Today on Active Rain there was a question about "Sign Crossing" and what exactly it is? Here's one interpretation (mine, of course).
A real estate broker (or agent, associate, salesperson, etc., as per local naming conventions) cannot approach - with the intent to enter into a new contract - a seller/landlord or buyer/tenant who is already in an exclusive contract with another broker. To do so, or to attempt to do so, is considered sign-crossing.
If the seller/landlord or buyer/tenant initiates contact with another broker, the parties can enter into a new contract as long as it has a start date after the end date of the currently valid exclusive contract. To have overlapping dates is considered sign-crossing.
The sign-crossing concept might be covered on multiple levels, depending on the state, the broker's affiliations, and contract law.
My state, COLORADO, for instance, defines sign-crossing in the Division of Real Estate Rules Regarding Real Estate Brokers, Rule E-13 , and clarifies it in CP-3 Commission Statement Concerning Commission Rule E-13.
The National Association of REALTORs® defines this in the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, article 16.
NOTE: NAR also provides an exception case wherein if the broker with the current exclusive contract is contacted by a REALTOR® and refuses to provide the expiration date and nature of the listing, the REALTOR® may initiate contact with the seller/landlord or buyer/tenant party.
QUESTION: If the state has rules which do not expressly state this same exception, which takes precedence? Likely the more restrictive ruling, would be my guess.
The courts, of course, may interpret contract language and rule according to their own set of rules and precedences.
Since I'm a visual person, I've drawn up graphics for my interpretation, click to enlarge. :0)
Regarding Exclusive Right to Sell/Lease Contracts
Regarding Exclusive Right to Buy/Lease Contracts
This post has been morphed into SpinOneGroup.com's knowledge/terms-and-concepts entry on Sign-Crossing.