Real estate sign delays- installers will now call before they dig

Call before you Dig rules apply to For Sale signs too. (KOMO Photo)

It used to be you'd see a "For Sale" sign in front of your home the day after you put it on the market. Starting Friday, the sign won't go up until after all underground utilities have been located.

The change appears to mark the end of a dispute between sign installers and state regulators.

By law, the state Utilities and Transportation Commission can impose penalties for people who don't call utility locators before digging where utilities lines might be buried.

For years, real estate sign installers and many brokers have operated with the belief that they were were exempt from states law, because they don't dig post holes deep enough for the law to apply to them.

After receiving violation complaints, the UTC said it's "Dig Law Safety Committee" engaged in communications with sign installers over the interpretation of the law. Finally this week, the sign installers agreed to conform to avoid a legal battle.

Seattle King County Realtors President Sam DeBord said the change means sellers may not see that "For Sale" sign immediately after putting a home on the market.

"We don't want consumers calling their realtors the day of their listing and being angry because the sign's not there," said DeBord.

DeBord said the wait for the sign could be about four days. You and your listing agent will have to figure out where you want to sign to be, then wait for the utility locator to make sure the spot that you marked is okay.

As I've shown you before, state law requires this with any kind of digging that might rupture an underground utility line on your property, even planting or removing trees.

According to the Call Before You Dig website, utility locators typically come to your home within two to five days after they've been contacted, not counting weekends.

Bottom line: If you're selling your home and the timing of that "For Sale" sign is important to you, be sure to factor the utility location process into your plans.

"Your realtor will set up this process for you," said DeBord. "But just realize, it's gonna take a little bit more work going forward."

If you dig without calling utility locators and you damage a utility line, you can be held liable for all the damage plus a fine of up to $10,000.

The number to call a utility locator is 811 and the service is free in most parts of the state.

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