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What Is an Exclusive Right to Sell?

By Alex Newth
Updated Feb 23, 2024
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When a real estate agent is contacted to sell a house or property, he or she will ask the owner to sign an agreement. There are many different types of agreements with real estate agents, but the most common is the exclusive right to sell. This agreement ensures the agent is paid a commission for the property’s sale, and ensures the agent will put his or her full effort toward selling the property. An exclusive right to sell is a legally binding agreement, so the property owner cannot get out of it unless he or she fires the real estate agent.

Of all the agreements real estate agents can have a client sign, the exclusive right to sell is the most common. This is because it gives the agent the exclusive right to sell the house. No other agents can try to sell the property as long as the agreement is valid, and the agent is assured of getting a commission when the sale happens. Even if the property owner sells the property without the agent, the agent must still legally receive the agreed upon commission.

Agreements other than the exclusive right to sell may cost the owner less money in commission, and the owner may be able to get out of paying an agent. Most agents, if they are willing to use other agreements, may not work as hard on selling a property, because there is no guarantee money will be made. Usually when one of these other agreements is signed, the real estate agent will ask for payment upfront to ensure he or she makes money from trying to sell the property.

An exclusive right to sell agreement is legally binding. This means that, if the owner refuses to pay the agent his or her stated commission after a sale, the agent can sue the client for damages and lost wages. There are often other stipulations in the exclusive right to sell agreement, such as an agreement that the seller cannot contact other agents, nor can the seller try to sell the property without the agent specified in the agreement.

If the seller becomes unhappy with the agent and does not feel the agent is worthy of a commission, the seller can back out of the exclusive right to sell. This can only be done before a sale. The seller can fire the agent, which usually severs the agreement. The agreement may offer other ways to sever any connection with the agent and should be read thoroughly by the seller and a lawyer before signing.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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