which may or may not be integral
with the control circuit 56. As the timer element 62 is adjustable
to user preference, the real estate sign may be de-energized as
desired. For instance, the system may be set to turn the light 32
off at a designated time each evening, or it may be set so that
the light is energized for a specific duration after the photo cell
36 triggers the system.
While a rechargeable battery is preferred in the present invention
for obvious reasons, the control system could be powered by a non-rechargeable
battery, or alternatively by direct connection to a 120 volt alternating
current power source. Likewise, the solar panel 34 could be replaced
by a standard charging port for connection to a power source to
recharge the battery.
While the present invention has been described by reference to
a specific embodiment it should be understood that modifications
and variations as would be apparent to one of ordinary skill in
the art are within the scope of the invention which is limited solely
by the claims and their equivalents.