What is an Exclusive Listing?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2019
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An exclusive listing is a type of real estate listing in which a particular real estate agent or broker is given the exclusive right to handle the sale. When people want to list homes for sale, they are usually encouraged to opt for an exclusive listing, because this type of listing provides an incentive for a real estate agent to heavily promote a property in exchange for the commission. Typically, such listings expire after a set period of time, usually three months.

In an exclusive right to sell listing, the real estate agent or broker receives a commission for the sale no matter how it happens. Ideally, he or she will be directly involved in the sale, but if the seller finds a buyer independently of the agency, or a buyer's agent approaches the seller, the seller's agent will still get a commission. Most agents prefer this, because it allows them greater control, and it provides a major incentive for getting the property sold, as they stand to gain a commission.

Exclusive agency listings, on the other hand, allow the seller to work with a buyer independently without paying a commission to the seller's agent. This type of exclusive listing tends to be less common, as the real estate agent has less control. In addition, the agent has less of an incentive to promote the property and get it sold, as he or she may not always be able to access a commission.


Once an exclusive listing expires, the seller may opt to continue with the same agent, or choose to take his or her business elsewhere. Sellers should think about this when selecting an agent to list with, as many agents specialize in specific types of property, and one property will not fit all agents. A commercial property, for example, shouldn't be listed with an agent who tends to focus on single family homes, while a unique property such as a luxury estate would best be served by a real estate agent who has a proved track record with such properties.

When signing a contract to list real estate for sale, sellers should make sure that they read the terms very carefully. The terms should specifically spell out whether or not the listing is exclusive, and the details of the exclusive listing. In addition, a clear expiration date should be provided for the listing, along with information about the selling agent's commission. Sellers may want to consider hiring a real estate lawyer to review a contract to confirm that it is in their best interests.


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