Listing Agent

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When hiring a real estate agent, you might have heard the terms listing agent, seller’s agent, buyer’s agent, or selling agent. Below we will explain the differences between these terms and what type of agent you would need in the case that you are selling or buying a house.

What You Should Know

  • A listing agent represents the seller and their interests. They list a home, set its price, assist in staging and marketing the home, negotiate on behalf of the seller, and help in the closing process
  • A selling agent represents the interests of the buyer. They help the buyer search for and purchase a home
  • The agent representing the buyer is called “the buyer’s agent” prior to the contract being signed and “selling agent” once the contract is signed
  • Some listing agents will only negotiate and accept offers made by the buyer’s representative rather than the buyer themselves

What is a Listing Agent?

A listing agent is the real estate agent who represents the seller and their interests. A listing agent helps the seller set a fair price for the property that they are trying to sell. Since they have a broad knowledge of the real estate market, they know what similar properties in the same area are selling for, which allows them to suggest a fair price for your home. Besides setting the price and listing the property for sale, a listing agent may also have some marketing expertise. They can help you in making your home attractive to prospective buyers by staging it properly and taking photographs, sometimes by hiring professionals. A listing agent hosts open houses, talks to, and evaluates potential buyers. When an offer comes in, the agent negotiates on the seller’s behalf to get them the most favorable terms. Lastly, a listing agent helps the seller during the closing process.

Listing Agent vs Selling Agent

It can be confusing using any other terms besides seller’s agent and buyer’s agent, which are the most straightforward. However, if you are in the process of selling or buying a house, it can come in handy to know the similarities and differences between the terms.

First, the terms “listing agent” and “seller’s agent” are used interchangeably. They are both used to refer to the agent that represents the seller. Selling agent, on the other hand, is the real estate agent that represents the buyer. This agent helps the buyer find a home, make an offer on it and hopefully purchase it. The difference between the terms “buyer’s agent” and “selling agent” is the timeframe in which they are used. Before the sale contract is signed, the agent that represents the buyer is referred to as the buyer’s agent. Once the contract is signed, the buyer’s agent now gets the name “selling agent”, since they assisted in a home being sold.

How is a Listing Agent Compensated?

Typically, a listing agent is compensated through a commission paid by the seller of the home when the house is sold. The standard commission in the U.S. is 6%, however, the exact percentage depends on the conditions of the real estate market. The 6% standard commission is split between the brokerages that the listing agent and the selling agent work under. After the brokerages have collected the commissions, they split them with their agents according to their contract.

Sometimes, a listing agent may charge a flat amount for their services. This may sometimes backfire and have the agent not work as hard to try and sell the house for the highest price possible. Since their pay does not depend on the price of the house anymore, they may not put as much effort into it.

5 Tips to Find the Best Listing Agent

The real estate agent plays a crucial role in your home selling process. Therefore, it is useful to take your time and search for the right agent for you. Here are some tips on how you can find the best listing agent:

  1. Local Experience

    You will want to work with a listing agent that is knowledgeable about the real estate market. Sometimes, the best indicator of this knowledge and expertise is the experience that the listing agent comes with. You will not only want someone who has a considerable number of years of experience, but specifically someone that has sold homes in similar price ranges and similar areas as yours. Therefore, before deciding to work with a listing agent, make sure you ask them the following questions:

    • How long have you worked as a listing agent?
    • What is the price range of most of the homes that you sell?
    • How long are the homes you sell typically in the market for?
    • How many properties do you list and sell on average per month?
    • Have you sold any homes in the area? How many of them?
  2. Understanding the Services the Agent Provides

    When searching for a listing agent, it is important to look at the services that the agents provide. Typically, a listing agent can provide a variety of services that can help you sell your house. Depending on these services, the commission that they ask for may be higher or lower. Some of the services include:

    Setting the Price - A listing agent who is knowledgeable on the real estate market and the area, can help you put a fair price on your home. They can compare what similar homes in the same neighborhood are selling for and evaluate how much your home is worth.

    Staging and Styling - In order to make your home look its best, a listing agent may have connections of people that will help stage and style your home. This is an important step in luring potential buyers into your home.

    Marketing - A real estate agent can host open houses, print leaflets, and advertise your home through in their network. To market the home online after staging and styling, a listing agent may also hire a professional photographer to take high-quality pictures of your house.

    Negotiating - After receiving offers from buyers, a listing agent can negotiate on your behalf to get you the highest price and the best terms.

    Make sure that you know beforehand which of these services the listing agent you are considering can provide you with. Be clear on what they will handle during the sale process and what you are expected to do on your own. The services provided are an important part of comparing listing agents.

  3. Right Chemistry

    Selling your home can be a lengthy process, where your main contact will be your listing agent. Since most of the procedures will be handled by the agent, it is important to work with someone who you can trust. Therefore, make sure to interview your top choices and try to find out if they are transparent and honest. Their experience and credentials can only tell you so much about the actual person that you will have to deal with.

    Moreover, the process can be confusing and frustrating, which is why you will need an agent who is supportive, understanding, and patient. If a listing agent doesn’t take the time to explain to you the logistics of the process and keep you in the loop at all times, then you may not be comfortable with the decisions he or she makes on your behalf.

  4. Evaluating the Negotiation Skills

    After you receive an offer from a potential buyer, your listing agent will need to negotiate and try to convince the buyer’s agent for better terms or a higher price. The agent’s negotiation skills play a crucial role in getting the best deal on the house and paying for as little costs as possible. For example, if there are any repairs that the buyer demands to be paid for by the seller to purchase the home, the listing agent can negotiate and get the buyer to split the costs.

  5. Ask for Referrals

    While a listing agent may have many great things to say about their experience, nothing speaks louder than the testimonials of past clients that have worked with the agent. Make sure you ask the agent about any referrals that they may have gotten from their clients. Look through them and see if the agent is someone you would like to work with.

    You can also search for a listing agent by asking other homeowners directly if they have worked with someone that they would recommend.

Do I Need a Listing Agent?

If you are looking to save money and yield the greatest profit from your home sale, you can definitely put up the home for sale on your own. The properties sold this way are called FSBO, or For-Sale-By-Owner. However, this will take a considerable amount of effort and time. Also, you may miss out on connections that a listing agent may have that could get your home sold faster and on better terms. Moreover, you will have to market the home, negotiate offers and close on the deal on your own, which can be challenging if you have no prior real estate experience.

Some listing agents refuse to negotiate with buyers directly, and will only work with the buyer’s representative, the buyer’s agent. They do this because since the buyer is not represented and has no support, they may feel obligated to advise them which comes in conflict with the interests of the seller. Other agents work as dual agents. A dual agent works with both the buyer and seller and is neutral to both. While this is frowned upon in the majority of the states because of the potential for a conflict of interest, in some it is even illegal to work as a dual agent.

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