Listing Contracts 101: How to Determine Which Is Right for You

Choosing a real estate professional you’re comfortable with is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to putting your home on the market, but anyone going through the buying or selling process needs to be aware of the different types of listing contracts available—and which suits them best.

Exclusive Right to Sell
Most commonly used, this type of listing gives the listing agent complete control of the transaction, no matter who finds the buyer. In this type of situation, even if you have a friend who wants to purchase the home, the listing agent will earn the sales commission. If a second cooperating agent is involved in the deal, the commission is normally divided between the two. A normal contract runs 90 or 120 days, but if the house doesn’t sell and you’re happy with your agent, you can always re-up for additional time.

Open Listing
Often used by sellers who are trying to sell the home themselves, an open listing allows a real estate professional to be involved in the showing process. Multiple agents can be involved; however, the real estate professional that brings the buyer gets the commission. An agent who accepts an open listing isn’t going to do much other than show the home. For instance, they won’t market it or put it in the MLS, but if the home fits the criteria for one of their clients, and it’s convenient, they may be willing to bring someone around.

One-Time Show
Very similar to an open listing, a one-time show is most often used by real estate agents who are showing a FSBO (for sale by owner) to one of their clients. The seller signs the agreement, which identifies the potential buyer and guarantees the agent a commission should that buyer purchase the home, preventing the buyer and seller from negotiating later and trying to avoid paying the agent’s commission. As with an open listing, agents will not be spending money marketing the home, and it will not be placed in the MLS.

Multiple Listing
A multiple listing service will send listing information and photos to members who are working with appropriate buyers, and many listings are available elsewhere on the internet, allowing prospective buyers to research what’s for sale on their own. MLS members can submit exclusive agency and exclusive right to sell listings to the local MLS.