The Difference Between a Listing Agent and a Selling Agent . . . Random Thoughts from a Portland Buyers Agent

Real Estate Broker/Owner with | Portland Metro Exclusive Buyers Agent | 100% Buyer Representation ~ 100% of the Time Licensed State of Oregon

I read an article this afternoon which confused even me. 

The article was in the New York Times real estate section online.  The Buddy System or the Buyer's Broker is a good article about buyers, renters, investor being better served when having their on Buyer's Agent.

As an Exclusive Buyers Agent in Portland, I only work with Buyers in the Metro Portland real estate market.  So, in that regard, I couldn't agree more with the article's premise.

But this paragraph really confused me:

"Engaging a buyer’s agent later in the process opens up the potential for a dispute over whether the new hire is entitled to a portion of the selling agent’s commission. Also, by this point in the proceedings, a buyer may have chatted too much with the selling agent, revealing information that could influence the outcome of the deal."

When I represent a Portland Buyer in a real estate transaction . . . and I ALWAYS DO as an Exclusive Buyers Agent in Portland . . .  I AM the "SELLING AGENT"

The agent representing the Sellers is the LISTING AGENT.

Wouldn't the same paragraph READ better, and be better understood written as:

"Engaging a buyer’s agent later in the process opens up the potential for a dispute over whether the new hire is entitled to a portion of the selling agent’s listing agent's commission. Also, by this point in the proceedings, a buyer may have chatted too much with the selling agent listing agent revealing information that could influence the outcome of the deal."

I bring the Portland buyer to the property . . . I am the SELLING AGENT. 

Anyway . . . random thoughts from this Portland's Buyers Agent . . . who is NOT the listing agent.

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Buyer Focused ~ Buyer Results


Representing Buyers in the Portland Metro Real Estate Market | Clackamas Multnomah and Washington Counties | Since 1999

Carla Muss-Jacobs, REALTOR®, ABR, CEBA, ePro
Principal Broker/Owner

Direct: 503-810-7192 | |

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Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

I think the public is totally confused by these terms.. I like your clarification.

Sep 15, 2011 10:29 PM #1
Nancy Pav
Long & Foster - Ashburn, VA
Nancy Pav, Your "GottaHave" Realtor

It sounds as if the person writing the article didn't know the difference between a selling agent and a listing agent which is not uncommon.  I teach Principles of Real Estate and what I say is you can't sell it without a the buyer agent is the selling agent.

Sep 15, 2011 10:32 PM #2
Praful Thakkar
Keller Williams Realty - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

The listing agent 'lists' the home and buyer's agent sells the home - so in a true sense, buyer's agents are an integral part of any transaction. 

Great post - showing the REAL difference between the  two. (You may see your picture in Daily Drop, Carla).

Sep 15, 2011 10:33 PM #3
J. Philip Faranda
J. Philip Faranda (J. Philip R.E. LLC) Westchester County NY - Briarcliff Manor, NY

I have been interviewed by the Times, and their real estate reporters, while good folks, aren't really on the cutting edge of things. 

Sep 15, 2011 10:34 PM #4
Brian Rugg
Rugg Realty LLC Sun City Texas 512-966-3200 - Georgetown, TX
Sun City TX Real Estate - Georgetown, TX Real Est

Hello Carla:

Good distinction. Another important distinction is that some of us are marketing agents who happen to list properties. I am never a listing agent.

Sep 15, 2011 10:37 PM #5
Dawn A Fabiszak
Private Label Realty ( Denver metro area, Colorado - Aurora, CO
The Dawn of a New Real Estate Experience!

Carla ~ as you said, the selling agent works with/for the buyer.  The listing agent works for/with the seller.  How confusing can that be?  Some people newspapers unfortunately don't understand them when they write about them!  Nice clarification.

Sep 15, 2011 10:38 PM #6
Cindy Westfall
Premiere Property Group,LLC Portland Metro & Suburbs Oregon - Tualatin, OR
ABR,GRI Your Tualatin & Portland Metro Real Estate

Hi Carla, I think the confusion might be when the term Seller's agent is used to decribe the listing agent so many just  think it's the Sell-ING agent. Good post that clears this up to many.

Sep 15, 2011 10:49 PM #7
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

I've seen selling and seller's agent confused before... certainly looks like that's what they did.

Sep 15, 2011 11:24 PM #8
Karen Hawkins, MBA - Langley & Surrey, BC
Royal Pro Real Estate Network - Langley, BC

Great info, Carla - I agree with Cindy (#7) that maybe it is the "selling" versus "sellers" distinction that is causing the confusion? I'm suggesting this and re-blogging (hope that's OK!)


Sep 15, 2011 11:31 PM #9
Karen Crowson
Alain Pinel Realtors, Pleasanton, CA - Livermore, CA
Livermore Wine Country Homes

Yeah, things aren't confusing enough, are they?  I remember when I purchased a home many years ago, I found the language the agent used cumbersome. Why not just say listing agent/buyer's agent and leave it at that?!!

Sep 15, 2011 11:41 PM #10
Andi Grant
310-508-4354 | - Los Angeles, CA
Sellers & First Time Buyers Los Angeles, Long Beac
Carla you have exposed the author of this article's limited knowledge of real estate terms and representation. Once again we have misinformation being spewed out by journalists using real estate articles as fillers between what they are actually knowledgable in.
Sep 16, 2011 12:34 AM #11
Jane Peters
Home Jane Realty - Los Angeles, CA
Connecting you to the L.A. real estate market

I was confused in the early days too.  It would make more sense if it were the buying agent and the selling agent, rather than listing and selling. If you never hear the word "listing" then it is going to be confusing.

Sep 16, 2011 01:11 AM #12
Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Realtor (503)755-2905
Vernonia Realty - Vernonia, OR
"Your Gateway to the Lake" Birkenfeld Oregon

Carla, it makes you wonder the level of expertise on the part of the reporter and doncha think the agent(s) he/she was interviewing would have made that distinction??

Good catch. No wonder so many people are confused!

Sep 16, 2011 01:37 AM #13
Allison Stewart
St.Cloud Homes - Saint Cloud, FL
St. Cloud Fl Realtor, Osceola County Real Estate 407-616-9904

Good catch Carla- did you mention it to the NY times author?  It is mistakes like the one you caught which do lead to confusion in the public's perception of who does what for whom.

Sep 16, 2011 04:24 AM #14
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

Carla, Thank you for the great post. Buyers who do not understand buyer agency should read your post.

Sep 16, 2011 07:42 AM #15
Melissa Stahl
Melbourne, FL
Realtor, Exit 1st Class Realty

I also read that article and completely agreed with it even the paragraph you pulled out.  I've bolded different words to help with a different perspective.  Looking at it from a potential Procuring Cause situation and buyer protection.  A lot of times a buyer goes and looks at a property either by calling the listing agent directly or at an open house and chats too much with the seller's agent leaving them less power to negotiate should they decide to write an offer.  

"Engaging a buyer’s agent later in the process opens up the potential for a dispute over whether the new hire is entitled to a portion of the selling agent’s commission. Also, by this point in the proceedings, a buyer may have chatted too much with the selling agent, revealing information that could influence the outcome of the deal."

The agent who helps the buyer determine they wish to purchase the property is the selling agent. If the buyer then goes and hires a buyer's agent to write a contract, that is where the dispute comes into play that I believe this author was referring to.

That is why it is so important we do all we can to educate the consumers in our areas before they even realize they need our services. 

Thank you for a great post! We need to get the word out to buyers. They need us before they start shopping.

Sep 16, 2011 08:26 AM #16
Tatyana Makarov
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - South Windsor, CT
Your Greater Hartford Area Realtor

Hello Carla,

I did read that article as well... Thanks for your post. You clarified it all.

Have a great day.

Sep 16, 2011 12:16 PM #17
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Manassas, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Northern VA

That is confusing.  Clearly the person who wrote the article is not well versed in the terminology of who's who in a transaction.

Sep 16, 2011 01:07 PM #18
Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker (503) 810-7192 | Portland Metro Exclusive Buyers Agent | 100% Buyer Representation ~ 100% of the Time - Portland, OR
Buyer Focused ~ Buyer Results

Hi Joan . . . apparently, so is the reporter ;-)

Hey Nancy -- great way to say it!

Hi Praful . . . sometimes I call it the Daily Drip . . . LOL

Hey Phil -- exactly!!!!

Hi Brain . . . never heard that before, but a property that's listed certainly is "marketed."

Hey Dawn -- for the most part, whenever I read a real estate article by a reporter I find such glaring wholes.  :-(

Hi Cindy . . . thanks for rounding that out so nicely!  Well said!

Hey Tammy -- and when it's published in the New York times, HA HA HA

Hi Karen H . . . thank you for the re-blog!  And yes, Cindy is spot on.

Hey Karen C. -- I understand your point.  The article was confusing "selling agent" with "listing agent"  I don't think replaceing "buyer's agent" would have clarified it, but made it even more confusing.

Hi Andi . . . I am always amazed by the inept reporting skills when it comes anything to do with real estate.  Great comment.  Thanks.

Hey Jane -- our MLS desginates "S/Agent" at the bottom of the SOLDS.  This is for "Selling Agent" which is the one who brought in the buyer ;-)

Hi Gayle . . . the reporters "interview" people and misquote / misstate all the time.  By the time it's in print, might not be what anyone has said, only what the report heard. ;-)

Hey Allison -- the reporter doesn't have their email linked in the article :-(  Good suggestion though.

Hi Gita . . . absolutely! 

Hey Melissa -- The point of the article was to get the buyer's agent engaged (hired) prior to . . . I agree.  But the "selling agent" was confused with the "listing agent."

Hi Tatyana . . . thanks for the comment!

Hey Chris Ann -- you look stunning at 16!!  And clearly you're right!!

Sep 16, 2011 02:05 PM #19
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