What’s The Difference Between a Listing Agent and a Selling Agent

What's The Difference Between a Listing Agent and a Selling Agent

Selling your home is a significant decision, and understanding the real estate process is crucial for a seamless transaction. One of the initial and most puzzling aspects of this journey is deciphering the roles of the listing agent and the selling agent. These terms often seem interchangeable, yet each holds a unique role in the real estate transaction.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll untangle this real estate riddle, providing clear insights and explaining the crucial differences between a listing agent and a selling agent. Our goal is to empower you, the home seller, with the knowledge to help you sell your house promptly and secure the best possible cash offer. Let’s demystify the real estate world together!

What Is a Listing Agent

A listing agent, also known as a seller’s agent, is a real estate professional who represents the seller in a property transaction. They are tasked with a myriad of responsibilities, including pricing your home accurately, marketing it effectively, and negotiating with potential buyers to secure the best possible deal.

When it comes to commission, the standard rate is typically around 5-6% of the home’s selling price, although this can vary based on local customs and the complexity of the transaction. This commission is usually split equally between the listing agent and the selling agent. Therefore, if your home sells for $300,000 with a 6% commission, the total commission would be $18,000, and the listing agent would receive $9,000.

However, remember that the listing agent works for a brokerage, and there’s usually a split there as well. The agent might keep anywhere from 60% to 90% of the commission, depending on the agreement with their brokerage.

It’s always a good idea to discuss commission rates upfront with your potential listing agent to avoid any confusion or surprises later.

What Is a Selling Agent

A selling agent, also referred to as a buyer’s agent, is a real estate professional who represents the buyer in a property transaction. Their primary roles include finding suitable homes that match the buyer’s needs and budget, arranging property viewings, and assisting in negotiations to obtain the best possible price for the buyer.

Like listing agents, selling agents also earn their income through commissions, which are typically shared with the listing agent. This agent fee is usually about 5-6% of the home’s selling price, paid by the seller at the closing of the sale. If we take the example of a house sold for $300,000 with a 6% commission, the total commission would be $18,000. This amount is split equally between the listing agent and the selling agent, each receiving $9,000.

However, the selling agent, too, is associated with a brokerage, and a portion of their commission goes to the brokerage based on their agreement, which could be anywhere between 10% to 40%. The seller needs to understand this commission structure to avoid misconceptions about who pays the selling agent.

Differences Between a Listing and Selling Agent

The primary difference between a listing agent and a selling agent is the client they represent. A listing agent works for the seller, while a selling agent represents the buyer. However, this distinction goes beyond just their clients; it also affects their roles, responsibilities, and pay structure.

1. Representation

As mentioned, a listing agent works for the seller. They have a legal and fiduciary responsibility to act in their client’s best interest, which includes obtaining the highest possible sale price, negotiating favorable terms, and protecting their client’s privacy.

On the other hand, a selling agent is hired by the buyer to find them suitable properties and negotiate on their behalf. Their main objective is to get the best possible deal for their client, which might mean a lower price for the seller.

2. Responsibilities

Since they represent different parties, listing agents and selling agents have distinct tasks in a real estate transaction. The listing agent is responsible for setting the right price for your home, marketing it effectively through various channels, arranging showings and open houses to attract potential buyers, and negotiating offers.

Selling agents, on the other hand, help their clients find properties that match their needs and budget, schedule property viewings, conduct market research to ensure fair pricing, and assist with negotiations. They also guide their clients through the closing process to ensure a smooth transaction.

3. Income Structure

While both listing agents and selling agents earn their income through commissions, the structure varies slightly. As mentioned earlier, listing agents typically receive a percentage of the sale price, which is split with the selling agent.

While this commission can add up to a significant amount, it’s crucial to keep in mind that both agents are associated with brokerages and will have to share their commissions with them too.

Differences Between a Listing and Selling Agent

Can You Sell A House With One or the Other?

Yes, it’s certainly possible to sell a house with either a listing agent or a selling agent alone. In some real estate transactions, the same agent might even serve both roles, a situation known as dual agency. However, the decision to use one or the other, or both, depends largely on the specifics of your situation.

If you are very familiar with the real estate market, have ample time and energy, and feel comfortable marketing your home, negotiating with buyers, and navigating legal documents, you might choose to sell your house on your own, engaging a selling agent only to represent buyers. This is referred to as For Sale By Owner (FSBO). In this case, you would only pay the commission for the selling agent (2.5-3%).

On the other hand, if you’re a buyer who’s well-versed in the home-buying process, you might opt to deal directly with a listing agent. In this case, the listing agent might lower their commission since they’re not splitting it with a selling agent.

However, keep in mind that both these scenarios require a significant amount of time, effort, and real estate knowledge. For many people, hiring both a listing agent and a selling agent will ensure they are adequately represented in the transaction, and all details are handled by professionals. This is typically the most recommended route to take, especially for first-time home sellers or buyers or those unfamiliar with the intricacies of real estate transactions.

Benefits of Having Both a Selling and Listing Agent

Having both a selling and a listing agent in a real estate transaction comes with numerous benefits.

1. Expert Guidance

Both listing and selling agents are experts in their respective areas. A listing agent knows how to make your home appealing to a wide range of buyers, and they understand the best strategies to market the property effectively. A selling agent, on the other hand, knows what buyers are looking for in a home and can provide useful insights to help you make necessary adjustments in your home to make it more appealing.

2. Better Representation

When you have both a listing and a selling agent, you can be assured that your best interests are being represented at all times. The listing agent is focused on getting you the highest possible price for your home, while the selling agent is focused on finding a buyer who is willing to pay that price.

3. Time and Effort Saved

Selling a home can be a time-consuming process. Having both a listing and a selling agent means that you don’t have to do all the work yourself. They take care of listing the property, marketing it, arranging viewings, negotiating with potential buyers, and handling the paperwork. This frees you up to focus on other important aspects of your life.

4. Faster Transactions

With both a listing agent and a selling agent involved, transactions often move more quickly. They can communicate directly with each other, streamlining negotiations and resolving issues quickly. This can lead to a faster sale, which is particularly beneficial if you’re in a hurry to sell.

5. Access to a Larger Network

Both listing and selling agents have extensive networks of professionals in the real estate industry. This includes other agents, inspectors, appraisers, and potential buyers. Having access to this network can help expose your property to a larger audience and potentially result in a faster, more profitable sale.

In summary, while it’s possible to sell a home with just a listing agent or a selling agent, having both can provide you with significant benefits, ensuring you get the best possible outcome from your home sale.

The Drawbacks of Having Both a Selling and Listing Agent

While the benefits of having both a listing and selling agent are considerable, certain drawbacks need to be taken into account.

1. Commission Costs

One of the most apparent drawbacks is the cost. Both listing and selling agents receive a commission from the sale of your home. Typically, the total commission is between 5-6% of the sale price, split between the two agents. This means that if your home sells for $200,000, you could be paying up to $12,000 in commission fees alone.

2. Potential for Conflicts of Interest

Another potential downside is the potential for conflicts of interest, particularly in situations where the same agent is acting as both the selling and listing agent (also known as dual agency). In these cases, the agent may have a vested interest in closing the deal quickly, rather than ensuring that you get the best possible price for your home.

3. Lengthy Listing Agreements

Listing agents typically require you to sign a listing agreement which is a contract that commits you to working exclusively with them for a set period, usually between 3-6 months. If your property does not sell within this period, you’re either stuck with them for the remainder of the contract or have to negotiate an early termination. This could potentially delay your plans if you’re not satisfied with the agent’s performance.

As always, it’s essential to do your research and make the decision that best suits your individual needs and circumstances.

Can You Sell a House Without a Listing and Selling Agent?

Yes, it is certainly possible to sell a house without engaging a listing or selling agent; this method is known as “For Sale By Owner” (FSBO). Homeowners who choose this route typically have a strong understanding of the real estate market and the legal procedures involved in selling a home. They must be prepared to handle all aspects of the sale process, from setting a fair market price, marketing the property, negotiating with potential buyers, to closing the deal with legal documentation.

While this method can save the seller from paying agent commissions, it requires a significant commitment of time and effort.  Another way to sell your house in Texas is through a cash buyer. Cash buyers are individuals or companies like Four 19 Properties that specialize in purchasing homes “as is” for cash, without the need for traditional financing or involving real estate agents. This can be a viable option if you’re looking to sell your house in Houston quickly and would like to avoid the hassles of a traditional home sale. They also don’t charge agent commissions- both the listing agent and the selling agent.

If you’re considering other creative ways to sell your house, you could also look into online real estate marketplaces and auction sites. These platforms allow homeowners to list their properties for sale without the need for a real estate agent. However, keep in mind that these methods require a significant amount of marketing and networking skills to attract potential buyers.


In conclusion, the decision to use a listing agent, selling agent, or both depends on your specific situation and needs. While having both agents involved can provide numerous benefits, it’s also possible to sell your house in Arlington without them through methods like FSBO or selling to a cash buyer. Whichever method you choose, it’s essential to do your research and consider all options carefully before making a decision. Selling a house is a significant financial transaction, and having expert guidance and representation can greatly impact the outcome of the sale.  So, give careful thought when deciding whether to engage an agent or opt for other methods of selling your home.

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