Are Real Estate For Sale Signs Required?

Mar 17, 2024

A common question we get from home sellers – and from some buyers – “are real estate For Sale signs required to be displayed on property for sale?” In the vast majority of instances, yes – a For Sale sign is required if the listing agent is a member of the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS). But the MLS allows exclusions for sellers who prefer not to display a sign.

Why would a seller NOT want a sign in their yard? Perhaps they don’t want neighbors to know they are selling. Maybe they don’t want to risk squatters breaking into the home if it is vacant. Whatever the reason, the seller always has the final word on whether a sign will be displayed.

Let’s say the seller does want a For Sale sign displayed. Who has jurisdiction over how the sign is designed and placed? Perhaps more entities than most of us might think. Here’s a quick summary of sign types, the usual governing agency, and typical practices and regulations:

Overall size of the sign (HOA, city/county regulators): Most standard For Sale signs are 18″ x 24″ or 18″ x 36″. Some neighborhoods limit sign size to 12″ x 18″. Some HOAs prohibit signs of any size.

Sign content (state regulators): In most states, minimum information is required, such as the name and license number of the brokerage that is listing the property for sale. Brokerages may add requirements, such as displaying the brokerage’s office phone number and web site.

Sign graphic design (agent or employing broker): Some brokerages require that all agents use their basic sign design, others allow agents to add their own graphics for personal branding purposes.

Placement (city/county regulators): Signs may typically be placed at only one location on the property (commercial and large rural properties excluded). Signs may not be placed on public property or in a neighbor’s yard without the owner’s permission.

Open House signs (city/county regulators): Signs announcing an open house and providing directions to it may be placed throughout the nearby community, often no earlier than one hour prior to start of the open house and must be removed within an hour after the open house. Temporary open house signs may not be placed on sidewalks, private property, or in medians between streets.

Sign riders (city/county regulators): Most local sign laws restrict the number of riders agents may attach to their signs. Riders are those small signs attached to the top cross bar of the sign frame or directly to the hanging sign. We often see 4, 5 and as many as 6 riders – even when local regulations restrict riders to 2.

These are just a few of the restrictions that may be placed on For Sale and informational signs placed to support a listing. Bottom line – signs are usually required unless the seller objects and the seller always has the final say.

Note: The sign shown above was used with our Carmel, California listing and custom made for the property – the primary graphic is a photograph of the golf course and beach view the property enjoys from its back porch. We typically create custom For Sale signs to spotlight special features and unique views.

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