What Is a Listing Agent and What Do They Do?

Ben Kissam
Written by Ben Kissam
Updated August 4, 2022
A listing agent checking property prices on laptop
Photo: Lyndon Stratford / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images


  • Listing agents represent the home sellers in real estate transactions.

  • They analyze comparable properties to determine the sale price of your home.

  • Listing agents help home sellers negotiate offers and communicate with the buyer’s agent.

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

Whether you’re selling your home during a red-hot seller’s market or a slow buyer’s market, it makes sense to work with a real estate agent to ensure your home sale goes smoothly. A listing agent can help you navigate the complex and often lengthy process of a property transaction. Here’s what you need to know about listing agents.

What Is a Listing Agent?

A listing agent, sometimes known as the seller’s agent, is a real estate agent who works on behalf of the seller in a real estate transaction. This agent works with the seller from the start of the home sale process—listing the home—to the final closing day.

Listing Agent vs. Selling Agent: Are They The Same?

Listing agents and selling agents are not the same. The main difference is that a listing agent represents the home seller and selling agents represent the potential home buyer.

A listing agent assists homeowners with marketing and selling their homes, including tasks like getting a home appraisal, putting together comps, hosting open houses, and scheduling home showings.

Selling agents help buyers find and purchase a home. These real estate professionals assist potential buyers with choosing and touring homes, budget assistance, and more advanced steps, such as preparing closing paperwork.

Listing Agent vs. Buyer’s Agent

Buyer's agents also differ from listing agents. As the name implies, buyer’s agents are legally bound to help a potential home buyer find and secure a new home. Many home buyers hire a buyer's agent because they want someone on their side during the house hunting and paperwork signing processes. 

It’s important to remember that a listing agent’s goal is to sell their client’s home, while a buyer’s agent is striving to help their clients buy a home. When a real estate professional represents both sides of a transaction, it’s called dual agency, and it can create a serious conflict of interest. 

What Does a Listing Agent Do?

First, the listing agent will analyze comparable properties (comps) in the area to determine the market value of the seller’s home. Once the seller agrees to an asking price, the listing agent creates the listing, and the property is officially on the market for sale.

The listing agent will promote the property, including scheduling individual showings and hosting open houses. During the process, the listing agent serves as the main point of contact for buyers’ agents and handles all inquiries from potential buyers. They will receive the offers, lead any negotiation conversations, and help the seller decide on which offer to accept.

When the property sells, the seller pays the commission of the listing agent. The commission is typically wrapped up in the sale price of the home, so when the property closes, the listing agent receives their fees. The commission is usually split between the listing agent and the buyer’s agent, and the listing agent’s agency will also take their cut.

Do You Need a Listing Agent to Sell Your Home?

A listing agent showing a property’s plans to a couple
Photo: Pekic / E+ / Getty Images

It is possible to sell your home on your own by listing your home as For Sale By Owner (FSBO). But finding a buyer for your home requires plenty of work, time commitment, and real estate knowledge.

Since you’ve likely got your hands full with packing up your home and preparing for a move—not to mention purchasing a new property—your best option is to entrust a listing agent with the details and paperwork of your home sale.

What Are the Benefits of Using a Listing Agent?

From legal protection to better pricing, there are plenty of benefits to using a listing agent to sell your home. 

A recent study from Collateral Analytics shows that For Sale By Owner (FSBO) homes sell for about 5.5% less than comparable listings sold on the multiple listing service (MLS). The MLS is an online database that listing agents use to market your home to the most people possible and gives the sale authority and validity.

A listing agent also acts as a gatekeeper of sorts. Through experience, they understand how to follow serious leads to sell your home quickly and can find quality buyer candidates. Sure, you'll pay a fee for their services, but in the majority of cases, hiring a professional listing agent to manage your home sale is worth it.

How to Find a Listing Agent

The real estate industry is driven by networking and building relationships. That’s why many people ask their close friends, relatives, or colleagues for recommendations of local listing agents. It’s always nice to work with a referral because you have some degree of confidence in the real estate agent’s expertise. 

Don’t worry if you don’t have any referrals, though. Instead, do your research. Go online and check out the latest property sales closed by local agents or brokerage firms. If a listing agent has a steady track record of sales—bonus points if the homes sold are similar to your type of home—then you can feel confident working with this agent. Feel free to check in with the local Better Business Bureau (BBB) to learn more about the good standing of the agency. 

Ultimately, you want to feel that your property sale is in good hands. You want to work with someone who knows the value of your home and understands the local market so that they can negotiate the best price for your home.

Questions to Ask a Listing Agent

Here are some things you should ask a listing agent before hiring them:

  • Can you provide a list of references or referrals to contact?

  • How long have you been a listing agent?

  • What areas or locations do you specialize in?

  • How many residential homes have you sold in the last 12 to 18 months?

  • What is your marketing plan for selling my home?

  • Do you use online promotion tools and social media? If so, how?

  • What is your communication style like, and how will you keep me informed?

How Can You Become a Listing Agent?

While every state has its own rules and regulations for becoming a licensed real estate agent or broker, it always requires a certain number of classroom hours followed by a state licensure exam. Once a real estate agent has successfully passed the exam and earned their license, they can work at an agency under a real estate broker.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.