Listing Agent vs. Selling Agent: What's the Difference?

The real estate agent is an integral player in the sale or purchase of a new home and there are two types of real estate agents to be aware of, the listing agent and the selling agent. Both roles are necessary to the sale or purchase of a property because they can help the buyer or seller navigate the complexity of the process. However, each of these types of agents are very different and it’s important to understand the role each plays when a home is sold.

The Listing Agent

The listing agent, also referred to as the seller’s agent, represents the seller of the property, and they are concerned with ensuring that the sale is in the best interests of that seller. While a listing agent can just be paid a flat-fee to list a property or agree to do an open listing for the seller, the most common arrangement is when the listing agent has an exclusive right-to-sell listing.


In this case, the goal of the listing agent is to ensure the property is listed and sold as quickly as possible, while getting the highest possible price for the sale. To accomplish this, the listing agent is responsible for:


  • Pricing the property
  • Listing the property on available listing services
  • Marketing the property
  • Scheduling showings of the property
  • Holding open houses
  • Negotiating the price, conditions, and contingencies on behalf of the seller
  • Helping draw up and complete the closing paperwork


In order for the seller to get the most out of the sale of their property, the listing agent must have a thorough awareness of the real estate market in the area the sale is taking place and how to price a home and effectively promote it.


The Selling Agent

It is important not to confuse the selling agent with the seller’s agent. The selling agent may seem like an odd name for this agent because it is the agent that represents the buyer, which is why they are also known as the buyer’s agent. When buying a property, you will want the experience and knowledge of a selling agent to find the ideal property and navigate the purchase. The selling agent is responsible for:


  • Helping the buyer get financing for the purchase of a home
  • Finding properties that are a fit for the buyer
  • Showing properties to the buyer
  • Making sure the properties are being offered at a fair price
  • Helping with the offer and closing paperwork


Like the listing agent, the selling agent must have a thorough knowledge of the real estate market in the area in which the buyer is looking. They must also have an understanding of financing options and good negotiation skills.

The Listing Agent and Selling Agent Working Together

While the listing agent and selling agent each represents the interests of their client and often work for different real estate brokerages, they must work as a team to make sure a property sale goes smoothly. When a sale goes through, the commission is typically 5% to 6% of the sale price of the home. This commission is split between the listing agent and the selling agent. This is known as a co-op commission. A portion of this commission will then go each agent’s brokerage. This means that in the end, each agent may only get 1.5% of the sale price of the home in compensation.


Can an agent act as both the listing agent and the selling agent for a client? Yes, there are agent qualified to take on both roles. However, it is more common for a brokerage to have both listing agents and selling agents on their staff, so they can provide the client with a listing agent to sell one property and a selling agent to help them buy another.

Do You Need an Agent?

Anyone can sell or buy their home on their own. However, it is beneficial to know the necessary tricks of the trade to do so. If you are selling, you need to know how to price and market the home. If you are buying, you need to know how to ensure you’re getting a fair price. And either way, you need to know how to negotiate and handle all the paperwork. This is an extremely complex process, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could lose a lot of money.


Of course, you are only paying for an agent if you are selling a home. If you are buying, you get to enjoy the benefits of having a selling agent without having to pay any fees. It is also good to keep in mind that if you use a selling agent to look at homes, but don’t end up buying, they don’t get paid for the time they spent with you.

How to Choose a Listing or Selling Agent

You should take care when choosing a real estate agent. Referrals are perhaps the best way to find the right agent, whether it is the listing agent or the selling agent. If you don’t have any referrals, look at their website, ask them about their education and track record, and look up online reviews about them. In addition to this, find out what their commission is and whether you will be working with the agent directly or with their assistant. Once you have all the information, you will be able to make an informed decision.


Contact us when you are looking for the right listing or selling agent, or if you have questions about the process of buying or selling your next home.


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Published 12.30.21

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