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Alistair Helm says it is time to ban direction signs for open homes; 'they amount to visual pollution'

Alistair Helm says it is time to ban direction signs for open homes; 'they amount to visual pollution'

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 streets 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.

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. 


The above article was written by Alistair Helm, and is republished with his approval. The article was originally published on Properazzi here

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Really ?
Is it that bad for you ?
Welcome to NZ''s biggest city. There is plenty of countryside out there for you to go and live in should these signs get to be too much for you.
Of course when it comes time to sell your own house you wont require any signs will you. Everyone will just flock to your house and put in offers, even the house hunters that did not know there was an open home and happened by, liking your house and actually buying it.
t can happen ...
Matt the lad

Oh man Alistair you are so easily offended.
Better get some more cotton wool and wrap up securely!

LOL - more to the point - do our minds need to be polluted by "Do we need open-home signs?" type articles?

Yes, especially where,
a) They staple signs to railings and leave sharp staples in the wood for kids to rip their hands on (been there seen that)
b) The a**holes repeatedly plonk left and right signs on my  front lawn/verge in front of the house.
Especially where GPS are < $150 now.

Peak signage. 

[Comment irrelevant to this story removed. Ed]

I cant believe everyone is being so flippant about what is a desperately serious issue.
In other breaking news, my cat is stuck in a tree.

Better get it down quick. An errant R/E agent might hit it with the staple gun whilst posting thier latest open home directional offering.

Gareth M will be round soon with a rifle ... i mean ...err ....ladder to help with cat problem =)

Picture this, you are a young Auckland couple, with a $100,000 deposit (having sold your 51" TV, ipad, leather couch, Sky subscription, new Mazda 6, Samsung S4, etc) & you are driving to 2 open homes  -  well, you might see an Open Home sign & be swayed to visit/buy the $600k house  -  with another $20k injection to your deposit from your credit card.

some busy body from the council has been around pt chev putting stupid orange stickers on garage sale signs saying 'these are illegal signs'
But agent signs everywhere are no problem?

As long as it is not on my front berm they can do what they like. If my house is for sale then fair enough but if it is no for sale then why should I have to put up with a sign on my front berm. (we are not talking direction arrows but full blown signs)

First world problems.

Well quite frankly most people should have far more to be concerned about than a few directional signs.
I actually quite like the signs out, when I'm randomly driving about I often go for a look to see what is on offer, what the buyer and seller expectations are, and what the RE agents are having to say about property. 
Heading off to the auction rooms is also another way of keeping your eye on what the market is really doing. Although I do prefer livestock auctions over realestate ones, the former have far more character attached.

In 2009 I was drive around west Auckland looking to purchase a rental property. I went to a few open homes that I had identified on When I had finished checking them out and was heading back home I saw an open home sign on McLeod road, I stopped the car and went in for a look. I purchased that property on the day.