An "Exclusive Agency Listing" is just one type of real estate listing. When you sign an exclusive agency agreement, which is the most common real estate listing agreement, you are committing to let one agent at one Brokerage be the only person who can list, market, and sell your home.
Exclusive agreements are open to negotiation and can be for any length of time, any commission amount, and any list price.
This type of listing is seldom used. In this type of listing a seller can list their house with any number of agents and whomever brings the buyer, gets the commission. If the seller sells it his or her self, then no agent gets a commission. These listing agreements, while rare, are generally used when an agent has a buyer that is interested in looking at a "FSBO" (aka For Sale By Owner) property. This type of agreement allows the agent to get paid for their work with the buyer and does not commit the FSBO to that agent. It also protects the agent from either party trying to do a side deal.
In the dating world, this would be the equivalent to "playing the field" and dating without committing.
This is the most common listing agreement type, used in just about all residential sales.
In this agreement the listing agent is guaranteed a commission regardless of who finds the buyer. That means that if another agent from any company brings a buyer, the listing Broker gets paid the agreed upon commission. This also means that if the seller finds a buyer, the listing agent will earn their commission. In many states, California included, the listing agent may also bring a buyer to the listing.
There is an exception to this though. If at the time of the listing the seller says "Mr./Mrs./Ms. Agent, I have a friend who may buy the house in 3 months, if it's still available. I'd like to not pay you if he buys it, because I've already made that agreement with them." In this case, the agent would then put that friend's name down as an exemption on the listing agreement.
This is the most popular agreement because it guarantees that the agents will be fairly compensated for their work in marketing and selling the house.
In the dating world, this is the equivalent of getting engaged or "going steady."
This type of agreement is less frequently used. In the exclusive agency agreement, the seller agrees to pay the listing Broker a commission should anyone other than the seller procure the buyer.
This agreement isn't used as frequently because it does have one major drawback. If you list the house and the seller finds their buyer, or a buyer sees the seller working in the garage and strikes up a deal, the agent is out a commission. It would be like going to work in an office, putting in a lot of work on a project, and then having your boss bring in a product from outside the company and not pay you because of it.
In the dating world, the closest analogy would be the "open relationship" where you commit to one person, but are still free to see others.
While the term "exclusive" can seem a bit daunting, it is often the best form of listing agreement. Just like in the dating world, when you enter into an exclusive relationship with another person, it allows the two of you to focus on each other's needs and to work towards a common goal (in this case selling your home).
However, just like in the dating world, different people have different needs. Make sure you only agree to the type of contract that best suits your needs. Keep in mind that just like in the dating world, the agent you are interviewing may not be willing or able to take a different type of listing contract, depending on their needs and their office's policies.
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