Below is an email I sent out to my local county council and to agents in the Columbia, SC area. It addresses a sign ordinance that materially affects our ability to do business effectively. Thanks in advance for reading! The county is Richland County in South Carolina.
Dear Council Members, This email is regarding the recent article in The State newspaper published in the Metro section on March 25, 2009. The article was titled "Council: Small for-sale signs are 'blights.' "Richland County Council dumped home builders' efforts to legalize small, temporary roadside signs Tuesday." "The vote to deny was 6-4..."
My name is Karen Yip, and I am a real estate broker in the Columbia area. I am also a constituent, taxpayer, and business woman. This issue regarding the signs not only affects my livelihood, but it will also affect how I vote in the near future.
As you know, the economy as a whole is already in a recession. Although we are in one of the stronger real estate markets in the country, real estate sales are down 30% YTD locally. My fellow Realtors and I work in a strictly commission based industry---our sales dictate our ability to make a living. Signage allows and encourages prospective buyers (especially those from OUT OF TOWN) to find our open houses and find the homes we are trying to sell for OTHER taxpayers.
To the angry homeowners who see the signs as 'street spam'--- you may have to deal with the "eyesore" temporarily, but too many homes for sale in your area or worse, foreclosures of homes that didn't sell will be even bigger "eyesores." It will affect your home values overall.
Another thing to consider--historically residential real estate sales coincide with the ebb and flow of economic numbers. Increase in real estate sales numbers reflect consumer confidence and in turn will affect the economy as a whole.
Penalizing those in the real estate industry who are trying to make a living and secondly improve local economic conditions by selling property is a huge mistake. A $500 fine for attempting to promote our business? How about the politician signs that litter the city and major roads? Who fines these politicians for this? At least our signs promote business and support the local economy through jobs for inspectors, appraisers, loan officers, attorneys, construction workers, and a litany of services that new homeowners seek--such as telephone and cable service.
All of this AFFECTS the very homeowners who are complaining of these 'blights.' Our job is challenging enough in this current economic downturn. It will be even tougher when one has to hope that a prospective buyer can find their way to a house without the assistance of signage. These signs are typically temporary, and removed by agents afterwards.
Tolerance by "angry homeowners' in my opinion is necessary. The bigger picture here is how it will affect Columbia's real estate market as a whole---rather than an adverserial approach, how about we work together for the common goal of increasing and maintaining property values while stimulating the local economy with sales?
Thank you to Norman Jackson, Damon Jeter, Paul Livingston, and Kelvin Washington for voting in the minority---in support of allowing signage.
To Joyce Dickerson, Val Hutchinson, Gwendolyn Davis Kennedy, Bill Malinowski, Greg Pearce, and Kit Smith: I ask that you reconsider on the next hearing regarding this issue.
The issue is not simply about appeasing the beautification advocates. It won't matter how beatiful the streets are if there continues to be a saturation of homes for sale, as the values will be ugly. This email is also being sent out to the entire real estate community. I implore all of you to contact your representative, and to attend the next hearing on this issue on April 7, 2009.
Karen Yip, Broker/Realtor 803.546.2112