What sort of questions should I ask before I sign a listing agreement? Part 2

As I mentioned last week, a listing agreement is a binding legal agreement that commits you to working exclusively with a real estate brokerage for an established period of time when you’re in the market to sell your home. Entering into a listing agreement is a serious commitment, so I strongly recommend that you read it and ask your salesperson a few key questions to make sure you understand the contents before you sign on the dotted line.

How often will you keep me apprised of your progress, and how will we communicate?
Some clients expect regular progress reports from their salesperson; others only want to hear from them when they have some news to share, such as an upcoming showing or an offer. When you interview potential candidates, it’s important that you’re clear and upfront about your expectations, and how you wish to hear from them: telephone calls, emails, instant messaging, or face-to-face meetings.

How do you plan to market my home?
Many sellers are happy when their representative takes the traditional approach to selling real estate: listing the home online (on the MLS® or elsewhere), erecting a sign on the front lawn, and showing it to interested buyers by appointment.

Other sellers, however, may expect their salesperson to augment those efforts by taking out print ads in newspapers and magazines, advertising on social media, hosting a series of open house events, and even hiring third party professionals for an elaborate home staging. Your salesperson should be able to recommend a good staging expert, as well as other qualified and experienced professionals such as home inspectors, contractors, appraisers, and mortgage brokers.

Should you decide you want more of an elaborate marketing campaign, make sure it’s clear in the listing agreement who will pay for any extra services: you, or the brokerage. Depending on the terms of the agreement, you may be agreeing to pay for a professional photo shoot, or staging even if your home doesn’t sell.

If your representative is enthusiastic about hosting an open house, take a few minutes to ask them how they will run the event, and discuss safety protocols. The decision to open your home to the public is entirely yours, so make sure your salesperson explains the pros and cons.

How much money will I have to pay after my house sells?
Your salesperson should be able to give you a detailed list and estimates of closing costs such as commissions, insurance, and moving expenses, to name a few. Your lawyer can provide estimates for legal fees and disbursements.

If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email askjoe@reco.on.ca.

Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.

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