Can I Use Two Realtors to List the Same Property?

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If you were building a home, you might think hiring two general contractors would speed up the process or provide more options. However, multiple competing contractors can create a long list of challenges — everything from scheduling nightmares to miscommunications and added liabilities. The same holds true if you’re pondering the question: Can two Realtors list the same property?

In most cases, to achieve the best results when selling a home, you want to find a top-rated listing agent with a proven track record of attracting the best offers (high list-to-sale ratio) and a favorable selling timeline (low days on market).

This post will guide you through the feasibility and considerations of using two Realtors to sell your home, helping you make an informed choice about this uncommon and unpopular strategy.

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Can I use two Realtors to sell my house?

“Legally, it is possible for sellers to engage multiple Realtors simultaneously, but there are obviously things to consider,” says Scott Boeser, a top real estate agent with the Manavi Boeser team in Virginia. “It is allowed, however, it might not be the best for a seller to do.”

Yes, technically, you can use two Realtors to sell your house, but it involves specific types of listing agreements and isn’t widely practiced due to potential complications, costs, and legal potholes. Here are the three main types of listing agreements that determine how Realtors can be involved in selling your property:

Exclusive right to sell agreement

This is the most common type of listing agreement. Under this contract, one real estate agent has the exclusive right to earn the commission by representing the seller and bringing in a buyer. If the property is sold while the agreement is active, the agent earns the commission, regardless of who actually finds the buyer.

“The exclusive right to sell agreement is the standard agreement that most brokerages use when entering into an agreement with the selling party,” Boeser says. It grants one brokerage and the agent who is a part of that brokerage the exclusive right to represent and sell a property.”

This arrangement makes it difficult to legally involve a second Realtor without breaching contract terms.

Exclusive agency listing agreement

An exclusive agency listing agreement allows you to list your property with one agency while retaining the right to sell the property yourself. In this scenario, if you find a buyer independently, you don’t have to pay a commission to the agent. This type of agreement provides more flexibility compared to an exclusive right to sell but still typically involves only one agency.

Non-exclusive right to sell (open listing)

Under an open listing, multiple Realtors can be enlisted to sell the property, but only the one who brings an accepted offer to the seller gets the commission. This non-exclusive arrangement is the most likely scenario where more than one Realtor could actively market your property. However, this type of listing is less appealing to agents as their chance of earning a commission is not guaranteed, making them less likely to invest significant effort compared to exclusive agreements.

What is co-listing in real estate?

Co-listing is when two (normally competing) real estate agents agree to work together to list and sell a home. The two agents will draw up a contract agreeing to share responsibility for marketing and showing the property, and ultimately closing the deal for the seller. The agreement will also spell out how the agents will split the commission. This might involve a 50-50 split, or one agent may agree to a lesser amount for a lighter workload.

If you’re considering having two agents list the same property, you’ll discover that most Realtors prefer not to enter co-listing agreements.

Evolving listing agreements

In March 2024, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) announced a landmark lawsuit settlement that will change the way real estate agent commissions are handled in the future. These changes will “decouple” seller and buyer agent compensation and may impact how listing agreements are crafted. Learn more at this link.

Should I use two Realtors to sell my house?

Deciding whether to use two Realtors to sell your house depends on several factors, including the complexity of your sale, the local market conditions, and your specific needs. It will also depend heavily on your ability to find two agents willing to accept a co-listing agreement. Most experienced agents will balk at this request.

“Logistically, you’re dealing with two separate entities, two separate brokerages, two different agents,” Boeser explains. “When there are two parties that might do things differently, and you’re communicating to one seller, there are bound to be inefficiencies and miscommunications along the way. It’s going to be a complex, competing strategy.”

Here are some scenarios where you might consider the two-agent route:

  • Your home is not selling: If you’ve been using one agent without success, and you’re not tied to an exclusive right-to-sell agreement, two Realtors may increase the visibility of your property by tapping into different networks and marketing strategies.
  • You’ve tried lowering your price: If you still have not had success even with lowering your home’s sale price, you might ask your current agent to delist your property and see if they are open to a co-listing agreement and relist strategy to possibly get better results from a team effort.
  • You need targeted expertise: If your property has unique aspects that require specialized knowledge, having two agents might provide a broader range of expertise.
  • You need additional speed and efficiency: Co-listing could potentially lead to a faster sale if both agents are actively bringing potential buyers to your property.

Even if you’re home sale efforts fall within these possible scenarios, using two Realtors can complicate communication and coordination.

Boeser advises sticking with the proven exclusive right to sell agreement. “We believe it’s the best way to go because it ensures that you have a dedicated agent fully committed to the marketing of the property and selling the home,” he says. The [exclusive right to sell agreement] provides clarity on commission and avoids disputes down the line.”

You may need a better agent: If you are not seeing the results you expected, you could have an ineffective real estate agent — or an agent lacking the expertise your home sale needs. You may be better off seeking to terminate your existing listing contract and starting fresh. (See our alternatives section later in this post.) Boeser says when this happens, it’s often “because expectations weren’t properly managed upfront or a communication breakdown happened.”

Why most Realtors don’t do co-listing agreements

Many Realtors are hesitant to enter into co-listing agreements for several reasons:

Split commissions

The necessity to split commissions can deter most seasoned Realtors, as it might not provide enough financial incentive compared to handling a sale individually. Sharing earnings can be a significant drawback, especially in competitive markets where agents rely heavily on full commissions to sustain their business.

Complexity in coordination

Co-listing requires a high level of coordination between the agents, which can lead to conflicts or misunderstandings regarding responsibilities and strategies. This complexity can make the process more time-consuming and less efficient, potentially leading to frustration for all parties involved.

Reputational risks

If the sale encounters problems, such as delays or dissatisfaction from the seller, it could impact the reputation of both agents. Additionally, each Realtor’s brand and selling style might not always align, potentially complicating their marketing efforts. This misalignment can affect how the property is presented and perceived by potential buyers.

Legal risks

“If you have two different brokerages doing things at the same time, one brokerage might not be pulling their weight, or they may not be doing things correctly. So there could be legal implications,” Boeser cautions.

Reasons two Realtors might agree to co-list

Despite the challenges, there are scenarios where Realtors might see a benefit in co-listing a property:

One is a new agent

A new agent might partner with a more experienced Realtor to gain exposure, learn the ropes, and leverage the senior agent’s reputation and network. This arrangement allows the new agent to build their portfolio while contributing enthusiasm and additional support.

One has property expertise

When a property requires specific knowledge, such as luxury homes or specialized listings like horse properties, an agent with relevant expertise can significantly enhance the marketing strategy and appeal to the right buyers.

One has specialized skills

An agent may bring specialized skills that complement the traditional selling process. “Maybe one brokerage is really good at staging and photography and videographing your property while the other is better at social networking and able to draw buyers in through different channels,” Boeser says. These skills can make the property stand out in competitive markets.

One is trusted by the seller but busy

If a seller has a trusted relationship with an agent who is currently overwhelmed with other listings or commitments, that agent might co-list the property with another to ensure the seller receives attentive service without compromising on quality.

One is trusted but outside the market

Sometimes a seller’s trusted agent is based in a different geographical area. To effectively handle local aspects of the sale, this agent might collaborate with a local Realtor who understands the regional market and buyer behaviors.

One agent has temporary availability

An agent who is temporarily unavailable due to health issues or personal commitments might co-list with another agent to maintain continuity in the selling process and ensure the property remains actively marketed.

Two agents have a strong professional relationship

When two agents have a history of successful collaboration and mutual respect, they are more likely to work together effectively. Their strong professional relationship can facilitate smoother communication and shared responsibilities, leading to a more strategic and unified approach to selling the property.

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Co-listing example scenario

Let’s say the Johnsons have worked with Realtor Sarah in the past to buy and sell several homes. They are now selling a property that is outside Sarah’s market or beyond her area of expertise. Sarah feels the same level of loyalty to the Johnsons and wants to be certain they receive the best level of service possible, so she proposes several options.

First, she could simply refer the Johnsons to an agent who serves the market or who specializes in the property type. However, because she knows the Johnsons and is able to provide valuable insights that can lead to better results for her past clients, Sarah proposes a co-listing agreement with a second Realtor.

The details of that agreement might include:

  • Division of labor: Sarah will handle client communications and negotiations, leveraging her longstanding relationship with the Johnsons, while the second Realtor focuses on local marketing and showings.
  • Sharing of expenses: Marketing and advertising costs are shared between Sarah and the second Realtor, ensuring that both contribute to the financial aspects of selling the home.
  • Commission split: The commission is divided based on the amount of work each Realtor contributes, or a predetermined percentage that reflects their roles in the sale.
  • Duration of agreement: The co-listing arrangement is set for a specific period, typically until the home is sold or a mutual decision to end the partnership is reached.
  • Conflict resolution: A clause for resolving disagreements between the two agents, ensuring that any issues can be handled professionally without affecting the sale or the client’s interests.

Only one agent can list in the MLS: In a co-listing situation, while both agents work together to sell the property, only one agent can officially list your property on the local multiple listing service (MLS). This universal restriction helps prevent fraud and avoid the potential confusion of duplicate listings.

Pros and cons of using two Realtors to sell

Possible pros

  • Increased exposure: Having two agents can potentially double the network of potential buyers, as each agent brings their own contacts and marketing strategies.
  • Complementary skills: Each Realtor might bring different skills and strengths to the table, such as digital marketing expertise or specific local knowledge, which can enhance the overall selling strategy.
  • Continuous availability: With two agents, there’s a higher likelihood that one will always be available to handle inquiries, showings, and negotiations, ensuring no opportunities are missed.

Possible cons

  • Higher commission costs: If the co-listing agreement is not clear and specific — including how to handle agent disagreements — having two Realtors could put you in a sticky position where you’re forced to pay higher commission fees or be responsible for unexpected expenses.
  • Potential for conflict: Differences in opinions and strategies between two agents can lead to conflicts, slowing down decision-making and potentially impacting the sale process or the seller’s reputation.
  • Complex communications: Coordinating between multiple parties can complicate communication with buyers and between the agents themselves, potentially leading to mixed messages or delays.

Do I have to pay two commission fees? While co-listing involves two agents, you typically negotiate a single commission fee, which the agents agree to split based on their contract. The specifics can vary based on the agreement, which is why it’s crucial to define these terms clearly before signing a co-listing agreement.

How to find an agent willing to co-list

Finding the right agent(s) to co-list your property requires careful consideration and clear communication. Here’s what to focus on:

What to ask the Realtors

  • Desire, experience, and track record: First, ask if the agent is willing to participate in a co-listing agreement. Then, ask about their experience with co-listing and the outcomes of those partnerships.
  • Communication style: Understand how they plan to communicate with you and with the co-listing agent to ensure a streamlined and conflict-free process.
  • Marketing strategy: Inquire about how they plan to market your property. Are their methods compatible? How will they integrate their strategies?
  • Availability: Confirm their availability throughout the selling process, ensuring that they can respond promptly to your needs and buyer inquiries.
  • Terms of the agreement: Discuss how responsibilities, costs, and the commission will be split. Make sure these terms are clearly outlined in the co-listing agreement to avoid future conflicts.

 Alternatives to using two listing Realtors

If you’re hesitant about co-listing your property with two Realtors, there are several alternatives that can still help you maximize the sale potential of your home:

  • Hire a single agent with a strong support team: Choose a Realtor with a robust team behind them. This allows for specialized attention in areas like marketing, showings, and negotiations.
  • Sign a shorter exclusive right to sell: Work with one Realtor under an exclusive right-to-sell contract, but limit your agreement to a shorter period of time. This will allow you more flexibility to shift selling strategies if necessary.
  • Find a top-rated Realtor with a wide network: Opt for an agent known for their extensive network and strong presence in the real estate market, which will ensure broad exposure for your property.

You shouldn’t need two Realtors to list your home

Boeser’s parting advice: “Start with one experienced agent who is committed to marketing and selling your home versus multiple agents with different goals and objectives.

“Whether it’s the video marketing, photo marketing, property descriptions, brochures, social media campaigns, open houses, or mega open houses, it’s all done with one party who has a rhyme to the reason in which they work,” Boeser says. “Hopefully, you’ve interviewed agents and found one with a successful track record.”

This approach of starting with a single, highly competent agent allows you to benefit from a streamlined communication path and a focused strategy tailored to your property’s unique aspects.

HomeLight can introduce you to the high-performing agents in your market who can make all the difference in turning your home sale into a success story. Start your journey with an agent who stands out for their exceptional, proven results.

»Learn more: How to Find a Top-Performing Realtor in 30 Minutes or Less

Header Image Source: (Alix Greenman / Unsplash)