The enforcement of front yard signage restrictions in The Villages North of CR 466 has many residents up in arms.
I'm hearing chatter on forums, on Facebook, and I've got people writing in asking about it after I mentioned it in last month's issue of The Villages Monthly. So, I wanted to write this post just so I can direct people to my thoughts on the issue.
And the sign said “Long-haired freaky people need not apply”
First, a little background
Existing deed covenants and restrictions in most of The Villages prohibit any sign in your yard with the exception of your name sign and what are deemed “life safety” signs that are typically posted up close to the front of the home such as security system signs, medical personnel alert signs, and the like.
This restriction includes signs advertising that your house is For Rent or For Sale, however those types of signs ARE allowed to be posted in a window as long as they are 12” x 12” or smaller.
Despite the negative feelings some people have about it, “no signs” is actually a pretty popular restriction in communities throughout Florida, especially in newer communities. The reasoning behind the restriction is that these types of signs can be an eyesore, especially given the range of colors, sizes, and quality of signs available.
It's important to note that this has not really been an issue South of 466 as this restriction has always been enforced. The main problems have occurred with the sudden enforcement of the restriction North of 466 which started on or around the middle of June.
Some residents of The Villages seem to think that this is some type of ploy by the developer to make it harder for people to sell their homes, but this doesn’t really seem like the case to me because the developer is supposed to abide by these restrictions as well.
I think that as long as this is what actually occurs, the restriction is a good one, and there should not be any major issues.
While I can't predict whether or not there will be major issues or blowback about this restriction in The Villages, I can share with you what I've seen in some other communities I've lived in and/or sold homes in.
The sign said you got to have a membership card to get inside
A Happy Medium
Some communities that, rather than prohibiting these signs altogether, force residents to purchase a uniform sign, the design of which has been approved by the community standards committee. This seems to work well for these communities.
To the Extreme
But in another case, the no signs restriction was a lot tougher…you couldn’t have a For Sale or For Rent sign in your yard or your window.
The catch though, was that the developer could have for sale signs in the yard. So if you owned a home that you were trying to sell, you were at a distinct disadvantage compared to the developer.
Needless to say, even though they were supposed to be aware of it when they purchased and signed saying they received and read the covenants and restrictions, this left a very bad taste in a lot of people's mouths.
It also caused problems between neighbors who, whether they agreed with the restriction or not, followed the rules, and those who did not. Some people desperate to sell their homes simply said screw it and put signs up. If they were taken down they put up another.
People tried getting around this rule so many weird and funny ways, like putting signs on their cars or in their driveways.
The community hadn't really evolved to the point of having a code enforcement or standards enforcement committee, so the developer's sales staff were recruited to drive around taking pictures of homes in violation of the rule and reporting these infractions back to the developer.
In one case (and thankfully it was only one case) things escalated between the developer and one homeowner to the point of the law being called and the homeowner being cuffed and taken to jail.
And the sign said anybody caught trespassin' would be shot on sight
Don't Drink the Kool-Aid
Real estate agents have been some of the most vocal critics of the enforcement. There is a stat that I read from the National Association of Realtors which says that something like 1 in 5 or 1 in 6 home sales are a result of a sign being in the yard.
A few agents like to wave this stat around in defense of allowing their yard signs, while other agents are more realistic and will tell you that the main function of real estate signs in yards is to get THEIR name and/or the name of their company more visibility.
To be honest, if you are really trying to sell or rent your home in this day and age, you really should do it through channels other than a sign in the yard, or even the window for that matter. But that's a whole other article for another day.
Let me know what you think about the sign restrictions in the comments below.