Successful Real Property Listing Agreements

R. Bradley Jones

The real estate market has been getting hot again recently in the Charlotte market, as well as other areas in NC, and this is driving many homeowners to contemplate listing their homes for sale.  Some may choose to attempt to market their own properties, but most will find the assistance of a knowledgeable real estate professional to be invaluable.

Along with the services of a real estate broker comes documentation.  The main document that defines the relationship between a seller and his or her agent is the Listing Agreement.  As you might expect, this agreement should ALWAYS be in writing for the protection of all parties.  Most listing agreements in North Carolina will be prepared on a “standard form” contract that is approved for use through the NC Realtors.  The form contains a number of “fill in the blank” fields which can be negotiated and completed before it is signed, but it is still important to read and understand everything before signing.

Although the form agreement may appear to be evenly drafted, sellers should be aware of how some of the terms contained in the agreement can affect them.  First, the term (or duration) of the agreement should be considered very carefully.  The form agreement does not provide for an easy exit if either side is dissatisfied, so the parties may want to keep the duration reasonably short.  Consider three months at a time.  If things don’t go well and the agreement is set for a long duration, the only way out may be by mutual agreement and that is not easily obtained if relations take a turn for the worst.  Parties who are content, but need more time to accomplish goals can always agree to extend the relationship.

Other matters that should be carefully reviewed are the triggers for the broker to earn a commission fee.  Many mistakenly believe the fee is not “earned” until a deal closes, but really the commission may be earned when a ready, willing, and able buyer is procured by the broker on the terms stated in the agreement.  Furthermore, a broker may be entitled to a commission even after the listing agreement has expired.  The circumstances under which a commission may be due after the agreement has expired should be reviewed and understood before signing.

Property listing agreements exist for the protection of both sellers and the real estate brokers.  Anyone contemplating listing property for sale with a broker should read and understand the terms of the listing agreement.  If you are unsure about your agreement, an attorney at Black, Slaughter & Black, P.A., can work with you and assist you with your particular situation.