Supreme Court Ruling Could Kill All Open House Signs?

Services for Real Estate Pros with SMARTePLANS; Houston, Texas

Interesting article in Inman News today about a recent Supreme Court ruling that threatens to make open house signs obsolete.  It has to do with municipality's sign code and their ability to regulate the signs based on content. Previously real estate enjoyed an exemption that may be now gone. 


"....the  court ruled that any sign regulation must be content-neutral so as not to deny free speeach. A city can impose restrictions on the sign, type and placement of a sign --- but not the message."  Sam DeBord, Inman News


Potentially cities can no longer exempt realtors. So, if a city allows everyone to now put up signs ... the butcher , the baker, the hardware store now have as much right to plant a directional sign on the esplanade as an agent using a directional sign for an open house.... which will overrun the space and cause sign sprawl making rights-of-way cluttered and unmanageable. 


So the revese will likely now become the new norm .. instead of a few signs for exemptions that will now need to be defended in court.. for a city ... MUCH easier to go with NO SIGNS (for anyone)


It was argued that in these days of technology, smart phones and GPS ... realtors really don't need to post signage anymore --- consumers can easily navigate to the open house.


So how would  this affect your business if your municipality decides to go the NO SIGNS route ... because it is undeniably less expensive, less tedious and less time consuming to implement?


Thanks for Dropping By,


Judith, The SMARTePLAN Lady




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Comments (5)

Raymond E. Camp
Ontario, NY

Good afternoon Judith,

Personally the Feds shouldn't have their nose in the States business.

As I only occasionally get someone stopping because of the sign and have had only one sale it would not hurt.

Make yourself a great day.

Dec 04, 2015 02:02 AM
Judith Sinnard

Hi Raymond, the feds were invited in because it was taken to the Supreme Court:   "....  The town of Gilbert, Arizona, recently took a sign code case all the way to the Supreme Court. The town’s ability to regulate the content and manner in which temporary directional signs are displayed is at issue."

Totally guessing and reading between the lines I'm thinking some other non-realtor business entity in Gilbert objected to Realtors having this signage ability and not them. The town contended they had the right to regulate it ... and the SCOTUS decision says you can regulate size, type and placement .. but once you start regulating on CONTENT --- then it becomes a free-speech issue and as a municipality you do not have that right. Thanks for coming by to comment.

Dec 04, 2015 02:14 AM
Ronald DiLalla
Century 21 Discovery DRE 01813824 - Anaheim, CA
No. Orange Cty Real Estate

Leave it to the government to screw things up..tks for sharing with us in AR land.

Dec 04, 2015 02:15 AM
Judith Sinnard

I was kind of surprised to see SCOTUS ruling on diddly little open house signs ... but such is the world we've created. Thanks for coming by to comment.

Dec 04, 2015 02:21 AM
David Gibson CNE, 719-304-4684 ~ Colorado Springs Relocation
Colorado Real Estate Advisers LLC - Colorado Springs, CO
Relocation, Luxury & Lifestyle residential

I hope that doesn’t come to fruition but we don’t have a lot of open houses in our market. In metro markets like Houston it would be a greater hardship.

Dec 04, 2015 10:30 AM
Judith Sinnard

It effects the directional signs on municipal land pointing "Open House This Way"... not the one in yard .. I'm not sure how many use/need the directional signs anymore? Thanks for coming by.

Dec 05, 2015 01:53 AM
Myrl Jeffcoat
Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Realtor - Retired

That's an interesting development.  It will be equally interesting to see if it becomes challenged in the future.  A lot of Open House traffic comes from those signs.  

Dec 04, 2015 11:22 AM
Judith Sinnard

It will be interesting to see if the Agents "fight for it" in each of their own areas .. otherwise its a heckuva lot easier for the city to just say "Ok.. we're done with this.. no more signs for anyone. period".  Thanks for dropping by

Dec 05, 2015 01:55 AM
Ricki Eichler McCallum
CastNet Realty - Corpus Christi, TX
Broker,GRI,ABR, e-Pro, TAHS

I'm for doing away with Open houses anyway.  They rarely work in our area and I dont like spending a fortune for one or two lookers to come by if that.  For other areas, where open houses work, I think it is terrible for the agents.  I like the signs, they are helpful in directing buyers.

Dec 05, 2015 02:32 AM
Judith Sinnard

They work for us in Houston and I kind of think taking the little directional signs down may hurt. We have a lot of master-planned communities where the streets don't connect all the way through and its easy to get turned around and find yourself on a cul de sac one block over from where you thought you were (Yes, I'm talking about You ..The Woodlands). Thanks for dropping by and commenting.  

Dec 05, 2015 02:56 AM