- by Anne Fnlay-Stewart, Editor

Following up on a sea of signs that have popped up all over the region in the last few weeks and finally arrived in Owen Sound, we learned things we think the 25,000 plus folks who found our photo in their Facebook newsfeed might find interesting.

The "We Buy Houses" signs are part of a growing trend of "iBuyers" who offer a quick cash sale for homeowners.  There is a surge of this type of enterprise whenever life gets more tenuous for people whose income and livelihood is threatened - this time  by a pandemic and recession.  What people may not know is that most local realtors will offer free valuations of any home or property, and that the market is very hot right now, so there is no need to take less than the full value of your home.  One reader said a family member was offered $90,000 less than the real estate valuation by one of these "cash for houses" companies.  (And when you sell your house through a realtor you WILL get cash - less whatever you owe by contract with your mortgage-holder, utility companies, etc. That's how the system works unless the seller plans to run off into the night and stiff their creditors.)

The number on this sign is a VOIP (voice over internet protocol) number issued by a company called Iristel to a subscriber in North Bay.  The first few times we called, there was no ring - nothing.  For the next few hours, we heard a recorded female voice say "hold while we try to connect you" followed by a ringing, then a different female recorded voice saying more politely "Please hold while we try to connect you", followed by annoying hold music. 

By late afternoon, the hold music was ending with a "Your call has been forwarded to the automated voice mail of"...followed by a man's voice saying "Cash.....something." I've listened ten times and I'm not sure what he says.  I have not yet left a message.  Wanna-be sleuths or investigative reporters, feel free to go further than I.

Most of the signs people reported were on public property, in many municipalities, including Owen Sound, with sign by-laws that don't permit this type of sign placement for private businesses without permission.  Our by-law department here in the City works on a complaint basis, so residents would have to call in and get in the priority queue.  There is a reason this type of sign blitz often happens before a long weekend when municipal staff levels are lower.

One enterprising local woman made removing the signs a contest - offering an LCBO gift certificate for the person who could remove the most. Of course, the signs are the property of ..."We"?...so removing the signs from other than your own private property raises its own questions which I will not presume to answer. 

One reader felt that this sign blitz was a fair business practice and that "our famous reporter" and local realtors were only annoyed that an out-of-towner was doing it. They encouraged local business to compete the same way.  We do not agree. 

We're concerned for local residents and don't want anyone taking advantage of our neighbours who might be in difficult circumstances.  We hope those home-owners reach out for a conversation with someone they trust.

We encourage all businesses to obey the local by-laws and pay the associated fees, or negotiate any necessary or temporary exceptions with the municipality. 

And as a member of Owen Sound Waste Watchers - I do not want any of those plastic signs and their metal stands, placed by someone 350 km. away, to end up in our harbour, river or parks, only to be picked up in a future local trash pick-up.





CopyRight ©2015, ©2016, ©2017 of Hub Content
is held by content creators