What is a listing agent?
Updated June 18, 2021
A listing agent represents a home seller in a real estate transaction. Their role is to help a seller determine the correct asking price for their property, list and market the home, bring in buyers to see it, handle negotiations and see their clients through to closing.
A buyer’s agent, on the other hand, represents the interests of home buyers.
Responsibilities of a listing agent
An experienced listing agent with knowledge of the local market should be able to guide sellers through every aspect of the selling process. They will thoroughly familiarize themselves with the seller’s home, taking into consideration its location, square footage and other features, as well as research sales of comparable properties in the seller’s area, in order to determine a competitive listing price. Setting the right asking price can be the difference between finding buyers quickly and having a home languish on the market for months, so it’s crucial to work with an agent who is informed about the market.
An experienced listing agent with knowledge of the local market should be able to guide sellers through every aspect of the selling process. Photo: Pixabay
A listing agent will then develop a marketing plan, which may involve suggesting some minor upgrades to the home, having it professionally staged and photographed, listing the sale on a multiple listing service, hosting open houses and setting up showings with buyers. Some listing agents have their own staging items in storage, or can connect sellers with staging companies.
A listing agent is also instrumental in helping sellers to negotiate once they get an offer from a buyer. They’ll handle the communication with the buyer’s agent, and may be able to get the buyer to come up in their offer, waive contingencies and make the process smoother and easier for the seller in other ways. They’ll be with sellers through the closing of the sale.
Note that listing agents earn a commission on sales, typically 2.5% to 3% of the sales price. Outside the U.S., this rate varies: In France, for instance, sellers will pay listing agents between 4 and 8% and in the United Kingdom between 0.5 and 3.5%. Generally speaking, the seller pays about 6% of the sales price to agents—half of which goes to the buyer’s agent and half to the seller’s agent. Commissions can be negotiated in some cases, but busier agents with many clients may refuse to negotiate on their fees.
How to find the right listing agent
Sellers should carefully vet potential listing agents before committing to work with one. Look for agents with experience selling homes like yours, your area, and who work with reputable agencies.
Interview the candidates you’re considering, and ask questions about communication style, marketing plans, and recent sales. Ask for references and speak to some of the agent’s other clients about their experiences. Keep in mind that this is someone you may be working with for several months, so it’s important that you have a good rapport and find them trustworthy and reliable.
A good place to start your search is your own network: ask friends and family where they found their agents. Search real estate listing sites and identify agents representing properties similar to yours, and then do some research on the agency they work with, their reviews from other clients and their credentials. (You can confirm that they’re licensed with the National Association of Realtors and your state’s division of licensing services.) Consider interviewing a few different agents before committing to one.