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Who really ‘sold’ it?

By Peg Ritenour

Sold signs are starting to pop up again all across Ohio! While that’s fantastic, it’s raising a question about who can advertise that they “sold” a property in ads and other promotional materials. In some markets buyer’s agents are even putting sold signs on properties when they weren’t the listing agent? Is this OK? The answer in most cases is yes!

Standard of Practice 12-7 of NAR’s Code of Ethics provides that a REALTOR who participated in the transaction as either the listing broker or cooperating broker may claim to have “sold” the property. Therefore, either a listing or a buyer’s agent who was involved in a transaction can claim to have sold a property in promotional and advertising materials.

As to sold signs, Standard of Practice 12-7 basically provides that after the closing of the transaction the buyer’s agent can put a sold sign on the property and doesn’t need the permission of the listing broker to do so. But what about Ohio license law? It provides that no licensee can put a sign on someone’s property without their consent. Obviously prior to closing the seller owns the property and has authorized the listing broker to place a for sale sign on the property. After the closing and title has transferred to the buyer, that buyer now has the right to control what sign is in their yard and can authorize their buyer’s broker to put a sold sign on the property.

Sometimes the terms of a purchase contract may give the seller the right to retain possession of the property  for several days after closing– maybe even as long as 30 days after closing. In that situation, can the buyer’s agent put up a sold sign even though the buyer doesn’t have the right to move in yet? According to the Division, who has the right to OK a sign on a property depends on who owns that property- not who has the right to possession. Therefore because title has transferred to the buyer, if the buyer OKs his buyer broker putting a sold sign on the property he can do so even though the seller is still in the property.

Have more questions on advertising? Check out OAR’s White Paper on Advertising here.

Tags: legal