The first step to selling your home or condo


The listing agreement is an agreement or “contract” between a property owner and a licensed real estate professional. The listing agreement authorizes an agent to act on the behalf of the property owner for the purpose of selling the subject property. In other words, the listing agreement describes the powers and limits of your real estate agent when your sell your home. Listing agreements can be negotiated to include any number of terms specific to your relationship and property, but all valid listing agreements will always include the following elements:


In the Commonwealth of Virginia verbal real estate contracts are valid but not enforceable. What does that mean? Well in short-hand it means that all real estate contracts must be in writing.


The listing agreement is actually an employment contract for personal services offered by the broker to a property seller. This contract describes the terms and conditions of employing the broker. Often the broker will assign an agent to a specific property, but the listing contract is not between the agent and the seller. The listing agreement is an agreement with the broker employing the agent and the property owner. The listing agreement grants the broker and his agent the power to represent you in marketing and selling your home.



For any contract to be valid, there has to be compensation. A listing agreement is no different. The listing agreement specifies the amount paid to the broker and establishes the timing of the payment to the broker. Most listing agreements charge a percentage of the sales price and this amount is paid at closing when the home sells.

In addition, the listing agreement will also describe instances where the seller might have to pay the broker even though the property has not sold. A rare example of this can happen when a broker finds a qualified buyer who is ready and willing to pay the asking price with the terms the seller wants, but the seller refuses to go through with the sale.


The listing agreement requires the seller to make representations with regard to who owns title to the property. Obviously, only the owner of a property can sell a property, but the portion of the agreement also ensures against the possibility that there are additional owners of the property. All owners of the property must agree to the listing agreement.


The seller authorizes the broker to act on his behalf for only for a specified period of time, or “term”. The term is often 180 days and is only rarely less than 60 days. A listing agreement is a legally binding contract, so the property owner should never agree to a listing that doesn’t specify a termination date. In the event that the listing terminates before the property sells, it is a simple matter to sign a new listing agreement with a new termination date.

View of the Colecroft townhouse condos
Colecroft is at the Braddock Rd. Metro Station

Fine Print

There are of course other components to the listing agreement. Most of these are time-tested boiler-plate phrasings that are designed to reduce or eliminate the chance for confusion and prevent litigation. But the listing agreement is a legal document, so property sellers should read and understand the terms before signing. Your agent or broker can help explain the agreement to you, but if you require legal counsel consult an attorney. Lawyers, not real estate professionals, provide legal assistance.

Will Nesbitt is the principal broker of Condo Alexandria.
Will Nesbitt is the principal broker of Condo Alexandria.

Will Nesbitt is the principal broker of Condo Alexandria / Nesbitt Realty.


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For more information or to set up an appointment call Nesbitt Realty at (703)765-0300.
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Will Nesbitt

View posts by Will Nesbitt
Will is the principal broker of Nesbitt Realty and Condo Alexandria. He is licensed in anywhere in the Commonwealth of Virginia, but focuses on those communities found in and around Alexandria, Arlington, Mount Vernon and Springfield/Franconia. Will has been involved in real estate management, sales and investment for more than twenty years. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army. While in the army, he studied Russian at Monterey's Defense Language Institute. He is also a "veteran of the dotcom wars" and built most of the sites associated with Will currently resides in Belle Haven Estates just outside Old Town, overlooking New Alexandria. He is a former president of the Mount Vernon Youth Athletic Association and founded the Alexandria Fun with Friends Group. Will is the author of BattlestorM, a tabletop fantasy game, which was published by Ral Partha Publishing in the late '90's, and Arthur's Realm, a boardgame available at the Gamecrafter.