A FEDERAL JUDGE in Baltimore has suspended a ban on the posting of "for sale" signs in 16 city neighborhoods.

U.S. District Judge Herbert Murray said his preliminary injunction will remain in effect pending the outcome of a suit by Baltimore Realtors against the state's sign ban. No date has been set for that trial.

The regulation allowing the state Real Estate Commission to ban real estate agents' signs in certain neighborhoods was enacted 10 years ago to promote racial stability. The commission is permitted to impose the ban in neighborhoods where it has found racial stability threatened by the volume of real estate sales.

Murray said there is insufficient evidence that panic selling would occur if signs are permitted.

The Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors filed a lawsuit against the state and the commission, claiming the sign ban violated the First Amendment.

A BALTIMORE CITY judge has ruled that tenants whose children could easily be exposed to lead-based paint can withhold rent until the hazard is removed. The decision by Circuit Judge David Ross means that landlords will either have to remove, or cover, any lead paint within easy reach of a child.

In the past, city landlords only were required to remove such paint if it was peeling and chipping, or if children had high levels of lead in their blood.

Lead paint can impair motor skills and cause varying degrees of brain damage if it is ingested.

Ross ruled this week that a state law allowing tenants to place rent in escrow when lead paint is easily accessible to a child applies to Baltimore.

Officials said it previously was believed that city residents were bound by a local law that set different standards for hazardous lead paint.

PERSONNEL FILE . . . The U.S. League of Savings Institutions this week elected John B. Zellars of Atlanta its new chairman. Zellars, who succeeds Paul W. Prior, is head of Georgia Federal Bank, FSB. Succeeding Zellars as vice chairman is Gerald J. Levy, who heads Guaranty Savings & Loan of Milwaukee . . . Western Development Corp. has announced a series of promotions and personnel changes: Richard M. Stone has been named vice president and general counsel, and Paul C. Mathis III has joined the company as associate general counsel. Ann V. Stucker has been named vice president, and Joanne M. Molinari has been appointed assistant vice president and director of financial services. Ronald A. Block has been promoted to president of Western Management Corp. And at Western Development's Urban Division, Ronald B. Eichner has been named assistant to the president, and Mary Lou Downing has become director of public relations . . . Mount Vernon Realty has named Frank Dove sales manager in its Falls Church office and Ann Smittee to the same position in its Dale City office.

IN THE BUSINESS . . . Long & Foster Realtors has opened a commercial leasing and sales division, with offices at 1050 Connecticut Ave. NW. Paul Danziger, formerly of the Fred Ezra Co., is in charge . . . Builder magazine has cited the Strachan house in Midlothian, Va., for an award of merit in its annual Builder's Choice competition. The house was designed by the Joseph Boggs Studio of Annapolis . . . McDevitt & Street Co., general contractors based in Charlotte, N.C., has opened a Washington-area office in Rockville . . . Reston Land Corp. has released a survey showing a 35 percent increase in the number of jobs in Reston. The survey found an employment base of 19,235 this year, up from 15,200 at the same time last year . . . The Northern Virginia Chapter of the National Association on Industrial and Office Parks has been named the chapter of the year by the national association.

ON THE MOVE . . . Smithy Braedon has consolidated its Maryland commercial sales and leasing offices at 7101 Wisconsin Ave. in Bethesda.