Understanding the Difference Between Exclusive Right to Sell and Exclusive Agency Listings


The exclusive right to sell and the exclusive agency listing agreements are two topics frequently confused by real estate exam prep students. 

In an exclusive right to sell listing, the broker earns their agreed upon commission  if the home sells during the listing period. During an active exclusive right to sell listing, the broker is owed a commission regardless of who sold the home.

A broker also earns their commission if the home is sold during an exclusive agency listing agreement if the broker (or a cooperating brokerage) sells the home.

In an exclusive agency listing agreement, however, the seller is sometimes able to avoid paying a brokerage commission. When the seller finds the buyer through their own effort, they don't pay the broker a commission. The seller must also close the deal without the assistance of the broker.

Watch the Wording of Exam Questions

Exam questions often ask you to determine if a broker has earned a commission. Determine which type of listing agreement is in place to select the correct answer.

Example: "Sally has an exclusive right to sell listing with her real estate broker. Her brother offered to buy her home and Sally sold it to him during the listing period. Does she owe her broker a commission?"

Sally has an exclusive right to sell agreement with her broker. Although Sally sold the house directly to her brother, her broker is still owed a commission. 

Simple changes to the wording can change the answer. Be aware of what the question is asking.

Example: "Sally has an exclusive agency listing with her real estate broker. Her brother offered to buy her home and Sally sold it to him during the listing period. Does she owe her broker a commission?"

Sally does not owe her broker a commission in this scenario because she had an exclusive agency agreement and sold the home herself.

To review this topic, check out the audio clip above.

About the Author

Maria Center

Maria Center began her real estate career in 2003 as a real estate agent in Ohio. She was licensed as an Ohio real estate broker in 2011, owned her own brokerage from 2011-2017, and currently works as an associate broker at Sibcy Cline Realtors.

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