MALA Amended Realtors’ Sign Rules and Regulations

Amendment to the MALA Policy Concerning Realtor “For Sale” Signs:

Background and Authority

Merifield Acres Landowners’ Association (MALA) has a policy providing that enforcement of the covenant prohibition on signs will not be undertaken if the signs comply with certain specifications and terms designed by MALA to be consistent with protecting the aesthetic quality of Merifield Acres. A major portion of what is known as Merifield Acres is subject to covenants that prohibit any sign on a lot. However, the primary purpose of the covenants is to “enhance the value of the lots therein”. MALA realizes that one way that lot owners may benefit from the effect of the covenants is to receive the best price possible when their lot is sold. Further, the best price is also likely a product of exposure afforded by a “for sale” sign placed on the lot by a realtor. MALA does not have the authority to change the covenants. Thus, to reconcile these apparent contradictions (sign prohibition and enhanced value), MALA has determined that it will not enforce the sign prohibition for realtor signs that meet MALA’s specifications and terms. Thus, MALA has invoked the well-established regulatory concept of “enforcement discretion” in an effort to accommodate the conspicuous interests of Merifield Acres lot owners.

Purpose of the Amendment

In the recent past, realtor signs have departed from the specifications and terms of the MALA policy by the addition of features to signs that are intended to draw attention to the signs. Such features include flagging tape, plastic flowers, balloons, add-on agent name signs and a variety of information panels. The existing policy required a specific green color for the signs, but a variety of shades of green was present in the community. MALA has undertaken to address the departures from existing policy, as well as other aspects of the sign policy that needed correction. In considering amendments to the policy, MALA carefully balanced the interests of lot owners who wish to sell their property and MALA’s overarching responsibility to maintain an attractive community.

As a part of MALA’s efforts to amend the policy, local realtor representatives were consulted as well as key individuals within Merifield Acres with historical knowledge about sign policy, and expertise on enforcement. The realtor community was advised that the add-on features would not be acceptable, with the possible exception of information panels.

Existing Policy and Reasons for the Amendment

The existing policy tied the sign color to brand-name paint and color that is not available to sign manufacturers. This specification is changed to tie the sign color to the color used by MALA for its street signs and not a specific paint.

The existing policy did not address information panels which are added by the realtor at the request of the lot owner in the listing agreement. The information panel usually contains specific information about the property. The amended policy includes specifications for information panels and sign orientation.

The existing policy specified that signs were to be placed in the center of the front lot line. This specification did not accommodate corner lots. The amended policy deletes the center specification, but makes clear that signs must be placed on the lot and not on common areas.

The existing policy provided that MALA would inspect installed signs and remove signs that did not comply with the policy. It was determined that this enforcement approach was not authorized by the covenants and thus is deleted in the amended policy. The enforcement approach provided in the covenants of notice and civil court is the only enforcement mechanism available to MALA.

The existing policy included a term that limits to ten (10) the number of signs a realtor could have in Merifield Acres. MALA could not find a rationale related to the purpose of the policy to support this limitation and thus it is eliminated in the amended policy.

The existing policy did not establish the term of the sign on a lot. The amended policy provides that the sign must be removed when the lot is sold or when the listing agreement expires.

Effective Date

The amended policy is effective as of February 12, 2008, when it was adopted by the MALA Board of Directors. However, MALA will consider any relevant comments or documents submitted to the Board by April 1, 2008, that may be critical to the effectiveness of the policy. This approach is taken because some of the records of the Association are dispersed and all relevant records may not have been considered, and the relevant recollections of persons formerly involved with MALA may not have been considered.

Realtor “For Sale” signs will be permitted under the following conditions:

  1. The sign shall be 18 inches high by 24 inches wide.
  2. The body of the sign shall be a green consistent with the road signs within Merifield Acres. The lettering shall be white and of professional quality.
  3. The sign shall be positioned on the lot that is for sale and not on the common area property. Signs without information panels may be parallel or perpendicular to the roadway. Signs with information panels shall be perpendicular to the roadway with the information panel attached to the back edge of sign (facing towards the subject property)
  4. Information panels shall be clear with black or green trim.
  5. The sign shall be self supporting, with the top edge no higher than 30 inches from the ground.
  6. Only one realtor sign allowed per lot.
  7. The realtor sign shall be removed after the property is sold or the listing has expired.

amended June 10, 2008