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What is the Difference Between a Listing Agent and a Selling Agent?

June 11 2018
by Leisl Bailey

difference selling agent buying agent real estate


Whether you are in the market for a new home or are just selling the one you own, you probably feel like you are in over your head. Unless you plan to buy or sell on your own, chances are you will want a real estate agent to help you navigate the murky water of the real estate transactions that lie ahead. Which is great, since it is what they happen to do best.

There are thousands of agents out there in the vast world of real estate, so it’s hard to know who you are dealing with.  Listing agent? Seller’s agent? Wait, there is a difference…? It’s okay to not understand the distinction. We are here to explain everything you need to know about working with a listing agent versus a selling agent.

Listing vs. Selling Agent

A listing agent represents the seller in a transaction, which might lead you to think a listing agent and a selling agent are the same. However, they’re usually not. The listing agent will set the price for the home and market the home to bring in buyers; they’ll also help stage the home and hold open houses.

On the other hand, a selling agent represents the buyer. (So if you’ve heard of a buyer’s agent, these are the same! A bit confusing, we know.) The selling agent is referred to as a buyer’s agent before the contract is signed; after that point, they’re the selling agent. A selling agent will find properties their client—the buyer—may be interested in and represents them throughout the home-buying process.

Need more info? Read on…

Listing Agents

Listing agents are real estate agents that work exclusively with a seller. Let’s break it down for you:

A seller contacts the listing agent to let them know they are ready to take the leap and sell their house. The listing agent will set up a meeting with the seller, evaluate the property, and run a comparative market analysis on the home, which will provide the seller with some pretty valuable advice about when to sell. The agent will give the seller a ballpark range of their home’s value and stats about the local market. The listing agent and the seller will work together to agree on how much to list the property for. The agent will then provide the seller with a contract to solidify the authority to represent the seller.

working with selling buyers agents

The most common form of seller representation is when the listing agent signs the executive right-to-sell listing with the seller. This is an official agreement that says only the listing agent’s brokerage has the rights to the commission.


There a few instances in which a listing agent might accept a small flat fee to act as a clerk and put the home for sale in the Multiple Listing Service, but not represent the seller. In this situation, the listing agent might execute something called an open listing with a seller, and the seller could list with some real estate agents. However, this situation is not very common.

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Selling Agents

A selling agent is also known as a buyer’s agent. If you’re in the market for a new home, this is your go-to person. A selling agent provides you with top quality assistance–both professional and emotional–from the moment you decided to buy. It’s a long journey from the start to the time of closing, but your agent has your back. They will find properties that match your “wishlist” and schedule showings. They will act as a bridge that connects you to the listing agent, reaching out to get insider information about the property, neighborhood, school district–you name it! Also, when you’re ready to throw down an offer, the agent will help draw up the paperwork and help you negotiate.

There are times when the selling agent works at the brokerage as the listing agent for a competing brokerage. Generally, the listing broker “cooperates” with another brokerage for bringing the buyer who submits an offer that the seller accepts. Most refer to it as a “co-op” commission. If the same brokerage employs the selling agent as the listing agent, the sale is then referred to as dual agency, even if the listing agent and the selling agent don’t know each other.

Can an agent be both a listing and selling agent?

Yes, a listing agent can also be a selling agent. This means the listing agent is engaged in a dual representation, which is a form of dual agency (Dual agency is legal in some states, including California.). It also means the legal relationship between the two parties can be nothing more than transactional.

Let’s keep it simple: The listing agent, also known as the selling agent, represents the seller. The selling agent represents the buyer and is also known as a buyer’s agent. When you work with both of these agents, they are going to split the real estate commission that is due on the property. For example, if the standard real estate commission is six percent, each of the agents is going to rake in three percent of the profits.

Some buyers think they can call up the listing agent to show a home and the listing agent will somehow give them a “deal” with the seller. An honest and ethical real estate agent does not operate that way.

Listing vs. Selling Agent Commission

To make money on a real estate transaction, real estate agents charge commission—a percentage of the home’s final sales price. Typically, each agent receives around 3% commission for a total of 6% in commission.

While the buyer typically pays closing costs, sellers typically pay commission for both agents.

Of course, that 6% is for standard agents. The Clever Partner Agents who act as listing agents charge just $3,000 flat or 1% depending on the final sales price, which saves sellers 2% of their home’s value!

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Buying? Selling? Both? Don’t feel overwhelmed by the process—work with Clever. Clever uses top local real estate agents to lighten your load and help you save money. Call us today at   1-833-2-CLEVER or fill out our online form to get started.

Sell or Buy a Home with Clever and Save Thousands!

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