Property Listing

What are the Pros and Cons of an Exclusive Listing?

May 17, 2024

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Is An Exclusive Listing Worth It? 

Exclusive listing agreements give a single real estate agent/brokerage the sole right to sell your property. 

This arrangement can be a great representation structure for limiting complexity and increasing seller control but can also have consequences like limiting exposure. 

In this article, we’ll help you gain insight into whether exclusive listings, their commission structures, and their sales processes align with your goals as you navigate the complexities of your next real estate transaction. 

What Are Exclusive Listings? 

An exclusive listing grants one specific real estate agent and the brokerage that they work for the sole right to represent a seller, ensuring only that broker can market and sell the property. By contrast, non-exclusive listings allow the seller to employ more than one broker or agent. 

A listing agreement occurs generally when a property owner authorizes a real estate broker as their agent to identify and contract a buyer for the property. In return, the broker receives a commission from the sale. If the listing is open, or non-exclusive, the seller can authorize many agents to try to find a buyer but only reward the commission to the agent who produces the buyer.  

By contrast, in an exclusive listing, the seller can only enlist one agent. This person has the exclusive right to list the property, market it, and locate a buyer on the seller’s terms. Prospective buyers and their agents must go through the designated brokerage to make an offer on the home. You won’t be able to switch agents or hire other real estate agents until your exclusive listing agreement with your agent expires. Only the contracted agent receives the commission from the eventual sale. 

Types of Exclusive Listings 

There are two primary types of exclusive listings, which vary by commission structure: 

  1. Exclusive agency listing
  2. Exclusive right-to-sell listing

We’ll discuss each of these in detail below. 

Exclusive Agency Listings 

In an exclusive agency agreement, the seller appoints only one agent, but the seller still has the right to sell the property themselves without paying the broker a real estate commission. The seller only pays the broker the commission if that broker sells the property. This type of listing arrangement is less common because without a guaranteed commission to incentivize agents, agents are likely to be less motivated to sell the property at the best price possible. 

Exclusive Right-to-Sell Listings 

Exclusive right-to-sell listings differ in that the seller must pay the broker commission fees regardless of who sells the property. This means even if the seller finds a buyer themselves, they would still be responsible for paying commission fees to the contracted agent. Exclusive right-to-sell listings are more common than exclusive agency listings. 

Pros of Exclusive Listings 

Both types of exclusive listing agreements have benefits for sellers. 

  1. Dedicated, personalized representation

By choosing an exclusive listing, you gain the advantage of dedicated, personalized representation from one broker, ensuring tailored marketing efforts designed specifically for your property and a streamlined selling process. You can also build a deeper relationship with the agent and potentially facilitate future mutually beneficial listing agreements. 

  1. Simplified communication

Having a single point of contact simplifies communication and coordination, leading to a more efficient sales experience. Rather than tracking down updates from multiple agents, you can focus on keeping tabs on one person who represents you and your property. 

  1. Increased motivation for the agent to sell

Exclusive listings can also result in increased commitment from the broker to secure a successful sale at the best possible price. This is because as your dedicated representation, the agent can place more priority on your home and its sale. 

  1. Increased seller control

Exclusivity also eliminates the competition among agents for potential buyers, allowing for a more controlled approach to selling your property. Sellers with exclusive listings typically have slightly more control over who views their property. This arrangement is suitable for sellers who want more privacy during the property sale. 

Overall, the benefits of exclusive listings lie in the specialized attention and expertise provided by one dedicated broker throughout the selling process. 

Cons of Exclusive Listings 

Like anything in a real estate transaction, exclusive listings also have their drawbacks. Here are a few of them: 

  1. Limited exposure

One of the challenges of exclusive listings is the potential for limited exposure to a broader range of buyers. When you choose an exclusive listing agreement, you’re essentially restricting the marketing and sale of your property to only one real estate agent or brokerage. This exclusivity can hinder your property from reaching a wider pool of prospective buyers who might be interested in making an offer. 

  1. Longer time on market

With limited exposure, there’s a risk that your property may take longer to sell, especially if it doesn’t align perfectly with the current agent’s client base. It’s essential to weigh the benefits of working exclusively with one agent against the drawbacks of potentially reduced visibility in the market. 

  1. Effects on real estate community

Exclusive listings are sometimes controversial because of the effects they have on the local real estate community. These include potentially decrease accuracy of home prices that buyer see, limiting information available to other investors looking to sell their properties, and reducing fair competition. 

  1. Potentially higher commission fees

Some exclusive agents charge higher or different commission fees than most sellers might be accustomed to. Note, however, that the way that sellers pay real estate professionals is changing this summer, as a triggered by a recent federal lawsuit concerning the National Association of Realtors (NAR). In August 2024, sellers will no longer be responsible for paying buyers’ agents’ commissions. Sellers will still be responsible for paying their own agents’ commissions. 

Considerations for the Exclusive Listing Route 

It’s important to consider all the key factors and the above pros and cons when deciding whether to opt for an exclusive listing in real estate. If you do choose to proceed with an exclusive listing agreement, assess the duration and terms of the agreement with the real estate agent carefully. 

The implications of limited exposure and market reach that come with exclusive listings may make this option unsuitable for some sellers. For others, the potential benefits of developing a longer-term relationship with one agent and having more control over pricing and viewings make exclusive listings worth the risks. 

Be mindful of possible complex fee structures with exclusive listings, slower sales due to reduced exposure, and a higher risk of conflicts of interest with the agent. Ensure that you’re comfortable with the level of exclusivity and the potential trade-offs before committing to an exclusive listing agreement. 

Exclusive vs. Expired Listing Real Estate Terms 

‘Expired listing’ is a similar term with a different meaning in real estate. 

Exclusive listings are active agreements between a seller and one real estate agent, granting exclusivity in marketing and selling the property. In contrast, expired listings are properties whose listing agreements with agents have ended without a successful sale. A listing agreement usually lasts between 6 and 12 months, after which if the agent was unsuccessful in finding a buyer, the listing agreement will expire. 

Exclusive listings provide a focused approach with one dedicated agent, aiming for a successful sale within the agreed-upon terms. On the other hand, expired listings signal a past attempt to sell that didn’t materialize.  

Expired listings can be found on the MLS with their status changed to “expired.” Some investors specifically seek out expired listings, especially those with the potential to create profit for the investor or become a successful “flip.” However, for other investors, expired listings can garner suspicion and cause them to wonder why the house didn’t sell. The reasons can vary widely, from poor marketing technique to major needed repairs or even simply overpricing. 


When it comes to selling your property in the competitive real estate market, exclusive listings offer you the advantage of having one broker exclusively represent you throughout the sales process. 

While there may be challenges and considerations to navigate, the benefits of exclusive listings can ultimately lead to a smoother and more efficient sale. 

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