Representing Homeowners When They Don’t Know They Need Representation
Thursday, March 09, 2017
Written By: Savannah Olson
Over the past several months, members of the Williamson County Association of REALTORS® have been involved in working with city leaders in Cedar Park and Leander on their development of sign ordinances which impact REALTORS’ ability to market homes successfully. Association members Darian Rausch and Christy Gessler and the Association’s Governmental Affairs Director, Kent Prickett have been instrumental in shedding light on some problematic ordinances the cities were considering implementing. Although these ordinances create obstacles to REALTORS®, the bigger issue is how they cripple a homeowner’s ability to sell property.
Before the group’s involvement in negotiating adjustments to the proposed sign ordinance for Leander, the City was considering practices and fees which would cost REALTORS® money by discarding open house signs and charging penalty fees to brokerages and REALTORS® for violations. Fortunately, the team negotiated with the City of Leander to loosen the regulations. Although the rules are still strict and penalties exist, they do allow for Open House activity in Leander.
The City of Cedar Park is in the final stages of public hearings prior to passing the recommended sign ordinance changes. Christy Gessler, Broker of the Cedar Park Keller Williams office, spoke at the first public hearing in February about the implications of the proposed rules. These include prohibiting “Temporary Signs” throughout the City Limits & ETJ of the city. This eliminates our ability to post directional signs for open houses along Cedar Park’s main arteries. The proposed policy only allows placement of open house signs in the front yard of the open house.
The most disturbing proposed change would apply to For Sale/Lease signs, which are also considered “Temporary Signs”. Under the new rules these signs, when posted on private property (aka: on the premises of the property which is for sale), would be only allowed to stay posted for 180 days. After the 180 days, the requirements call for removal for 30 days before they can be posted for another 180 days.
While the 180-day rule would have little to no impact on listings which sell quickly in the current seller’s market, there are other properties which don’t appeal to the majority of our market and take longer to sell. The market hardest hit by this rule would be the commercial sector, which has an average Days On Market rate of 300+ days. Fortunately, due to the efforts of Christy Gessler, the City of Cedar Park may reconsider these limitations.
The Williamson County Association of REALTORS® staff works hard to keep the membership informed of National, State and Local issues. They work long hours in areas that extend beyond their job titles. We must accept that part of our duty to the public is to work together as an Association to participate in shaping policy that impacts our current and future clients. Homeowners may never know what WCREALTORS has done to help them, but the intervention was and is a critical part of fulfilling a section of the NAR Code of Ethics Preamble which encompasses more than most people realize.
In recognition and appreciation of their obligations to clients, customers, the public, and each other, Realtors® continuously strive to become and remain informed on issues affecting real estate and, as knowledgeable professionals, they willingly share the fruit of their experience and study with others.
Ideally, REALTORS would have input long before policies like these make it to final public hearings. Cedar Park has been working on ordinance changes for over a year and were, understandably, confused as to why it was being challenged at the last minute. If more REALTORS® sit on advisory boards, committees like Planning and Zoning or run for public office, we would have the opportunity to better represent the homeowners who become our clients before they realize they need representation.
About the Author:Savannah Olson is an Austin native and REALTOR. A graduate of The University of Texas at Austin, Savannah enjoyed a 20-year career in Advertising and Marketing. As a REALTOR, she concentrates on providing community driven services that are responsive to the most challenging housing needs. She’s committed to increasing awareness of these needs through her writing and marketing skills. Savannah also the founder of the Elderly Awareness Project, which is dedicated to exposing the elderly housing crisis from aging at home to skilled nursing facilities. Email Savannah at SvnnOlson@gmail.com