While reviewing yet another months’ worth of dismal real estate market activity and sales figures, I think it may well be time to consider lifting the archaic “For Sale” sign ban. Previous arguments for and against seem irrelevant when considering that allowing a more level playing field between FSBOs [For Sale By Owners] and Realtors just might create an environment in which many sellers can actually leave the closing table with a check or at least avoid a short sale.

Many homeowners who have purchased property over the last few years with valuations at peak levels or with substantially high loan-to-value ratios would be the primary beneficiaries. Builders and rehabbers saddled with inventory may be able to discount an additional 5 or 6 points to cut a deal that would not substantially affect comparable market data, a very real problem in recent months. Sellers who have resided in their homes for quite a while could lower prices a bit in similar fashion.

I am not suggesting that real estate agents are unnecessary or financially burdensome. I have many professional brokers as friends and, if anything, the service they provide is more important now than ever. What I would like to see is a bit more parity between Realtors and sellers who are capable of selling their own homes. There are many online sources for sellers allowing multiple listing service access for a fee. Allowing tasteful, discreet real estate for sale signage would provide another appropriate sales tool.

Please do not respond with skewed statistics showing that for sale signs are not effective marketing tools. They are. I have sold at least 60 percent of our projects to folks who happened to see the sign. Panic peddling and blockbusting are, thankfully, things of the past.

I further suggest involving village government in creating an ordinance that suits everyone, something we all know the village does best. In that spirit, I suggest the following:

1) Fund a study. Spend precious local tax dollars having an outsider tell us what is good for us.

2) Schedule lots of meetings: Discuss it ad nauseum.

3) Neighborhood forums: “Design a sign” and hope your neighbor with the plastic lawn ornaments stays home.

4) Regulate it: There must be a page or two we can add to our rules and regulations.

5) Permit it: Another layer in the approval process and perhaps a sign committee or board of sorts.

6) FEE IT TO DEATH: I am most confident that the village would be more than happy to collect additional revenue. I can only assume this would be somehow tied to your selling price.

7) Enforce it: The fees can then be used to hire a “Signage enforcement officer” who can walk the neighborhoods writing citations and collect yet more revenue.

For fear of sounding cynical, all I would really like to see is an elimination of an ordinance that restricts my constitutional right to freedom of speech. I think most rational adults can understand that.

Ed Messina

LMS Residential, Galewood/Oak Park


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