Sign Ordinances

Real Estate Sign Regulations After Reed (Log-in Required)

Signage is critical to the real estate industry. The display of “For Sale,” “For Rent,” and “Open House” signs is subject to the requirements of local government sign codes, which typically limit the size of signs, where they can be displayed, and the length of time that a temporary sign may be displayed. However, across the country the local government rules for the display of real estate signs are undergoing change.

The U.S. Supreme Court‘s 2015 decision in Reed v. Town of Gilbert is the primary cause of that change — forcing local governments to review and, in many cases, undertake a comprehensive rewrite of their sign regulations in order to avoid potential legal challenges based on constitutional principles articulated in Reed. Because the Reed decision set a strict, uniform standard for the review of content-based sign regulations, many local governments have taken a one-size-fits-all approach to writing their new sign regulations. This approach is detrimental to the signage needs of the real estate industry.

This Guidance Paper has two principal purposes: First, it is designed to assist REALTORS® in understanding after Reed the extent to which local governments can control or restrict real estate signage. Second, the paper provides REALTORS® with information, analysis, and guidance on how to comment on proposed sign regulations and make recommendations to local governments so that new or revised sign regulations are Reed-compliant while also allowing for real estate signage.