Paper Money - Paper Tales

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Nutcase Neighbor - Stealing Open House Signs

Read this recent post from the GardenWeb's Buying and Selling Homes Forum... It seems neighbors are starting to play dirty!


This is long, but worth it.

You may think this sounds made up, but it really happened on Sunday.

We're in a subdivision in suburban Milwaukee, and our home is listed with a limited service broker. There are several homes for sale in our neighborhood, some using limited service places and some using full service places. We advertise our open houses, both via signage and through the newspaper. We advertised an open house on Sunday from 2-5.

As we left for the Race for the Cure on Sunday morning (at around 8:30am), I placed an "Open House" sign at the entrance of the subdivision. This happens every Sunday, and usually everybody takes them down after their open house. There are some laws that regulate these signs in the city, but the city pretty much doesn't care as long as it doesn't get obnoxious or nobody complains. Signs have been in this location for years - it's never a big deal. I talked to the guy whos yard these signs are in - at least on the very outside of his lot. He said it would be fine, and it's never a problem. He said he doesn't like it when they're out there all week, but he said he knew that I always took mine down promptly. Cool.

Now it's noon, and we're just getting back from the race. My sign is gone. So are the other signs. The only one that's left a sandwich board sign for a Realtor's open house…at this one:

This house is about a block away from the signs.

Hmm. I first ask the guy I talked to before, and he said, "I saw they were gone about an hour after you talked to me." I then stopped by the Open House and asked the Realtor. I wouldn't expect a Realtor would do this, buy hey, I should be able to shake it out of them. Nope - she knew nothing. I happened to glance into her car on the way back to my car, and no signs.

So I put another sign that I had in the van out. My wife dropped my off at the house so I could clean the place up and get things ready in peace (without the kids).

It's now 1:55, and the Open House starts in 5 minutes. I question whether or not I should go down and check the signs. I almost talk myself out of it, but then I decide what the hell. I drive down there. Just as I'm approaching, I see the homeowner of the house above WALKING THROUGH HIS YARD TOWARD HIS GARAGE WITH MY OPEN HOUSE SIGN IN HIS HANDS. I slam on the brakes, exit the car, and bound up his (crappy) yard and demand to know, "what in the hell are you doing with my sign!?!?!" His kids are there. Neighbors are outside. I'm very loud. I'm very big. I'm very very intimidating. He is none of these.

He starts out with, "this sign is illegal! You can't put those there! You're breaking the law!" I then demand he return my sign. "No! I'm throwing it away!" I then pull it away from him. He didn't really have much of a choice there. I then start walking back to my car. The guy follows me. "Get out off my property! I'm calling the police!" I then said, "go ahead - you can then explain why you've stolen my property and the property of others." He goes onto to scream things about me "breaking the law" and that "I have no right to put those signs there" and that it doesn't matter if I got the property owners' permission. Hmm. I then asked him why he decided to take action against these signs now. Could it be that he owns a piece-of-crap home and that due to his incredibly poor landscaping and decorating job that he's sat on the market for this long? I'm I my car now, and then, get this, HE REACHES IN THE PASSENGER WINDOW AND TRIES TO GRAB MY SIGN. I pull back on it, and explain that if he does that again I'll open my car door and surely knock him out - I then smile and said, "I promise I will." He lets go.

Back to my house. I call the police. Open House visitors show up. It goes great. I explain it to the officer. I basically said, "if, for some reason, the sign was out there illegally, I would expect to hear from either the police or the city - I don't expect some nut to start enforcing the law for himself. Apparently, in his eyes, the law applies to only those in direct competition with himself." The officer agrees, and goes to "talk to him."

An hour later the guy pulls into my driveway. He tells me that he's put all the signs back out there, and that he's sorry and got "hot." He then tries to hand me a $20 to pay for the sign that he wrecked.

"Just shake my hand and apologize," I said. "I don't want your money."

There you go. Fun and games in the selling my home.


  • I'll bet the guy was trying to refi and didn't want a lower comp. Just a guess though.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:47 AM  

  • I love it. A pox on this seller. May the bank forcefully foreclose on his home in such a righteous way.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:03 PM  

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