Details of a Listing Contract
Many people think of the real estate agent as a salesperson. Many agents (perhaps most agents) would jump at the chance to be "just" a salesperson. But they aren't just a salesperson. Most states have legislated it so that real estate agents are also -- agents.
An agent is "responsible" to their clients. They have a duty, called a "fiduciary duty." This means the agent is responsible to act in the best interests of their client. A car salesman does not have to act in your best interests -- they just have to sell the car. It isn't that simple for real estate agents.
Real estate agents not only have to sell the house, they have to be responsible. That involves a lot of liability, which is one reason for all the disclosures and the pages and pages of contracts, and why they want to be paid for being more than "just" a salesman.
The listing contract will specify that your agent is acting as a "seller�s agent." This means that, in the sale of your house, they are working for you and only you -- and looking out for your best interests.
However, there may be times when your listing agent has a client who wants to buy your home. For that reason, there is a little "wiggle room" in the listing contract. If your agent also represents the buyer, the listing contract should specify that they provide an additional disclosure that details whether they continue to act as your agent or assume the duties of a dual agent.
The contract also provides permission for your listing agent to act as an agent for others on other transactions. They can continue to list other properties, and represent buyers looking at other homes besides yours.
copyright 2000 by Terry Light and RealEstate ABC, revised 2002