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Open house listings: a Russian roulette?

Dear Heather,

I am selling my house. What’s the difference between a sole listing and an open listing, and which is best for me?


Dear Seller,

An open listing is when you list your house with one or multiple agents yet still retain the right to sell it yourself.

A sole listing is when you list your property with one experienced agent within a professional agency and let them handle everything for you.

Some sellers believe that an open listing is more beneficial than a sole listing in achieving the sale of a property. The thought process is listing with multiple agents means better exposure and more effort. In actual fact this is not true, let me explain why:

A real estate agent works on commission only and does not earn a salary, so accepting an open listing on a house is a bit like playing Russian roulette; you might be lucky and you might not.

There aren’t many professionals out there who are willing to risk that amount of time, effort, energy, cost and service and not get paid for it.

With this risk, you will NOT get the full spectrum of real estate services, such as marketing and structured activity updates, as an agent cannot fully commit to you unless you fully commit to them.

Imagine if you were employed to do a job for someone, would you provide 100 per cent of your service, time and effort knowing that you may not get paid for it?

Also, listing with multiple agents could potentially be an unpleasant experience for you, the seller, as you do not have a single point of contact and advisory.

Your communication and feedback can get confusing when coming from more than one agent, and your activity tracking is skewed as you will not have one agent keeping track of all activity on your listing.

Lastly, while a seller may perceive their multiple-agent status as a positive, we asked our buyers what they perceived.

We found that the majority of buyers who see multiple property signs listed with multiple agents feel that a seller is “desperate”. Desperation leads to a lower selling price and long time on the market.

Our statistical analysis shows that open listings that have not sold have been on the market for over three years; most of our sole listings sell between three to six months, with some segments of the market taking about a year. Why is this? Because the agent works diligently with the seller on price, property and marketing.

This way, the seller will receive all the professional advice they need in order to get the property sold for the most amount of money in the least amount of time.

A sole listing agreement on the other hand, provides a seller with everything that an open listing agreement does PLUS way more for the same commission and at a much higher level of service.

A sole listing agreement guarantees that the listing agent and her hard work will be rewarded. A sole listing agent will share your property information with all other reputable realtors on your behalf in order to get it sold!

With this in mind, a sole listing agent is going to give you 110 per cent in commitment, service and effort, not only to get that property sold, but to assist a seller every step of the way.

The sale of a property is not an event, it is a process. It is not only about selling your home, but about having someone experienced and professional to hold your hand every step of the way. An agent’s purpose is to make this experience as smooth, easy and stress-free as possible for the seller.

Doing this will include a marketing plan from the initial listing stage in order to be sure the property gets full market exposure, monthly activity updates, your own personal real estate advisor who you can go to with questions/concerns, someone who will bring to you suggestions and market knowledge and implementation and control of the property showing process.

Your sole listing agent may not be the person that sells your home, but they most assuredly will be the reason it sells! Make sure you choose carefully. Your sole listing agent must be someone you trust and must be able to prove that they have the knowledge and expertise to help you navigate the entire transaction; not just the marketing of your home.

•Heather Chilvers is among Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty’s leading sales representatives. She has been working in real estate for 27 years. If you have a question for Heather, please contact her at hchilvers@brcl.bm or 332-1793. All questions will be treated in confidence. Read this article on Facebook: Ask Heather Real Estate