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Listing Your Home

Listing Your Home Sale


If you’re hiring a real estate agent to sell your home, you’ll want to understand the arrangement thoroughly before committing yourself.


Finding An Agent

Getting recommendations from friends and family is a good way to find a competent agent.
Check out the number of complaints against any potential agent with the state real estate board and Better Business Bureau.


Fiduciary Relationship


Real estate agents have what’s called a “fiduciary relationship” with sellers, which means that your agent must act in your best interest at all times.


Types of Listing Agreements


There are many different ways for an agent to list your home:

  • Open Listing. The agent has the right to bring prospective buyers to see your home. If the buyer buys your home, the agent gets a commission. You can give an open listing to as many agents as you wish. This arrangement isn’t popular with agents, and your home won’t get the same market exposure as other homes.

  • Exclusive Agency Listing. The agent lists and markets your home, and gets a commission if your home sells through any agent or real estate company. You can also look for buyers on your own, in which case you won’t owe the agent a commission.

  • Exclusive Right To Sell Listing. With this most commonly-used listing, the agent gets a commission no matter who the buyer is, even if you find the buyer yourself.

  • One-Time Show Listing. The agent can show the home to one potential buyer, listed by name, and is guaranteed a commission if the house sells to that buyer.


Listing Agreement Details

Other than your name and the property address, the following are items usually found in listing agreements:

  • Price and terms of sale.

  • Type of listing

  • Length of listing time.

  • What personal property goes with the house

  • What fixtures and appliances aren’t included

  • Amount of commission and when it will be paid (you should always make it payable when the transaction closes)

  • Whether your home will be listed with the local Multiple Listing Service (“MLS“).

  • Specific responsibilities of the agent (showing, open houses, advertising and other marketing)

  • Whether a lockbox will be used to show the house

  • What hours and days the house is available for showing

  • Under what circumstances you can take the house off the market

  • Under what circumstances you can terminate the listing agreement

  • How you will resolve any disputes (arbitration, mediation, small claims court)


Read every word of the listing agreement carefully, and make sure you understand everything before you sign it. Don’t be afraid to ask about anything you don’t understand.

Make sure your entire agreement is in writing and includes everything the agent has represented to you.


Getting Out of a Listing Agreement

When you want to get out of a listing agreement, for whatever reason, you should consider:

  • Looking at the agreement itself to see if there is language which covers your situation

  • Looking at the language of the agreement to see if there are duties the agent hasn’t performed

  • The time remaining on the agreement before it expires. It may be best to simply let it run out on its own, holding the listing agent to the specific conditions of sale listed in the listing agreement.


If you feel your agent has done something unethical, report it to your local or state real estate board.

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