California Real Estate Agents Keeping it Legal

As Real Estate Professionals, sometimes it could be a challenge to stay current with so many ever changing rules, ordinances and laws.

Local Sign Ordinances

It is important to be a good steward when it comes to real estate sign placement, use discretion and common sense when putting signs up.  Following current ordinances helps avoid restrictions on where and when signs can be placed.  Many of our local ordinances have small variations between one another and it can be difficult to keep track, so we have put together a refresher course at the bottom of the newsletter.  Two good rules to always follow: keep signs out of the public right of way, this includes sidewalks, and never attach balloons to signs.

Mortgage Interest Deduction at Risk?
The National Association of REALTORS® issued an important call-for-action.  The U.S. Senate is considering tax reform options and adopted a “Blank Slate” approach that initially eliminates every provision in the tax code, including the mortgage interest deduction and all those that encourage real estate ownership and investment.  Senators must submit their tax reform priorities by July 26th.  REALTORS® need to make their voices heard now so real estate provisions are on the top of Senators’ lists.  If you have not responded to this call-for-action to voice your support for the mortgage interest deduction, doing so is quick and simple: you can take action here

Potential Reform for Fannie and Freddie
House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) introduced legislation to phase out federal involvement in the secondary mortgage market by eliminating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over several years, and adding limits to who can get federally backed financing through FHA, how much would be guaranteed, and at what cost.  NAR is strongly opposed to this legislation in its current version.  NAR believes in retaining federal involvement in the conventional mortgage market.  SAR members met with local elected Congressional representatives in May to discuss the importance and need for a “do no harm” approach in potential reform for Fannie and Freddie.

NFIP Implementation
The National Association of REALTORS® is currently working a multifaceted approach to keep REALTORS® apprised of, and address serious concerns about the implementation of the National Flood Insurance Program reform legislation.  This legislation will phase out certain flood insurance subsidies.  SAR has received unofficial preliminary information that the Sacramento Region will not be affected by these price increases.  If you see or hear anything contrary, please contact Caylyn Brown at

Local Sign Ordinances Continued
California Civil Code Section 713 sets the legal ground work for real estate signs.  This section states that an owner of a property, or their agent, is allowed to advertise the sale or lease of that property on site in plain view of the public.  This advertisement may include directions to the property, the owner or agent’s name, address, and telephone number.  Local governments are permitted to regulate the display or placement of these signs on public and private right of way.

The City of Citrus Heights requires that real estate signs be no more than five square feet, and set back from the public right of way ten feet.  Freestanding directional signs should be limited to one per driveway, and one per service entrance.  Directional signs are to be less than four square feet and thirty inches tall.  These signs need to be set back at least five feet from the public right of way.

The City of Elk Grove requires on site real estate signs to be set back five feet from the public right of way, and out of any required vision triangle.  Residential property signs cannot be more than six square feet, and are limited to three riders per sign.  Directional open house signs are allowed on weekends and holidays.  One sign may be placed for each change in direction, to a maximum of five signs.  The open house signs may not be more than six square feet.  For commercial property, one on site sign per street frontage is allowed.  Commercial parcels less than one acre may have a thirty-two square foot sign, parcels larger than one acre may have a forty-eight square foot sign no more than eight feet tall.  All signs must be removed no later than close of escrow.

In the City of Folsom, signs must be set back five feet from the public right of way, and remain out of the vision triangle.  For residential property these signs need to be less than six square feet, and no more than three riders per sign.  Open house signs are allowed on weekends and holidays, one sign for every change in direction, with a maximum of five signs.  Open house signs may not be larger than six square feet.  Commercial property is permitted to use one sign per street frontage.  For property less than one acre these signs must be no more than thirty-two square feet.  Parcels larger than one acre may use a forty-eight square foot sign, with an eight foot height limit.

The City of Rancho Cordova allows for not more than one for sale sign per property frontage.  Residential signs are limited to ten square feet and must be set back at least three feet, and shall not obstruct corner visibility requirements.  Nonresidential signs are limited to a maximum of 32 square feet and shall be set back at least three feet from the right-of-way.  Open house directional signs are permitted on weekends and holidays when open house sales activities are ongoing.  One sign may be placed for each change in direction to a maximum of five signs.  Directional signs are not to exceed an overall size of nine square feet, including supports, and not exceed a height of thirty inches.  Directional signs are not to be placed in the public right-of-way.

In the City of Sacramento, one sign per parcel is allowed, one sign may be located on the ground level, and one above balcony level, no sign shall be attached to the first floor balcony.  The area of the sign will not exceed six square feet, and the design of each sign shall be black ink on white board.  The sign is to be removed within seven days after the sale, rental, or lease solicited is accomplished.  If the sign is not removed within this time frame, it shall be removed immediately, at no cost to the City.  No signs are to be in the public right-of-way.  Signs may be placed in the area between the face of the street curb and the street side edge of the sidewalk (commonly referred to as the planting strip or mowing strip).

The City of West Sacramento allows one sign per property, but it must remain entirely on the property it applies to, be smaller than six square feet, and cannot be directly illuminated.  This sign must be removed within seven days of sale, rental, or lease of the property.  Off-site directional signs are allowed for real property events that are sponsored by a real estate agent or property owner.  The signs may only be displayed on event days, and will be displayed no earlier than eight am on the day of the event and removed no later than four pm the day of the event.  These signs are only allowed for existing properties that are available for sale, lease, or exchange.