Home billboards could save foreclosure, spell other issues - WSMV Channel 4

Home billboards could save foreclosure, spell other issues

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Foreclosure signs are still popping up all over the nation, but one entrepreneur thinks he has found a way to save homes by turning them into billboards.

The plan is big and bold, but some question whether it is legal.

"It's a broccoli green and a sunrise orange. Then what we are going to do is put our logo on there," said Romeo Mendoza, CEO of Brainiacs From Mars.

The idea is to turn a home into a billboard to avoid foreclosure.

"If you let us paint it on your house, we'll pay for your mortgage the entire time it's up," Mendoza said.

The agreement can last for a month or up to a year. Then, the company promises to paint the house back to the color of the homeowner's choice.

More than 44,000 homeowners across the country have applied for the program, including at least 300 applications in Nashville.

However, unless the home is commercially zoned, the billboard program might not be much help in Davidson County.

"If it is in a residential area, in anyway modifying a house to function as a sign - or to function as a billboard - is not allowed under our zoning code," said Metro Zoning Administrator Bill Herbert.

And the catch for local applicants looking for what may seem to be a sweet deal is that if a homeowner ignores local codes and allows the company to paint a billboard on the side of their house, then the homeowner may have more problems than before.

Violations can add up to fines for the homeowner, not the ad company.

And some neighbors feel the eyesore could even drop home values more than foreclosures would.

"The first point is they are exploiting those people that are having trouble paying their mortgage, and then the colors would be absolutely grotesque," said concerned neighbor Carol Caldwell.

Mendoza said Brainiacs From Mars plans to paint 3,000 homes next year and hopes to start in Nashville in January.

In the meantime, they are still asking for applications on their website http://brainiacsfrommars.com. There, they have a page for donations from the public to "save your neighbor's home."

Any homeowner considering a home billboard program should first check with their local codes department. Often, political and temporary signs are exempt from these zoning rules.

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