Government officials in Fremont, California, are mulling the idea limiting the number of open house signs real estate professionals can put up in the neighborhoods where they operate.
Officials said they’re considering imposing limits after receiving numerous complaints from residents about open house signs cluttering street corners and sidewalks. They also cite complaints from other real estate agents who say there’s too much competition for open houses.
“It’s out of control,” Fremont Councilman Raj Salwan told the East Bay Times. “To be the big guy in town, you’ve got to have a million signs. That’s what’s happening.”
Fremont, like many U.S. cities, already has laws that limit signage, but officials say the rules are not enough to stop the practice. That’s despite the city issuing over $32,000 worth of fines due to violations of those rules between October 2018 and October 2019.
One real estate broker in the city, Timothy Crofton, said he personally has been fined “thousands of dollars” over the last year due to signs he’s put up.
“I do an average of 10 signs per house, so we average around 100 signs per week,” he said.. “And during the summertime, we can bump it up to 200 if I have twice as many listings.”
He explained that signage is a key marketing tool and that placing limits on the number he can put up would harm his business.
But other real estate agents say the practice has gotten out of control and that they’re forced to put up dozens of signs in order to compete. Mattie Wei told the East Bay Times that she has to put up around 20 signs for each home in order to stand out against other listings.
“Our listings are next to each other, and if I place five signs, what do you think my seller will say to me? ‘Mattie, you don’t have enough signs,’” she said.
Fremont City Council’s said it will introduce new rules limiting the number of signs agents can put up in February. And the move is supported by the Bay East Association of Realtors.
“We have real estate professionals who are very proud of the job they do representing their clients, and they see these illegally placed signs as a negative stain on the reputation of real estate professionals,” David Stark, a spokesman for the association, told the East Bay Times. “This is a unique situation where we’re really welcoming more regulation because we believe that everyone is ultimately going to benefit from better rules and more consistent enforcement of those rules.”