CRAVEN COUNTY - A California company is turning houses into billboards. In exchange for ad space, they are paying people's mortgages. The idea is sparking some interest in New Bern.
"I'm not surprised," said Donna Woodruff, a Broker Sales Associate for Coldwell Banker Willis-Smith Company in New Bern. "I think any time you're offering to pay someone's mortgage, you are going to get their curiosity up."
More than 50 people in New Bern have applied to have their houses transformed into billboards. Brainiacs From Mars officials say they will pay the homeowner's entire mortgage payment during every month the ad is up. CEO Romeo Mendoza says the company is hoping to save people from foreclosures.
"This isn't a non-profit organization, but we are hoping to help families. Even if we can just help one family, it will be worth it," says Mendoza.
Only one house has been painted so far. It is in California. But starting January 2013, Brainiacs From Mars is planning to deck out 3,000 homes with ads. Each house may sport a different ad, but all of them will have one thing in common - the color.
"We're going for broccoli green and sunset orange," said Romeo Mendoza.
Homeowner Penny Owen-Keiper says she would rather have a billboard house next door than a foreclosure.
"I would tell them to go for it. If it would help save their house, most definitely, because the way times are now, everybody has to do what they have to do," said Owen-Keiper.
Most houses will sport one main ad with a few logos. Participants won't have any say on what the ad will be that gets painted on their house, but Mendoza says the ad will be appropriate.
"You're not going to see any tobacco; you're not going to see any alcohol; you're not going to see any gambling. We've been meeting with large discount brands and movie production companies," said Mendoza.
Some residences won't be able to apply for the makeover.
"I don't know how this could work in some communities. I don't think people are aware that there are some restrictive covenants," said Woodruff.
Several cities across the U.S. restrict advertising on property. In situations such as this, Mendoza says they may choose houses just to paint.
Ads must stay up for at least a month and can be up for a year. After the term is complete, Brainiacs From Mars will come and repaint your house however you like.
Mendoza says some have argued the bright paint and large ads could decrease property value. He says home-billboards will actually keep property values higher by preventing hard-hitting foreclosures.
Billboards may not be limited to houses. Mendoza says they have had requests for businesses, schools and churches to participate as well.
To apply to have your home painted click here.