The head of a Wellington-based estate agency, spoofed in an online poster campaign, says he finds many of the signs hilarious and respects people’s right to express their views.
A website designed to look like the Lowe and Co agency has been created by three Wellington programmers and allows users to insert their own slogans on the agency’s notice boards.
Contributors replaced ads with statements highlighting unaffordable home and rental prices and poor housing stock, all in the company’s white text on a black background.
It reads: “Are you looking for a place where your family can live? Sell us your blood and we’ll think about it.
* A year of wiped out capital gains in Wellington as home values plummet
* The enduring appeal of former state houses
* Calling on real estate agents to stop recommending unaccredited inspectors
Another reads: “You see a housing crisis. We see an opportunity for portfolio expansion.
Lowe and Co chief executive Craig Lowe said the spoofing of the company’s billboards was surprising.
“It’s kind of humbling to be honest, to have gotten so much attention. From our perspective, that says a lot about the power of the brand,” Lowe said.
“It’s a pretty fun tool for people to get creative and humorous in creating classic memes and some of the ones for us are hilarious. If you can’t laugh at yourself, you don’t deserve no laughing at someone else.
Lowe said many of the billboards were unrelated to real estate agents, and a friend compared the parodies to the public’s adoption of Tui’s “yeah, that’s right” ads.
“Which I think is a great analogy. We’ve always been ironic with our billboards, and I think that’s just an extension of that.
One of the co-creators of the scam website, programmer and designer Mix Irving, said the website and app took him, fellow programmer Sam Muirhead and a third friend, who didn’t want to be named, about 10 days to create.
Two of the three creators owned homes, but Irving said they all had friends who failed to get on the ladder.
“It’s heartbreaking to see how their luck is turning and how inaccessible housing is for so many people,” Irving said.
“I think it’s a societal issue, we’re all poorer if some of us don’t have housing, you know?”
An Instagram post hosting an image of fake billboards had over 36,000 likes, a tweet on the page received 279 retweets.
The scam website says it was created because the creators thought “bragging about being greedy middlemen in a housing crisis was a bit out of place”.
“We thought about defacing the billboards, but it takes effort (some of them are very tall),” the website reads.
“Then we realized that we could give everyone the power to write their own messages; to shape our collective narrative.
In response to the “greedy” label, Lowe said he and his staff were always respectful that they worked in a difficult environment for first-time home buyers and where pricing had become exclusive.
“From our point of view, we are not influencing the market in one direction, but we are an easy target”
“At the end of the day, when you put yourself out there, you have to expect some people to come out with stuff that isn’t so nice, but we can laugh at ourselves at the same time – and that’s fine. also .”
“We care deeply that all generations can afford a home, and we’re happy to be part of the affordable housing conversation.”
Dummy website for sale with proceeds going to housing projects
The faked website is also up for sale, with proceeds going to an organization improving housing affordability.
“As knowledgeable investors, we have added a lot of value to this now luxurious and well-appointed estate,” it read.
“The current RV (rateable value) is approximately $10,000 and will only increase. The sale will be through a complex and opaque bidding process in the future. We are currently investigating local projects related to housing to donate the proceeds from the sale.
Irving said the trio planned to launch a tongue-in-cheek Trade Me auction.
They hadn’t decided which supplier to choose.
“We’re looking at some good games right now because I realize you can’t just throw money at random people,” Irving said.