Once you have made a decision to sell your home, and you have settled on a Realtor to assist you, you will be asked to enter into a Listing Agreement with the Realtor with whom you are working. While I have seen Listing Agreements which are “non-exclusive”, which means they set forth what you will pay if, and when a Realtor brings you a buyer who closes, most Listing Agreements I have worked with provide for “exclusive” rights for the Realtor during the term of the Listing Agreement.
What that really means is once you have entered into an “exclusive” Listing Agreement, you are obligated to pay a commission to the Realtor even if you find the buyer without any assistance from the Realtor. In most instances, the Realtor will permit you to “exclude” from commission people with whom you have spoken prior to signing the Listing Agreement. I have also seen a provision where the Realtor will assist you even when the “excluded” buyers are involved, but for a lower fee.
While there is no specific protocol with respect to what your Realtor will do once he or she has an “exclusive” right to sell your home, I would suggest that you sit with the Realtor prior to signing and develop a “game plan” as to open houses, print and internet advertising and other marketing approaches which the Realtor has indicated he or she uses to get homes sold. This will be a guide for you, so you can track whether the Realtor is living up to his or her part of the deal. That becomes important if the listing period “expires”, and you are in a position where you need to decide whether to sign a new Listing Agreement with the existing Realtor, or try someone new. Those are hard decisions, especially if you are under pressure to get your home sold, but they are made somewhat easier if you can point to failures of the Realtor to follow through with regard to promises which were made when the Listing Agreement was signed
How long should the term of your Listing Agreement be? That is another difficult decision. I have seen Listing Agreement run from ninety (90) to two hundred seventy (270) days. You really need to ask the Realtor what length he or she recommends and why. No piece of real estate is exactly like another, so there may be compelling reasons, in some situations, to agree to a longer Listing Agreement term because of a limited market or work that you need to do to get the dwelling at its best position to sell.
Once the Listing Agreement expires, the Realtor involved will inform you of all the people to whom he or she has shown your home. There is a “tail” to most Listing Agreements, and if any of the people on the list purchase within a specified period of time after expiration, the Realtor will be entitled to compensation. Remember to cover that eventuality, if you are terminating one Realtor and starting to work with another.