Working With a Listing Agent: An Essential Guide for Home Sellers

Joseph Alongi
By Joseph Alongi
Updated July 29th, 2023
Listing Agent

Understanding the ins and outs of working with a listing agent is essential for a successful home selling experience. 

That’s what this comprehensive guide aims to help you with. 

You’ll learn the roles and responsibilities of a listing agent, the key benefits of collaborating with one, the commission structure, the criteria for selecting the ideal agent, and more.

Let’s dive in.

Here’s everything you need to know about working with a listing agent when selling your home. 

What is a listing agent?

A listing agent, also known as a seller’s agent, is a licensed real estate professional entrusted with representing homeowners in the process of selling their property. 

Their primary role within a real estate transaction is to provide guidance and support to homeowners throughout every stage of the home selling process.

That guidance and support includes things such as marketing, advising on home preparation and staging, negotiating, helping a seller determine the ideal list price, and more.  

Everything a seller’s agent does should ultimately lead to securing the right buyer for the property they’re selling. 

Let’s take a look at some of the things a listing agent is responsible for so you can better understand their role.

Responsibilities of a listing agent

The ultimate job of a listing agent is to sell a house for the best price and terms.

And in the shortest amount of time. 

In order to accomplish that, they must successfully execute numerous tasks.

It’s important to know what these tasks are so that you’re aware of what to expect from your realtor when selling.

Here are some of the most important responsibilities of a listing agent:

  • Protect a seller’s best interests: Listing agents have a fiduciary duty to protect a seller’s best interests. Unfortunately, not all agents live up to that obligation. That’s why it’s vital to carefully select a skilled and reputable agent who will genuinely prioritize your interests. 
  • Conduct a comparative market analysis (CMA): Real estate agents perform a market analysis to determine the optimal listing price for your home based on comparable properties in the area and current market conditions.
  • Offer guidance on required disclosures: A listing agent has the responsibility of informing a home seller about the necessary disclosures required by law in their jurisdiction. They are also tasked with assisting you in preparing these documents.
  • Advise on home preparation: They provide guidance when getting your home ready to sell, such as decluttering, staging, and making necessary repairs or improvements.
  • Execute a marketing plan: A listing agent is responsible for producing a marketing plan, using strategies like professional photography, custom videos, social media promotion, and more.
  • Manage showings and open houses: They coordinate showings with buyer agents and manage open houses, while ensuring your home is presented in the best possible light to potential buyers.
  • Reviewing, negotiating, and facilitating offers: The agent representing you should review, negotiate, and facilitate offers on your behalf. Their responsibility lies in streamlining the process and safeguarding your best interests.

Some listing agents are better at executing these tasks than others. 

The primary reason?   

They prioritize a seller’s best interests, leverage their expertise, and maximize their effort when tackling their responsibilities.

These are the real estate agents who truly earn their compensation.

Listing agent commission

Listing agents typically earn a commission based on a percentage of the home’s final sale price. 

This amount is usually deducted from the seller’s proceeds at closing. 

Here’s how it works…

The average commission percentage a seller pays is 5-6% of the final sale price (what’s considered “standard”).

But the total percentage doesn’t go directly to your listing agent. 

It’s typically split between your agent and the buyer’s agent and is paid to the company each agent works for (this is spelled out in the agreement you sign with your agent).

Each real estate agent will then get a percentage of the amount paid to their brokerage (company). 

For example, let’s say the total commission is 5%. 

Usually, 2.5% will be paid to your listing agent’s brokerage and 2.5% to the buyer’s agent’s brokerage. 

Your agent gets a percentage of that 2.5% from the agency they work for. 

It’s not uncommon for an experienced listing agent to make around 90% of that amount.

Agents with less experience or a lower transaction volume will typically make 50-80%.

And something to keep in mind…

You can negotiate the commission with a listing agent. 

There’s no fixed rule about the percentage to be paid. 

But you should consider the following factors when deciding how much to pay a realtor:

  • Experience 
  • Marketing plan
  • Overall service
  • Availability
  • Negotiating skills
  • Reputation
  • Integrity

All of these have a direct impact on the results your agent will achieve for you.

Benefits of working with a skilled listing agent

Partnering with a skilled listing agent is crucial. 


Because it’s the key to a successful (and stress-free) home selling experience.

The key word there is “skilled” because not all listing agents will give you the same advantage.

Here are some of the most notable benefits of working with a listing agent who has a successful track record:

More exposure for your home: An accomplished real estate agent can help you reach a broader audience of potential buyers. They do this by implementing an extensive marketing plan to maximize the exposure of your listing.

The right list price: A listing expert who prioritizes your interests has the expertise needed to help you set the right asking price. Doing this will drastically reduce the chances of you over or underpricing your home.

Less stress: A real estate agent with a well-established selling background can alleviate stress throughout the entire process. They do this by addressing concerns, providing support, and troubleshooting issues that arise during the sale.

A higher sale price: A skilled listing agent’s expertise in pricing, marketing, and negotiation can contribute to a higher sale price, maximizing your net proceeds.

Expert guidance: A knowledgeable agent has a deep understanding of the local real estate market, pricing strategies, and industry trends. They use this expertise to effectively guide you in making informed decisions.

Legal and regulatory knowledge: Experienced real estate agents are familiar with the legal and regulatory requirements surrounding property sales, helping you maintain transparency and avoid potential issues with buyers. 

How do you ensure you’re working with an agent who has the skill set to provide you with these benefits?

Let’s find out…

Selecting the right listing agent

As with any profession, there are some who excel at what they do and others who don’t.

It’s no different with listing agents. 

The right one can transform the entire selling process into a rewarding journey. 

But the wrong one can do the complete opposite. 

The problem?

Knowing which real estate agent is best qualified to sell your property is difficult. 

There are too many to choose from, and most sellers don’t know what qualities they should seek out.

Based on my experience, here’s what you should pay attention to so you can confidently know how to choose the right listing agent.

7 key qualifications of a good listing agent

A reputable track record: An agent with a strong reputation should be a minimum requirement — but don’t make the mistake that other home sellers do and solely base your decision on this. 

Communication and rapport: Pay attention to a prospective listing agent’s responsiveness, attentiveness, and ability to address your concerns during your initial phone call or interview.

Relevant selling experience: Agents who have sold similar properties in your area and near your price range will have a better understanding of how to make your home stand out in a competitive landscape.

Low dual agency: Real estate agents with a lower-than-average dual agency rate (when an agent represents the seller and buyer in the same transaction) demonstrate a strong commitment to prioritizing a seller’s best interests over the potential to earn two commissions from a single transaction. 

A strong marketing plan: A skilled listing agent should present you with a comprehensive marketing plan tailored to your property and your ideal buyer. 

Negotiation skills: Even if you prefer not to work with the “assertive” type, it’s important that you select an agent who knows how to advocate on your behalf when negotiating with an aggressive buyer’s agent. 

Will let you cancel the listing agreement: Being able to cancel the agreement (not standard) with your agent before its expiration date demonstrates the agent’s confidence in their ability to deliver results. This is the reason why we make it a requirement when matching a seller with a top listing agent in their area.

Understanding the listing agreement

Understanding the agreement you sign with your listing agent is something you shouldn’t skip. 


Because some agents will use it to their advantage. 

Knowing what you’re signing can also save you from potential misunderstandings.

Here are some of the important details you should know about the listing agreement:

Exclusivity clause: Most listing agreements are an “exclusive right to sell,” meaning the agent you hire has exclusive rights to sell the property (and to earn a commission). Understanding the exclusivity clause can help you avoid inadvertently violating any terms, which could lead to additional fees.

Agent responsibilities: Reviewing your agent’s responsibilities helps set clear expectations and prevent potential conflicts. It also confirms that your agent’s duties match your needs.

Seller responsibilities: Your listing agent isn’t the only one who has responsibilities. Make sure you fully understand your obligations as outlined in the agreement. 

Commission rate: Look at the total commission listed in the agreement and the percentage being paid to the buyer’s agent. If the percentage to your agent is more than the percentage for the buyer’s agent, then you’ll want to confirm why. 

Representing both parties: Be aware of the implications outlined in the agreement if your agent also represents the buyer. A dual-agency transaction presents a conflict of interest, so understanding how your agent’s duties can change is critical. 

Contract length: The typical listing agreement is for 6 months (negotiable), but varies based on local market conditions and the type of property you’re selling. Ensure you’re comfortable with the agreed-upon timeframe.  

Cancellation clause: Having the option to cancel isn’t typical, but it allows you the flexibility of terminating the contract if you’re dissatisfied with your agent’s performance. 

If any of these are unclear, make sure you ask your agent for clarification.

Tips for collaborating with your listing agent

Don’t think of working with a listing agent as a one-sided relationship. 

Of course, you’re hiring them to do a job — but you’ll significantly improve your chances of a successful sale if you efficiently work together. 

To make the most of this partnership, consider the following tips:

  1. Establish clear lines of communication: Be up front with your agent by discussing your expectations, concerns, and goals. An open and transparent dialogue ensures that you and your agent are on the same page from start to finish.
  2. Confirm your preferred contact method: Let your agent know your preferred method of communication, whether it’s via phone calls, text messages, or emails. This ensures that you both stay connected and informed throughout the process in a manner that is most convenient and efficient for you. 
  3. Trust their expertise: Remember that you’re working with your listing agent for a reason. Trust their knowledge and advice when it comes to pricing, marketing, and negotiating offers on your behalf. 
  4. Be available and responsive: Respond promptly to your agent’s calls, emails, or texts. Timely communication can be critical in addressing any issues that may arise during the home selling process.
  5. Provide necessary disclosure information: Ensure that you provide your agent with accurate and complete information about your property. This includes anything that you think might be negative, which your agent can guide you through. 
  6. Be flexible with showings: Accommodate showing requests and open houses as much as possible. The more buyers who can view your home, the higher the likelihood of receiving strong offers. Work with your listing agent to create a showing schedule that works for the both of you. 
  7. Be open to feedback: Listen to your agent’s feedback after showings and open houses, as they can provide valuable insights into what potential buyers liked or disliked about your property.
  8. Provide your input: If you have any concerns or suggestions, don’t hesitate to share them with your agent. Constructive feedback can help your agent fine-tune their approach and better cater to your needs.

The Bottom Line

Partnering with the right listing agent is crucial if you want to achieve outstanding results. 

By understanding their roles, responsibilities, and how to collaborate effectively, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the home selling journey with confidence. 

You can increase your chances of ensuring you sell with the right agent by leveraging our no-cost service. 

We vet agents in your area and make unbiased recommendations so you can hire a top listing agent who is perfectly matched for you and your home.

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Joseph Alongi
Joseph Alongi

Joseph is the CEO of SoldNest. He holds a real estate broker's license and has over eighteen years of experience in the real estate industry. He's married to his beautiful wife, Erin, and comes from a big Italian family. His biggest weakness is his mom's homemade pasta.