Types of Listing Contracts
There are actually several types of listing contracts, but few of them are used. The "Exclusive Right to Sell" is the most common, but a few other types are the "open listing," the "exclusive agency listing," and the "one-time show."
The "open listing" is typically used by individuals trying to sell their home by owner but are still willing to work with an agents. It gives an agent the right to bring buyers to view your home and if their client buys the home, the agent earns a previously agreed to commission. There is no commitment to one agent and a home seller can give out an open listing agreement to as many agents as they want. The downside is no agent is putting your home in the MLS and marketing it, basically if your home fits the criteria for one of their clients, and it is convenient, they may be willing to show it to their client. That's really all an "open listing" is good for.
Like an "open listing" a "one-time show" is often used by agents who are showing a FSBO (for sale by owner) to one of their clients. The FSBO seller signs the agreement, which identifies the potential buyer and guarantees the agent an agreed to commission if that buyer purchase the home. This protects the agent and prevents the buyer and seller from negotiating directly later and trying to avoid paying the agent’s commission. Just like the open listing, an agent will not be putting your home into the MLS or marketing your home.
Exclusive Agency Listing
An "exclusive agency" listing allows an agent to list your home in the MLS and to market your home, this guarantees them a commission if the house sells through any real estate agent or company. This is not a popular type of listing agreement because it still allows the seller to seek out buyers on their own so there is not much incentive for agents to spend money marketing your home. If the seller comes up with their own buyer, the agent has spent money they cannot earn back through the real estate commission and it also makes it easy for a buyer to go around the agent and negotiate directly with the seller. Don't expect too much from an agent that accepts this kind of listing. They will most likely only put it on the MLS and wait to see if it sells through another agent.
Exclusive Right to Sell
Just because you give an agent the "exclusive right to sell" your property does not mean no other agents will be involved. This agreement makes your agent the listing agent and part of their job is to market your home to other agents working with buyers. Those agents will show your home to their clients and regardless of who sells the home, your agent will earn a commission. This is the only type of listing an effective real estate agent will accept because they have a fair expectation of recouping the money they spend on marketing your property.