There is a best-before date on everything these days. The other day I saw a package of vacuum-sealed pink salt in the store, which stated on the package that it was made after thousands of years of percolating in the Himalayan mountains, but it had a best-before date that was nearly passed, so it was on clearance. I may never figure out the logic used for such things as salt, but I think it is safe to say there is a best-before date on real estate signage in many cases that should be adhered to. Let’s consider some of those circumstances and what that should look like.
Let’s start at the beginning. When a seller signs a representation agreement with a brokerage, their REALTOR® typically puts a “For Sale” sign on the property’s lawn to notify the world that the property is available. Since you can’t just go around placing signs on people’s lawns without authorization, that authorization comes through the seller’s written consent through the agreement. If there is no signed agreement in force, then there is no right to place a sign on the property or market it in any way since the seller has not authorized the activity. This requirement for authorization stands on the seller’s consent, so when the agreement ends, either by termination, expiry, sale of the property or by the seller’s request, the sign must be removed immediately.
It is common for a REALTOR® who is marketing a property to try to keep the buying public informed of changes to the property status by a mention on the signage itself. By placing a rider, sticker, or some other placard on the sign for such situations as “Just Listed,” “Price Reduced,” “New Listing,” etc., there is a time-sensitive condition being communicated to the public. Hopefully, this will activate the buyers to do something based on this timely information. Because this information is only relevant for a reasonable period, the real estate boards and associations rule that these time-sensitive mentions on the signage cannot stay up indefinitely but must be removed within ten business days of the listing date or change being highlighted. It doesn’t serve any good to the industry if the neighbours driving by the sign see it with a “New Listing” sticker for six months, so the signage must remain accurate.
Open House Signage
Open house signage, and other directional signage, is a category that requires a special mention. Every municipality has the right to create signage bylaws regarding such signage, and some of the requirements are extremely strict. At the very least, there is typically a time restriction for how long they can be up before the open house, restrictions on size, and restrictions on where they can be placed. It is highly recommended that you check with your local municipality before placing any open house signage or other directional signage. However, if you love paying fines and buying new signage regularly, ignore the warning and expect a notice from your local peace officer.
Buyer Brokerage Signs
Based on the scenario, brokerage, and region, sometimes a buyer’s brokerage wants to place a sign on the property to indicate that they were the agency responsible for bringing a buyer to complete a successful transaction. Although unconventional, this does happen in various ways, and all those ways have caveats. As mentioned at the start of this article, only the seller can authorize the sign’s placement before closing, which must be in writing. In many municipalities, only one sign is permitted on a property at a time, so that needs to be considered. Any interference with an existing sign of the seller’s brokerage by another member is strictly prohibited. After closing, however, the buyer, as the new property owner, could provide written consent to the buyer’s brokerage to place a sign on the property. Still, the brokerage should discuss timelines with the new owner when they get written consent. As with time-sensitive signage, a “Congratulations to my awesome buyers” sign has a limited shelf life before the buyer is sick of mowing the grass around it and the neighbours are sick of looking at it.
Signage is great tangible marketing for the neighbourhood, seller, and brokerage, but remembering that professionalism is often tied to maintaining current relevant messaging will serve everyone best. In the category of fresh fish left out too long and hockey gear unwashed too long, signage with the wrong messaging or past its best-before date also starts to stink. Keep it fresh and timely, and everyone will be happy!
Provincial Practice Advisor
Bryan has many years of experience in the real estate industry including over 10 years as a former broker in the Edmonton Region.
Email: email@example.comPhone: 403-209-3619