For sale sign with sold sticker in front of a new modern house. Front door is visible. Copy space

Sign of the Times……

By Michelle Sparrow Professional Standards Advisor, FVREB

The FVREB has been receiving an increasing number of phone calls (from the public and from REALTORS®) with concerns regarding “For Sale” and “Sold” signs which have been placed on properties by the buyer’s agent. In these recent complaints to the Board, buyers’ agents have waited for their clients to take possession of their new home, at which point they have placed their “For Sale” or “Sold” sign on the property.

It is important that members understand the advertising rules in the Rules of Cooperation, as well as their obligation to be familiar with local municipal Bylaws. If a REALTOR® is deemed or perceived to be misleading in their advertising or disregards a municipality’s rule, it can leave the public feeling upset and questioning the professionalism of the REALTORS® who work in their community.

The Rules of Cooperation state the process an agent must follow in order to place a sign on a property as the cooperating brokerage:

8.07 “SOLD” Signs

The privilege of placing “SOLD” signs on a property within the jurisdictional area of the Board shall be at the discretion of the seller. The Cooperating Brokerage may, through the Listing Brokerage, request permission from the seller to place a sold sign on a property subject to all local government signage regulations.

8.01 Advertising – General

Members shall not advertise in any manner that is false or misleading, prohibited by law or restricted by the seller.  Members must ensure that any signage is in compliance with all local government signage regulations.

It is equally important that all agents know the applicable municipal bylaws, as they can differ from city to city. For example, some municipalities require a real estate sign to be removed on the date of sale, while in other municipalities it can range anywhere from 7 to 30 days after the unconditional sale.

The common definition of a “real estate sign” is that it provides information indicating that a property or premises on which the sign is located “is for sale, lease or rent.” Thus, a “Sold By” or “For Sale” sign placed on a property by the buyers’ agent after possession likely may not meet the definition of a “real estate sign”. REALTORS® are reminded to follow the applicable municipal sign permit process should you want to place a sign on a property which is not for sale.

These “For Sale” signs have in some cases wrongly indicated to the public that the home had been re-listed for sale. While in other cases there was a concern that even with a “Sold” sticker in place on the agent’s sign, it was mistakenly interpreted that buyer’s agent was in fact the listing agent for the home.

If you have a concern regarding another member’s advertising, we encourage you to address the matter with that member and their Managing Broker. In fact, section 2 of the Rules of Cooperation requires complaints or criticism concerning transactions or activities connected with the MLS® System to be made to the management of the office of that other member who is the subject of the complaint. In the spirit of the Rules, the same applies to complaints or criticism in connection with signage.

If the matter is not settled to the satisfaction of all concerned, then such complaint or criticism shall be made in writing to the FVREB using the FVREB’s complaint form, and the FVREB will follow its complaints policy. Complainants are also reminded that they may address their complaint through local government enforcement measures.

The FVREB supports members’ professionalism and appreciates your cooperation and efforts.