What Is a Listing Agent?

A listing agent advises on pricing, handles marketing the property and negotiates with buyers on the seller's behalf.
Barbara Marquand
By Barbara Marquand 

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A listing agent represents the seller in a real estate transaction. The agent gives advice on pricing the home, handles marketing and showing the property, presents offers from buyers, negotiates on behalf of the seller, and coordinates paperwork and the final steps to closing.

A listing agent is the seller’s agent

A listing agent is sometimes called a seller's agent. But the similar-sounding term "selling agent" is a source of confusion. Sometimes it's used interchangeably with listing agent. Yet many real estate professionals define "selling agent" as a buyer's agent once a contract is signed.

To make things easy, we'll stick with the terms buyer's agent and listing agent.

Buyer's agent vs. listing agent

The buyer's agent represents the home purchaser. A good buyer's agent helps shoppers find suitable properties and negotiates on their behalf to get the lowest price and best terms.

The listing agent represents the seller's interests by marketing the home and negotiating to get the highest possible price.

Whether buying or selling a home, the most important thing is to make sure you understand which side your agent is on and what you can expect from their services.

What does a listing agent do?

Here are some of the things a listing agent will do to help you sell a home.

Conduct a comparative market analysis

The analysis will estimate the home's value by comparing it with similar properties in the neighborhood that have recently sold. A good listing agent will educate you about local demand for homes, what you can expect from buyers and how long it might take to get offers.

Recommend an asking price for the home

The agent may also recommend steps to get the home ready for sale so the property commands the best price. With your permission, some agents will bring in professionals and coordinate the prep work, such as cleaning, repairs and staging. You'll pay for those services, but it can be helpful to have the agent coordinate them.

List the home

The agent will arrange for professional photos and video, list the home on the Multiple Listing Service, add the listing to other real estate websites, and order and install the for-sale sign.

Market the home

The agent will promote the listing through ads, email, flyers and social media, as well as schedule open houses and coordinate showings.

Present offers from buyers and handle negotiations

The listing agent will walk through the terms; help you decide whether to accept, reject or make a counteroffer; and negotiate on your behalf with buyers through their agents.

Keep the process on track

The agent will keep you updated on the process and help everything stay on track until the sale closes.

Listing agent commission

The seller traditionally pays the real estate agent commission when the sale closes. The commission, which is typically 5% to 6% of the home sale price, is usually split between the listing agent and the buyer's agent and their respective brokerages.

Discount brokers and some agent referral services offer lower commissions to sellers. Their fees vary. Some discount brokers may not provide certain services, while others say they offer the full range. Ask for details about fees and services before hiring an agent from a discount brokerage to make sure the option is a good fit.

Why hire a listing agent

Selling a home requires time, energy and knowledge about contracts, disclosures and other details. Among recent home sellers, 90% said they got help from an agent, according to a National Association of Realtors 2021 survey.

A good listing agent not only handles the practical stuff but also brings perspective and wisdom to the pricing and negotiating process. Ideally, that lets you focus on the big picture.

To choose a listing agent, get referrals, interview a few candidates and check references.

If you decide to sell on your own, learn about the process to make sure you know what you're getting into and seek help from services aimed at do-it-yourself sellers.

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