The Trap of Long-Term Listing Agreements

Long-term listing agreements are great for Realtors® and bad for Sellers. Period. As a real estate attorney and real estate broker, I have encountered countless clients who felt their agent wasn’t living up to their expectations, yet the agent would not let the Sellers out of their listing agreement. Over the years, I have come to notice an inverse relationship between the quality of the listing agent and the length of the listing agreement. Weaker agents tend to ask for long listing agreements, sometimes even six months or more. Strong agents who invest in heavily marketing their listings tend to have more confidence and they generally ask for shorter binding commitments.

If a home hasn’t sold, Sellers should not be held hostage by a long-term agreement. Generally 30 to 45 days should be sufficient for the Sellers to determine whether they are happy with the service they are receiving from the person they entrusted with the sale of their home. If the Sellers are happy, then they can always extend the agreement if necessary.

If an agent insists on a listing agreement of longer than 60 days, then the Sellers should insist that the listing agreement include an itemized marketing plan (which is always a good idea anyway) as an addendum. This should include reference to sample brochures, videos, 3-D tours, newspaper ads (size and frequency), international marketing, staging, and all other services discussed. That way, the Sellers will have a written standard by which they can judge the agent’s efforts. If the agent doesn’t live up to the specific commitments they make, then they will be in breach of contract, which should give the Sellers the opportunity to move on to a different agent.

At DeLeon Realty, we believe in a 39- day listing period, which begins on the day that the home comes on the MLS.