What Is an Open Listing?

An “open listing” is a non-exclusive real estate contract in which more than one broker may be employed to sell a property, including the owners themselves.

The owner of the home agrees to pay a commission to whoever procures a ready and willing buyer first, according to the agreement.

This means the seller only has to pay half the typical commission, instead of paying 2.5%-3% to both a listing agent and a buyer’s agent.

An open listing may be employed if the property is perceived as easy to sell, or the market is red hot and finding buyers willing to pay top dollar won’t be difficult.

Homeowners will offer this type of listing to as many brokers as possible in the hopes that they may have interested clients. But an open listing is not exclusive, making it extremely difficult for any one broker to make the sale, or show much interest in pursuing it.

In fact, most brokers won’t bother listing the property on the MLS if it’s an open listing, as it’s perceived as a waste of time and money.

Put simply, there’s no guarantee they’ll earn the commission, and thus it’s not smart to spend a dime facilitating the sale.

For these reasons, the open listing is one of the more uncommon listing types available to sellers.

First Come, First Paid with an Open Listing

Multiple brokers could be working to find a suitable buyer, but it’s really first come, first paid. At any given time a broker may lose out to another agent, regardless of the work they’ve put in to find a buyer.

And during that time, the homeowner may find a buyer without the assistance of any of the brokers, and sell the home without paying out a commission to anyone.

There is also fear that a homeowner will poach buyers from real estate agents to negotiate a lower sales price sans commission. All they have to do is get their contact info and meet with them without the buyer’s agent.

Typically, homeowners who decide on an open listing are one notch above for-sale-by-owners, and may not have a strong urgency to sell their property.

These will-sell sellers may feel that an open listing will lead to greater buyer exposure when in fact it leads to a handful of mediocre attempts by a larger group of brokers.

Most real estate offices will turn down open listings because of the poor likelihood for such a property to sell. Real estate agents tend to hold out for an exclusive-right-to-sell listing, which offers them the sole right to procure a buyer for a property.

It is possible for a property to sell as an open listing, but understand that agents will show less interest and provide more limited services.

There’s just no sense in spending money and investing time in something that might not provide a return. Granted, no real estate listing is guaranteed. Plenty of homes are listed by agents exclusively and fail to sell before the contract expires.

However, the chances are probably much better than what an open listing affords.

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