How Long Should I Sign A Listing Agreement For? How About 3 Years.

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Compass, formerly RE/MAX WHP 0524642

This week I met with four different home owners who had just terminated their relationship with their previous broker. In each of these situations I noticed one strange component with the terms of their previous listing agreement...the length of the contract.


The length of the agreement between the broker and the seller can vary. In high-dollar homes (over 1 million) it is not uncommon to see a 1 year listing agreement, especially if they involve land or commercial transactions. 


But what about the run of the mill $300,000 home? 

Does it really matter if you're in Austin or Houston? I can't speak with clarity about another market, but I wouldn't advise anyone in Texas signing a 1-2 year listing agreement ANYWHERE in Texas for a 300k listing. I suppose there could be a special and very bizarre situation, but I can't think of one.


One of my newest clients found herself in a THREE year listing agreement for a 200k house. For the life of me I can't understand the benefit of handcuffing a client for that long. A lot of personal relationships don't make it 3 years, how in the world could a broker and seller get along THAT long talking about open houses, fliers and price reductions? Could you imagine asking for an updated market analysis from your Realtor for each quarter over a three year period? Stupid. Bad idea to get tangled up that long. 


So, what about HOT markets where the average home sells in literally DAYS? Should a home seller sign a 6 month listing agreement? The shortest listing agreement I have ever agreed to as a Realtor is 30 days. The length of the agreement needs to be relative to the current market for the current area PLUS time for variance, the unknowns and area competition. If you list your home in August but look at "comps" and time-frames from June then you have to put things into a realistic perspective about the "time of year." 


In almost all cases I see 6 months for the standard amount of time on most listing agreements. 

Posted by


Greg Nino
, Houston area Realtor®.
Helping residential buyers, sellers and tenants 7 days a week.
Available @ 832-298-8555 

RE/MAX Compass (Formerly RE/MAX WHP)




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Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

That seems excessive, and not knowing all the details I'd say what is up with the seller?  They seem a little naive, no??  I'm glad to read that you will be representing them.  They need you.

Aug 18, 2016 06:23 AM #8
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

If the property is priced to sell, 90 days should be sufficient, however, the property must be ready to sell. Sometimes the sellers must remain on premises for a few months, so based upon the circumstances 180 days may be more appropriate, so, it depends on the circumstances, doesn't it ? 

Aug 18, 2016 12:10 PM #9
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Of course it depends upon the market and the circumstances, but I agree - three years is way too long! 

I would really love to know how many markets are really "hot" and how many are sluggish right now. How many have gotten back to some kind of normal? 

When the market is in balance with about 6 months worth of inventory, what's a "normal" time frame for selling a house? 

Where I am in N. Idaho we always had an abundance of inventory, so I have no normal to look back on for that answer. 

Aug 18, 2016 01:49 PM #10
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

The length of the agreement definitely depends on the local market and the property.  Six months is a long time in our sellers' market.

Aug 18, 2016 01:59 PM #11
Theresa Akin

Most in our area are about 3-4 months. I do 4 months just so it doesn't have to be extended if we go under contract. 2-3 years (unless commercial) doesn't say a whole lot for the broker/agent. It also depends on the size of the property. Some large residentials on a large piece of land are also an exception to a longer listing agreement.

Aug 18, 2016 08:47 PM #12
Terry McCarley
REMAX Realty Team - Cape Coral FL - Cape Coral, FL

WOW - I have never heard of a 3 year listing agreement!  Here in Florida 1 year listings are common and so are 6 month listings.  

Aug 18, 2016 10:28 PM #13
Jill Winchel
Royal Shell Real Estate - Koffman & Associates - Cape Coral, FL
We make it easy. You make it home.

Your title made me laugh so I clicked on your post. Thought you were kidding about the 3 year listing. What were those sellers thinking?

It does depend on the market, price of home, etc, but 3-6 month listing should be minimum and I would say 1 year maximum.

Hope you retained some of those sellers as clients.

Aug 18, 2016 11:02 PM #14
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County

One thing is for certain about listing agreements...the length of the agreement is not an indicator of the seller motivation.

Aug 19, 2016 12:12 AM #15
Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker
Mike McCann - Broker, Mach1 Realty Farmland Broker-Auctioneer Serving Rural Nebraska - Kearney, NE
Farm Land For Sale 308-627-3700 or 800-241-3940

I am not sure their logic of listing a property for 3 years...but I will say that I have had farm properties take over two crop seasons (re...two years) to sell.

Having said most recent listing is from this month to Feb 28, 2017.  So just over 6 months.   After that it is time to start farming! We can extend or re-list or move on at that time.

Aug 19, 2016 03:07 AM #16
Diana Dahlberg
1 Month Realty - Pleasant Prairie, WI
Real Estate in Kenosha, WI since 1994 262-308-3563

Well you got me!  Your title intrigued me and so I decided to read your blog.  A 3 year contract?  That's crazy.  In our area, we usually do 6 month contracts.  Depending upon what the market is doing we may do a listing for 4-5 months but very rare to do 3 months or less.  I usually feel if we have not gotten it sold in the time we had the listing it's either time for the seller to regroup, declutter, or reduce the price and then wait a few months to clear the market and then try again after a 90 day break.  Start new and get it SOLD!  But 3 years?  That surely could not have been in the Seller's best interest.  Ouch!

Aug 19, 2016 09:07 AM #17
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

I've never heard of a three year listing agreement for a less expensive home!!  Those sellers really need to rethink that! Plus why would the agent even recommend that?

Aug 20, 2016 05:19 AM #18
Doug Rogers
Bayou Properties - Alexandria, LA
Your Alexandria Louisiana Agent

After six months with no juice it's time for THE AGENT to move on.

Aug 22, 2016 11:48 PM #19
Patrick Willard
Rio Rancho, NM

A few years ago I listed a property. It was a short sale. The seller had previously listed for 18 months with another broker WAY over market value. The seller wanted out but the broker required a $1000 cancelation fee so he stuck it out until it expired. The seller had negative equity but his prior broker had never mentioned short sale (the seller called me and asked about short sales after a co-worker told him about them) he just listed it way too high.

I guess that's a business strategy. List for a long period, do a lousy job and require a high fee to cancel.

Aug 24, 2016 03:53 AM #20
Alan May
Coldwell Banker Residential - Evanston, IL
Helping you find your way home.

Three years!?  That's ridonkulous!

Aug 24, 2016 07:43 AM #21
Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

Even a year for a regular type home seems extreme. We do 6 months here in Clarksville and I get push back on that. Good post, Greg.

Aug 25, 2016 04:15 AM #22
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Wow!  3 years in that price range is kinda silly. I'd say 6 months tops for that one.  I typically write a 6 month listing agreement, but a higher priced home would be longer, depending.  

Aug 26, 2016 03:18 AM #23
Tony Morganti
RE/MAX Crossroads in Cuyahoga Falls and Stow, Ohio - Cuyahoga Falls, OH
CRS, ABR - Cuyahoga Falls, Stow

Greg - 3 Years is pretty hard to believe.  Our standard here is between 6 months and 9 months.  When I am asked if I will take a 30 day listing I say I long as we put a 30 day price on it.

Sep 01, 2016 12:20 PM #24
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

I've seen a lot of six month contracts, but have never seen one for three years!

Sep 10, 2016 11:40 AM #25
Karen Butler
RE/MAX Coastal Properties - Fort Walton Beach, FL
Destin/Fort Walton Relocation Specialist

Okay I might have to blog about that myself.

Oct 17, 2016 01:36 AM #26
Debe Maxwell, CRS | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods

LOL  Just seeing this, Greg Nino - another great post from you!  I can't IMAGINE handcuffing someone to a 3-year term - just WOW!

Nov 25, 2016 12:54 PM #27
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Greg Nino

Houston, Texas
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