Monday, April 3, 2017


No 'Coming Soon" allowed
While the Maplewood real estate market continues a growth boom that has been ongoing for years, realtors remain frustrated by Township limits on signs they use to promote their properties.

The current ordinance on the basic signs used in front of homes up for sale has remained unchanged for years, with strict limits on what the signs can promote and how many parts they can have.

While an ordinance up for review Tuesday before the Township Committee expands the flexibility in one part of the signage, real estate agents contend it does not go far enough.

A three-rider sign on Valley Street
"The biggest thing for me is that it evolves, business evolves, things change," said Mark Slade of Keller-Williams. "It's not fully realistic to today's marketing needs ... In this day and age, buyers are so used to getting all of the information they can. We are able to do that on the Internet, but not on the signs."

At issue are two current limits in the Township signage ordinance that regulate the traditional 'For Sale' signs placed in front of marketed homes.

The first limit only allows such properties to be promoted as "For Sale," "For Rent," and "Under Contract." These are usually placed in what are known as "riders," the small, additional part of the sign either placed on the top or hanging at the bottom of the main sign.

They also allow "Open House" riders, but only during the time of the open house.

In recent years, however, realtors have added riders that promote the property as "Coming Soon," and even "Coming Soonish." These are placed before the property is formally for sale and as a way to garner attention sooner. But they are in violation of the current ordinance.

The second restriction allows only one such rider to be added to a sign, a limit that is violated often in Maplewood.

The proposed ordinance to be introduced Tuesday would expand the rider limit from one to two per sign.

Mayor Vic Deluca
"They have made the case that often times you need to have the rider on top describing what it is," Mayor Vic Deluca said about the proposed change. "They need to have one other rider because often times you contact the realtor by a cell phone number. We're allowing a second rider sign to be added."

But he said the limits on the wording used to promote the property will not change to add "Coming Soon" or other options because that would allow too many signs when they are not needed.

"We decided to just stay with the terms we have 'For Sale,' 'For Rent' and 'Under Contract' because you end up with a proliferation of signs that say those three things plus a 'Coming Soon'," Deluca said. "One of the issues is you don't want to give the appearance of a lot of sales when they're not really sales and things like that."

He also said, "There's no legal definition of what 'Coming Soon' is."

But some realtors disagreed, saying the 'Coming Soon' and other options are needed.

"I'm not quite sure why 'Coming Soon' signs are an issue," said  Michael Pennisi, Coldwell Banker's Maplewood branch vice president. "To have 'Coming Soon' signs is not a bad thing."

Victoria Carter of Weichert Realtors agreed.

"It's ridiculous," she said. "There is no reason you shouldn't have 'Coming Soon.' It is pre-marketing, there is no downside to it. Nobody else has these restrictions. I don't understand it."

The proposed ordinance will be introduced at Tuesday's Township Committee meeting set for 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall, 574 Valley St. If it is approved, a public hearing will be held in two weeks before a final vote.

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