OPEN LISTING: A Complete Overview, Types, And Examples


If you are a potential real estate agent learning the ins and outs of the real estate business, or a potential homeowner looking to hire a broker; it is important to understand some industry expertise. Not only will this keep you informed throughout the process, but it will also help you understand your options no matter which side of the transaction you are on.

One of the central operations of real estate is the listing of a property. But what does that really mean? This piece contains a complete overview of open listing including its definition, types, and overall concept.

What is Open Listing?

A listing contract is “a legally binding contract that creates an agency relationship that entitles a broker to act as an agent for a client in a real estate transaction.” In other words, a listing contract is an employment contract between a client and a broker that states what the broker is responsible for in the real estate transaction and how the client pays for it.

A violation of this agreement can have legal consequences for both the broker and the customer, depending on who violates which part of the agreement. However, listing agreements must be in writing to be enforceable.

How Open Listing Works

The main difference between an open listing and an offer that only gives a real estate agent the right to market and sell a home is that an owner generally only pays a sales agent’s commission in this situation, the owner is not represented. This is roughly half the typical fees.

The owners don’t pay a broker to represent themselves, but they pay the broker who represents the buyer. And the owner doesn’t owe a commission to anyone if the owner alone finds the buyer.

Types of Listings

The four common types of listings include:

  • Open listings
  • Exclusive Right to Sell Listing
  • Exclusive agency listings, and
  • Net listings.

Open listing

An open listing is a non-exclusive contract. This type of listing gives the seller or buyer the right to hire any number of brokers. With an open listing, all contracted agents can market the property or search for the property at the same time, but only the agent who is willing, and able to bring the seller to the buyer or who finds the desired property for a buyer will receive a commission received.

However, if the customer buys or sells a property himself, he does not have to pay the broker any commission. For this reason, open listings are rare as they offer the slightest assurance that the broker will receive compensation for their efforts.

Exclusive Right to Sell Listing

The exclusive right to sell listings is the most widely used listing agreement. According to this agreement, the broker has the exclusive right to market the property for a certain period of time. If the property is sold while the agent has the listing, the seller will have to pay the agreed commission regardless of who actually purchased the buyer. This limits any conflict with the seller about who was responsible for hiring the buyer.

Exclusive Agency Listing

An exclusive agency listing agreement gives the agent the right to market and sell a property for a specified period of time, while the owner reserves the right to find a buyer and sell the property without owing the agent any commission.

The seller only has to pay a commission if the broker or an authorized agent or subagent of the broker sells the home. This type of listing is not very common in residential property transactions as it increases the likelihood of a dispute between the agent and the seller as to who really caused the sale.

Net listing

A net listing is technically not a type of listing agreement at all. In a net listing, an owner sets a minimum amount they would like to receive from the sale of the property and allows the agent to use any amount above the set minimum as commission.

In such a situation, while the seller gets what he wants from the sale, a conflict of interest arises for the broker by violating the broker’s fiduciary responsibility to put the client’s interests before his own. For this reason, online listings are generally viewed as unprofessional and illegal in many states.

Open listing vs Exclusive listing

Have you ever wondered why you should give an exclusive listing to a real estate agent to sell your property instead of selling to multiple real estate agents with an open listing?

The open listing path jeopardizes the chances of the seller getting the maximum price for their property. In fact, It’s advisable for potential sellers to stick exclusively with a single agent, rather than listing their property on an open list. Doing otherwise would jeopardize their position.

Why exclusive offers work better

In general, the goal of sellers is to get the maximum price that can be obtained in the market. This requires good negotiating skills on the part of the agent. If you have multiple agents selling your property, the potential buyer will contact all of the agents and find who they think is most on their side and then negotiate.

Because agents know they are competing with each other to keep the buyer, their alliance may not be geared towards the best interests of the seller.

When a buyer finds that multiple agents are listed to sell a property, it generally indicates a level of desperation on the part of the seller and empowers them in the negotiation process.

Most buyers may come from online advertising. Therefore, having multiple agents working to sell your property does not increase the number of buyers. In essence, the only option left for the buyer is to choose the broker who they believe is more suitable for your interests.

An agent who has an exclusive agency will put more time and effort into selling their property as they don’t fear that all of their work will be wasted.

Open Listing Example

When you’re ready to sell your home, you can sign a contract with an individual real estate agent or opt for an open listing. For example, imagine having to sell your home within a month to move to work in a new city. You decide to sell your home as an open listing.

Four real estate agents promote your home to potential buyers. Two brokers work together to make the sale easier and these brokers split the sales commission after your deal is closed.

Why Listing Types matter to Renters

It is important for interested buyers or renters to always ask the listing agent whether they are promoting an open or exclusive listing.

When a listing is an exclusive listing, the agent has some basics privilege over the property such as follows:

  • Know how negotiable the owner or seller is
  • Have direct “control” over the rent
  • Know the existing offers in rent.
  • Know what type of tenant the landlord is looking for and the terms and conditions of an agreement.
  • Information about an exclusive listing is usually very specific. The reason is that the exclusive agent is solely responsible for marketing the unit.

However, an open listing means that many realtors can advertise the property on the internet. These apartments can usually be shown at any time of the day. As there are many brokers promoting the property, it is possible that.

The property is already rented or sold (without the knowledge of other agents). Brokers who advertise the property have no knowledge of offers or inquiries to other brokers.

Agents promoting real estate have little power over negotiation. The agent must confirm the availability of the property with the owner or seller if you have expressed interest in the property.


Open listings can be useful for sellers in rural areas who do not want to commit to a single real estate agent. Nationwide listings usually cover large areas and word of mouth is spreading quickly. Sellers in the country can list with any broker in the area if the brokers so choose, and then they only pay the broker who ultimately comes up with the winning bid.

The downside is that the seller typically doesn’t have an agent to act as trustee or in negotiations, home inspections, or disclosures. There are no fancy photos, air tours, 3D enhancements, or professional marketing efforts unless the seller is able to handle these things in person. In fact, the seller pays another broker to negotiate for the buyer.

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