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What Is a Listing Agent?

May 3, 2024 2:00:00 PM / by Matt McGee

As if selling a home isn’t complex enough, even the language we use to describe the real estate agents involved is confusing.

For example, did you know that a “selling agent” doesn’t help you sell your home? That’s the listing agent’s job. The selling agent is the person who helps you buy a home.

Say what?!? 

It’s true. In the real estate industry, a “listing agent” is the person who helps you sell your home by listing it for sale in the MLS and doing all the other marketing, negotiation, legal, and transaction management functions required to sell a home. Meanwhile, a “selling agent” is the person who helps you buy a home.

“In my experience, the role of a listing agent is a marketing role and the role of a buyer's agent is a sales role,” says Sheri Hardy, a veteran agent based in East Cobb, Georgia. “So if you're listing your home, you should look for the agent who will treat your home as a product and build and execute a comprehensive marketing plan to successfully introduce your home to the market.” 

In short, a “listing agent” is an agent who focuses on (or specializes in) helping homeowners sell their homes. 

But before you hire a listing agent, there’s more you should know. In this article, we’ll explain what listing agents do and their role in helping you sell your home. But first, let’s talk about a hidden aspect of selling your home and working with a listing agent.

The value of your home listing

In the real estate industry, agents are often taught that being a listing agent is the key to building a successful, sustainable business. That’s why agents are happy to interview with homeowners who are planning to sell their homes and make the case that they’re the best agent for the job.

A home “listing” is very valuable to real estate agents. Redy is built on the premise that you should be able to unlock the value not only in your home—i.e., when it sells—but also in the home listing itself. 

Redy enables you to unlock that value by connecting you with agents who are willing to pay you a cash reward upfront as a commitment to selling your home. Whenever you’re ready, get started by featuring your property on Redy.

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What a listing agent does to help sell your home

Listing agents are an integral part of the home-selling process. You can sell your home without a Realtor®, but it’s a difficult and time-consuming process that often doesn’t live up to expectations. The National Association of Realtors says only 7% of homeowners sold their home with a Realtor’s help in 2022-2023.

Let’s take a high-level look at what a listing agent does after you hire them to sell your home.

Property evaluation and pricing

Your listing agent will assess your property’s features and conditions, and evaluate similar homes in your area that have sold recently to determine a competitive price for when it hits the market. The listing agent may recommend upgrades and repairs to improve the home’s value. If you choose to sell your home as-is, it may limit the number of interested buyers and cost you money in the long run.

Market your home to buyers and their agents

Your listing agent will implement an aggressive marketing plan with the goal of selling it on your timeline and for the maximum value possible. This will likely include marketing in both online and offline channels.

Negotiating offers and contingencies

This is where a great listing often shines the brightest. Your listing agent will review and negotiate all offers on your behalf and explain the pros and cons of each offer to you. Your agent’s duty is to get you the most favorable terms possible—keep in mind that the highest-priced offer may not be the best offer. 

Help you navigate the closing process

After an offer is accepted, your home will go into the closing process. This typically involves a home inspection, an appraisal, and more negotiations if the buyer wants to change the terms of the purchase agreement. The listing agent will ensure all legal requirements are met and the paperwork is signed so that closing day goes smoothly.

Be your guide and counselor through a stressful process

Listing agents also play an often unspoken and underappreciated role as confidant and even therapist through the peaks and valleys of a complex and stressful process. 

“Selling a home is often closing a chapter in the book of their life and can be emotionally draining and sad for the seller,” says Boise-area agent Adam Pearce. “A big part of selling a home is making sure the emotions of the seller are heard and validated.” 

Should a listing agent also work with buyers?

Listing agents are crucial to a home sale’s success, so it’s smart to hire an agent with a lot of experience selling homes. But many agents caution against hiring a listing who never works with buyers. 

Why? Because an important part of selling a home is understanding how buyers think—i.e., what they’re looking for in certain neighborhoods or types of homes, or which concessions will matter most during negotiations.

“I think working with buyers and sellers helps you understand both sides of the fence,” says Sarasota agent David Liberatore. “You’re able to better negotiate the deal on both sides. It definitely makes you a better agent.” 

The risk of dual agency

While many agents feel it’s important to work with both sellers and buyers, that doesn’t include doing so during the same transaction

When one agent represents both the buyer and seller in a single transaction, it’s called “dual agency.” The agent serves as both listing agent (representing the homeowner) and selling agent (representing the buyer).

Dual agency can speed up the buying or selling process by removing one real estate agent. This allows the buyer and seller to negotiate more quickly through a single point of contact. 

But it begs an important question: Is the agent representing the homeowner’s best interests or the homebuyer’s best interests?

Pearce, the Boise-area agent, experienced this in his pre-real estate days.

“It is very challenging, if not almost impossible, to have the best interest of both parties while not sharing privileged information with the other party,” he says. “Having been in this situation as a seller where my Realtor represented both me and the buyer, I felt horribly underrepresented. As a result, I’m hyper-cautious of ever being in this situation now as an agent.”

While some agents are willing to take on the risks and challenges of dual agency, others are as cautious as Pearce. And some aren’t even allowed: Dual agency is illegal in several states

Sell your home with a listing agent you find with Redy

Now that you understand what a listing agent does and why they’re so important when selling your home, consider using Redy to find a great listing agent to sell your home.

Remember, your home listing has value. Traditional home selling methods have kept this value hidden, but Redy does things differently. Redy is the only platform where agents offer a cash reward for the privilege of selling your home. 

Start the process of selling your home today—feature your property on Redy and discover how much agents are willing to pay you for the privilege of listing your home!

Matt McGee is a writer and editor who's been immersed in the real estate industry his whole life. Matt's dad was an agent for nearly 50 years, his sister is an agent, and his wife has been a Realtor® since 2004.

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