Do we really need open-home direction signs?

by Alistair Helm


It is funny how you get use to things when you see them all the time and then for some reason they become highly conspicuous. That is what happened to me the other week when I noticed and thought how absurd direction signs are for open homes.

Think about it for a moment. A property for sale is largely discovered through email alerts and web searches. The street sign for a property is a valuable component of the process of real estate marketing effectively bringing to attention to the property for people in the local streets and to provide a beacon for the open home. But why do we need for direction signs to guide people to an open home?

More and more people use GPS to direct them to everything they need to find when out in the car – they enter the address in the car system or on their smartphone and get directions. It is now the case that there is no excuse for not being able to find an address especially as StreetView from Google provides that verification.

Direction signs fixed to lampposts and sandwich boards are not needed. They are another attempt by real estate companies to create brand presence for their company and the agent, not the home for sale. It is time to ban direction signs for open homes, they amount to visual pollution of our street at the weekends.

I know many local authorities are clamping down on their use. Here is the situation in Auckland as defined by the 2007 bylaws updated 28 Sep 2010 (clause 27.3.1).

1. Property for sale signs – only one allowed (even if a property is multiple listed). Size must not exceed 1.5m2 and must not be above 2 metres from the ground. The sign must be removed within 7 days of sale and total elapsed time must not exceed 3 months.

2. As far as open home signs are concerned agents are only allowed to place such signs on the day of the open home or auction; one outside the property and one at the nearest street corner. Each sign must note exceed 0.28m2, which is a bit bigger than A2 sized paper (4 x A4) and must not be above 1 metre from the ground.

3. The clause that I found interesting was “The display of a real estate banner flag on any vehicle parked on a public road during open home period or at an auction is illegal under this bylaw” – I have seem many of these banner type flags over the years and did not know they were illegal.

In reviewing these bylaws I intuitively feel that the majority of signs exceed these bylaws.

  • There are a lot of flags outside properties on Saturday's and Sunday's

  • There are often more than 2 directions signs and often signs are larger and placed high up on lampposts

  • These signs often stay in place after the open homes

  • I also feel that a sign with an real estate company logo and an agent name is not actually a directional sign for an open home, its a piece of advertising as there is no arrow or even the word open home!

Just as print media is being usurped by online marketing; so smartphone property apps and GPS mapping makes open home direction signs redundant so lets clean up our neighbourhoods and make our country beautiful.