Residential real estate is a complicated process with a lot of different steps. And at either end of the deal are two main parties—the buyer and the seller—both of whom want to make sure that the whole thing goes as smoothly as possible. That's where real estate agents come in, offering the knowledge, expertise, and experience that's necessary for transferring properties from one owner to another. So how do the roles for a listing agent vs. selling agent compare, and who's responsible for what? Here's what to know, plus how to go about choosing the right agent for your needs.
The biggest difference between a listing agent vs. selling agent is who they represent. Listing agents (also called seller's agents) work with sellers while selling agents (also called buyer's agents) work with buyers. Both agents work together to negotiate on offers and close a deal. They also share the commission fee.
If you're getting ready to buy or sell, knowing who you should call is an important first step. Fortunately, most real estate agents can work as either a listing agent or a selling agent, so if you find an amazing agent they should be able to help you out regardless of whether you're the buyer or the seller in the transaction.
Listing agents market homes on behalf of sellers. As real estate professionals, it's the listing agent's job to oversee each step in the selling process, including many of the steps that take place before a home goes to market.
A listing agent's complete job description may vary based on the specific seller's needs, but here are some of the things that they can do for their clients:
Most listing agents sign a right-to-sell contract with sellers that gives their brokerage firm exclusive rights to the listing and sets out the terms of compensation. Typically, it is the brokerage firm that is paid the commission on the sale and then the listing agent receives a set portion of that amount.
Selling agents work with buyers to help them find and purchase homes. If the term sounds confusing, it's because these agents are traditionally referred to as buyer's agents and only get deemed selling agents after the contract is signed.
Like a listing agent, a selling agent has a wide range of skills and job capabilities but the specific things that they do may vary from client to client. Possible tasks include:
Compensation for the selling agent is usually handled by the listing agent, with the latter paying out a portion (typically half) of their commission to the seller's agent in what's known as a co-op commission.
Do you need to choose between a designated listing agent vs. selling agent? Not necessarily. Some home sales are overseen by dual agents who represent both the seller and the buyer in the transaction.
While perfectly legal, working with a dual agent isn't always in the best interest of either party, both of whom naturally want to get an optimal deal. Since sellers want to sell a property for as much as possible and buyers want to purchase a property for as little as possible, dual agents may not be able to please everyone.
Most of us don't have professional experience in real estate so it's a no-brainer to work with either a listing agent or a selling agent depending on whether we're selling or buying a home. Some people do try to go at it alone though, either because they're trying to save on commission fees or because they think they have all the tools they need to find houses and represent their own interests.
There's a reason though that the majority of people do choose to work with real estate agents (recent data from the National Association of Realtors shows that 88% of buyers and 89% of sellers work with agents). Working without a listing or selling agent means you lose out on a useful resource and guide. You may also lose out on money. In 2018, sellers who worked with listing agents sold their homes for an average of $249,000, while those who oversaw the sale themselves only sold for an average of $190,000.
On the buyer's side, working alone could mean losing out on access to a wider range of properties, plus difficulties at the negotiation table. In addition, some sellers may refuse to work with potential buyers who aren't being represented by an agent, even if their offer looks decent.
Regardless of whether you're looking for a listing agent or a selling agent, it pays to find someone who you can trust to get the job done right. Here are some things you can (and definitely should) do to make sure that you end up with the perfect person by your side.
Most towns have lots of real estate agents to choose from. One of the easiest ways to find someone great: ask a trusted local friend or family member who they've worked with and whether they would recommend them. You'll still want to do a bit of research from there, but it will help narrow down your options.
Even with a referral (and especially without one), you should be checking out online reviews. These will give you a general idea of whether a particular agent has satisfied clients or not, and you may also be able to learn a lot about them from how they respond to reviews both good and bad.
Think you found the one? It's still a good idea to meet with real estate agents in person before deciding whether you're going to work with them or not. Pay close attention to their communication style and how responsive they are to questions. Ultimately, you want to work with someone who values your time and input and who has tons of expertise they can utilize on your behalf.
Just like hiring a moving company, you want to compare two to three agents before making your final choice. Various factors that you'll want to consider include how many years of experience each agent has, what their specialties are, and the stats around their most recent deals. If they don't come off as capable—or if you're just not clicking—go back to the drawing board.
Don't underestimate the importance of rapport with your agent. Selling or buying a home is a big undertaking, as well as an expensive one. It's essential that you work with a listing agent or selling agent who you feel can properly represent your interests and that you enjoy working with. It'll make the whole process more enjoyable for you—and less stressful, too.
If you're not happy with your decision it is absolutely within your rights as a seller or a buyer to break up with your real estate agent. Even if it's awkward, it's worth doing if it means you find someone who is better suited to your needs.
Did you know hard water can negatively impact your home over time? While it's safe to drink, hard water can lead to many interior problems, which is why our real estate agents recommend addressing it as soon as possible. Hard water is common across much of the US, especially in the Midwest. As a result, it's an issue most homeowners have to contend with. Below, we'll tell you all about hard water and share some simple solutions for treating it in your home