A listing agent represents the person selling their home, and a selling agent represents the person looking to buy a home. When you are buying or selling a home, or doing both at the same time, you will come across both types of these real estate agents, which sound similar but play different parties in the transaction. Both the selling agent and listing agent play a distinct role in a home sale and even work together to close the deal.
A listing agent is the real estate agent who looks after the party selling their property. Their job is to appropriately price and effectively market the home they’re aiming to sell. Ideally, the listing agent helps the seller find a buyer for their home as quickly as possible while helping them make a top-dollar profit.
When choosing a listing agent, you’ll want to find one who has a strong knowledge of your specific housing market. (Here's what to ask a realtor when selling your home.)
A listing agent is responsible for:
Listing agents are sometimes referred to as a “seller’s agent” — this is not the same as a “selling agent,” which we'll discuss later.
The homeowner who is selling their home pays the listing agent fee to the brokerage. Generally when you work with a listing agent, you'll sign an exclusive selling agreement to only work with that specific listing agent to sell your home. This arrangement ensures that the listing agent gets a commission on behalf of their brokerage when you close on the sale.
The brokerage then shares the commission with the listing agent. You can enter into what is called an “open listing” with this listing agent, where you’re allowed to list your home with multiple real estate agents, but this arrangement doesn’t occur often.
Sometimes a listing agent will accept a flat fee to put your home for sale into the listing services, but not take on the rest of the responsibilities associated with selling a home. This is also a less common arrangement.
A selling agent represents the buyer and helps them find a home.
Before you sign a contract with a selling agent, they’re referred to as the buyer’s agent. After signing the contract, they become the selling agent.
Working with a selling agent or buyer's agent (remember, these two terms refer to the same person) can help prospective homebuyers navigate the process. Selling agents can save you a lot of time by researching all the available houses in your area that match your search criteria. They’ll also help you form your offer when you do find a home you want to buy.
A selling agent is responsible for:
Homebuyers can take advantage of all the benefits that come with working with a selling agent without having to pay anything. The listing agent’s brokerage pays the selling agent's fee once the home sale has closed — the buyers don’t have to foot any of the bill.
Selling agents cooperate with the brokers selling the home to receive compensation for helping connect them with the right buyers. The listing broker pays the selling agent a commission for finding a buyer to buy the property. Once the selling agent’s client submits an offer and the seller accepts it, the selling agent is eligible for their commission — which is called a co-op commission.
A real estate agent can work as both a listing agent and a selling agent but typically they don't take on both roles for the same property. However, two real estate agents from the same brokerage may represent each side of the process, in which case the sale is referred to as “dual agency.”
It’s a common misconception on the buyer side that if you find a home you love on your own, you can call up the listing agent and ask them to be your selling agent. The thought behind this is that the potential of a double commission on their end might make them willing to cut you a “deal.” While this may tempt some agents, it is an unethical approach in real estate. You wouldn’t want to work with an agent who is willing to ditch their fiduciary responsibility and prioritize their needs and the seller’s needs over yours.
A buyer can make an offer on a home without the help of a selling agent, but the listing agent will not take on the role of selling agent on the buyer's behalf.
If you’re selling a home, you’ll work with a listing agent to help you price your home, find the right buyer, and close on the sale. Forgoing a listing agent has its disadvantages and may not save you money.
If you’re looking to buy a home soon, you’ll enlist a selling agent to help you find homes that match your requirements, take you on home tours, confirm you’re paying a fair price, and walk you through the closing process.
If you’re the seller, working with a real estate agent does cost money, as you’ll have commission fees to pay, but they do a lot of the heavy lifting when selling a home. Between finding buyers and managing all the paperwork, the costs can be well worth it.
The listing agent and selling agent will share the commission that the property seller agreed to. For example, if the commission on a home is 8%, each agent will get 4%. If the listing agent does manage to find a buyer for the home on their own, they get to keep the entire commission. No matter how the home sells, the home seller pays out the same amount.
Whether you’re buying or selling, make sure you take your time finding the right agent — Orchard can help. You'll work with an experienced local agent who can look out for your best interests.
When you list with Orchard, we’ll get your home show-ready and make repairs to increase your home’s value at no upfront cost.
Orchard guarantees your home will sell, so you can buy your next one worry-free.
We provide peace of mind that your home will sell, plus list your home on the market to maximize your earnings.
Use our home sale calculator to estimate your net proceeds.
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