What should I know about real estate signs?

Signs of any type, once displayed publicly, are thus considered public advertising - as confirmed by NAR Clear Cooperation Policy.

Signs identifying firms, brokers and/or agents are NOT allowed to appear in photos, videos, etc that are entered into the GNMLS system.

Aside from the above, the GNMLS has no jurisdiction over real estate signs. If you have a complaint or concern, you should therefore contact the sign’s owner and if unresolved, engage the appropriate authority.

Some helpful guidance:

  • You need to have an active listing contract before a sign is posted (or any other advertising).
  • The sign must show the firm’s and/or broker’s name, as registered with the DSPS, in a clear and conspicuous manner.
  • Please remember to remove your signs promptly by the closing date. On-premise signs remaining beyond the closing date require the new owner’s permission to show as SOLD. The DSPS allows you a ‘reasonable number of days’ to remove the sign (not weeks, months or years). Here is a WRA publication with more detail in this regard:  https://www.wra.org/WREM/wrem-article.aspx?id=2147489657
  • Off-premise signs should be placed with caution. Some local ordinances do not allow them in road right of ways. WI Statute 86.19 gives authority to those charged with maintenance of streets to remove and dispose of signs in the right of way – at least 33 feet from the centerline. A sign left for an extended time is likely to be removed, not to mention be an annoyance to consumers who find no advertised property for sale upon following the sign which could lead to a deceptive advertising complaint. Once a property goes ‘off market’, all off-premise signs should be removed.
  • Due to Wisconsin Statutes and the Code of Ethics, the listing broker should be motivated to quickly remove signs after closing.

WI Statute 452.136 (1) begins: "A licensee shall not advertise in a manner which is false, deceptive, or misleading."

Article 12 of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics begins: "REALTORS® shall be honest and truthful in their real estate communications and shall present a true picture in their advertising, marketing, and other representations."