Buying or selling a home is a complicated process involving a number of lengthy steps. Along the way, you’ll interact with several different agents and other professionals. It can be confusing to keep track of which person handles which task, but knowing the right person to contact for each step will help you approach the sale with confidence.
Two of the key players when buying or selling a home are the listing agent, also known as the seller’s agent, and the selling agent. You should understand the difference between these agents’ tasks and responsibilities so that you know what to expect as you get ready to sell or buy a house.
What Is a Listing Agent?
A listing or seller’s agent is a real estate agent who helps homeowners sell their homes. The responsibilities involved with selling a house are mostly separate from the responsibilities involved with purchasing one, so the day-to-day workflow of a realtor acting as a listing agent will look different than when they’re acting as a selling agent.
The following are the major tasks that listing agents handle when helping homeowners list and sell their houses:
Writing the Listing Agreement
The listing agreement is the contract between the homeowner and the listing agent that authorizes the agent to sell the property. It outlines the agent’s commission and the responsibilities they will take care of throughout the process. Before your listing agent officially starts their work, they will draft up the listing agreement with your input. Then, you’ll both sign it and get ready to list your home.
Completing the CMA and Pricing the Home
Because the real estate market is in constant fluctuation, pricing your home can be a complicated endeavor. However, your listing agent has the knowledge and resources to calculate an accurate price for your home in the current market. They’ll complete a comparative market analysis, or CMA, which will help them determine a fair price for your home based on similar properties in the area.
Marketing the Home
Attracting buyers is one of your listing agent’s most important jobs. All agents have different methods for preparing a house for the market, and some may be more involved than others in staging or upgrading your home for showings. They’ll likely take high-quality photos of the interior and exterior of your home to create an appealing listing, and they’ll host open houses so that buyers can see the property in-person.
Negotiating and Closing the Sale
Your listing agent is an expert on negotiating home sales. They should know what a reasonable offer is for your neighborhood, and they should be able to negotiate effectively without losing out on an offer. Once you’re ready to accept an offer, your realtor will walk you through the closing process and will assist you in gathering the documentation needed to follow through with the sale.
What Is a Selling Agent?
A selling agent is a real estate agent who helps people find and purchase homes. They work with buyers from the early stages of the process until they’ve closed on their new house.
Here are the main responsibilities of a selling agent:
Finding Homes That Meet the Buyer’s Criteria
Almost all home buyers have a general idea of what they’re looking for in a house. You may not have a highly specific vision for your new home, but you probably have some criteria regarding the property’s location and size. Your selling agent has access to multiple listing services, which include detailed information about available homes in your area. Based on your criteria, your realtor will narrow down the search and find the houses that best fit your needs.
Touring Homes With Buyers
Your selling agent will most likely accompany you to showings. They’re real estate experts, so they’ll offer valuable information and advice while you evaluate the homes. Often times, selling agents point out red flags in properties that prospective buyers don’t notice on their own. They can also point out the favorable qualities in a house that may go overlooked by the layperson.
Making and Negotiating Offers
Like listing agents, selling agents are experts at negotiating. Your selling agent can help you get the best deal on a property by making an offer that’s appealing to the seller yet not excessive. If you end up in a bidding war with another buyer, your agent will help you navigate the process, and they’ll advise you when it’s time to move on and search for another home.
Connecting the Buyer With Other Professionals
As you prepare to close on a new home, you’ll have to get in touch with several other professionals. You’ll work with a mortgage lender to secure the home loan, a home inspector to check for problems with the property, a title company, and other entities. Your selling agent is closely familiar with all of the steps that go into buying a house, and they probably know the best people in your area to work with. They can connect you with everyone you need to communicate with, which helps to streamline the process.
In rare cases, one realtor acts as the listing agent and the selling agent for a home sale. Known as dual agency, this can make the experience faster and easier for both the buyer and seller. The agent has to remain completely neutral in the sale, though, so they can’t offer as much help with negotiation as they would if they were working solely for one party.
The selling agent and listing agent both play key roles in the sale of a home, but their responsibilities differ greatly. Both strive to make the experience as easy as possible for the homeowners and home buyers, and both try to get the best possible deals for their clients. Some realtors primarily work as one type of agent, and some offer both services. If you’re looking for a real estate agent to represent you when buying or selling a home, what’s most important is that you work with someone you trust and feel comfortable with.
Michael Carr is the Co-Founder & COO of BrandFace, LLC. He is also a real estate branding expert and international bestselling author. As America’s Top Selling Real Estate Auctioneer, he has sold billions of dollars in commercial and residential properties.