Owners turn homes into billboards to save them from foreclosure

The economy is forcing homeowners to make some drastic decisions to save their homes.

But, would you be willing to turn your house into a giant billboard if it meant your mortgage got paid?

Here in Colorado, hundreds of people are saying yes. Through September this year, 22,920 homes have been foreclosed on in Colorado.

It’s a problem one company says it can help reduce–with one colorful catch.

Benjamin Clarke, 3, colors the concrete in his Denver backyard with bright chalk.

His mom, Anne, hopes bright colors will also soon blanket the outside of their entire home in Bear Valley.

“If our house is orange and blue or pink and purple whatever color they decide,” says Clarke.

It’s color that would mean green in their wallets–money they can especially use now, since Anne stopped working to raise her little boy.

She applied for the “Billboard Home Program” from BrainiacsFromMars.com.

The California marketing company is turning houses across America into billboards that promote their company.

They painted their first home in April in the company’s bright colors in Buena Park, California.

The homes stay painted for one month to one year.

“It’s win-win everywhere. We help homeowners. We pay their mortgage. But at the same time, these guys are doing us a favor, helping get our name out, helping generate business for us.”

The program gives homeowners some debt relief, especially for those trying to avoid foreclosure.

Already, 332 homeowners have applied from the Denver metro area.

Across the country, 44,327 homeowners have applied–including 37 schools, 24 churches and 85 restaurants.

“Temporarily, it would be fine. I don’t know what the neighbors would think,” says Anne, about how she feels to have neon-bright paint on her house.

At least, one neighbor wouldn’t like it.

“It doesn’t look professional, neat and tidy. It looks cheap,” says Kathy Marker.

But the company’s CEO, Romeo Mendoza, says a home that goes into foreclosure is even less attractive.

“If we didn’t paint the house, it could go into foreclosure or short sale which would impact the value of the house, the value of surrounding houses,” says Mendoza.

He says foreclosures can reduce the value of surrounding homes by as much as $220,000.

One foreclosure can also impose up to $34,000 in direct costs to local government agencies, including inspections, court actions, police and fire department visits, unpaid water and sewage, and trash removal, according to Mendoza.

The Clarkes aren’t worried about saving their home. But they hope the company can help them save money.

BrainiacsFromMars.com will repaint the home back to its original color when the contract with the homeowner expires.

Mendoza says in areas where signage is not allowed, they just paint the home in company colors.

He says they get enough of a return on their investment–in terms of interest and business.

The company plans to paint 3,000 homes in 2013. Mendoza did not know how many of those homes would be painted in Colorado.