Six things to consider before signing an open listing

Aug 17, 2023 | by DiJones

Navigating the world of real estate can feel like an overwhelming journey filled with complex decisions. One such choice that often bewilders homeowners is the option of an open listing. 

Open listings offer the flexibility to engage multiple agents or even sell the property independently, and their non-exclusive nature can appear convenient. However, the allure often masks a series of drawbacks that could result in a less-than-satisfactory selling experience. 

Here, we shine a light on the potential pitfalls of open listings and discuss the advantages of more protective and effective selling strategies.

What is an open listing?

An open listing, in simple terms, is an agreement that grants real estate agents the non-exclusive right to sell a property. This means that several agents can try to sell your property at the same time. Whichever agent brings in the eventual buyer is the one who will earn the associated commission. Although this seems to promise broader exposure and competitive agent strategies at first glance, there are substantial risks in key areas that homeowners should consider before committing to an open listing.

1. Agent commitment

Agents work hard to sell a property, expending serious time, money and effort to ensure the best results for their clients. However, if the listing is not exclusive, they are not guaranteed a commission and may not be able to prioritise your property. This could lead to less time and fewer resources being directed towards promoting your sale, and with several agents listing your home, you will end up with a fragmented campaign that is likely to miss your target audience and significantly weaken your chance of securing an ideal sale.

2. Marketing efforts

Effective marketing is key to ensuring a property appeals to a wide number of potential buyers. Unfortunately, open listings can lead to diluted marketing efforts as agents may hesitate to invest heavily in a campaign, given they have no guarantee of a return. Weaker campaigns translate into limited exposure, fewer showings, and, ultimately, a smaller pool of potential buyers for your property. Less buyer interest generally means a lower sale price. 

3. Pricing inconsistencies

Pricing the property can become a point of contention when it comes to an open listing. Each agent will have their own opinion of the property’s value, and as the vendor, you will have little or no say in setting the price. Additionally, some agents might propose unrealistic prices to secure a fast sale, while others might inflate the price, hoping for a larger commission. Such inconsistency is likely to create confusion among potential buyers and, ultimately, hinder a successful sale.

4. Loss of control and privacy

By allowing multiple competing agents to market your property, you could lose control of certain aspects of the selling process, and your privacy could be compromised in the rush to find a buyer.

Inspections may not be carefully coordinated, and potential buyers may not be properly screened, leading to an “all and sundry” approach that could have unintended consequences. 

Because you don’t build up an exclusive relationship with one agent, it can be hard to keep tabs on how your private information is being used, and inadvertent leaks can seriously affect your negotiating position, significantly diminishing the potential for a great sale.

5. Compromised negotiation power

When they see several agents marketing a single property, buyers often take it that the property is difficult to sell or that the vendors are desperate. This perception can lessen the appeal of the home and weaken the vendor’s position considerably, leading to lower offers or less favourable terms of sale.


6. Potential legal challenges

The lack of exclusivity in open listings could lead to messy legal issues, particularly when it comes to commission disputes between agents. Having a clear and enforceable agreement is crucial to steer clear of legal challenges down the line.


The alternative to an open listing

Given these potential drawbacks, many vendors prefer exclusive agency listings, especially in a complicated market where a strong commitment from a dedicated agent can make a huge difference. 

Exclusivity incentivises agents to prioritise your property, invest their time and effort into creating focused marketing campaigns and do their utmost to achieve the best results for you.

So, while open listings may seem appealing in some circumstances, it’s important to consider the associated risks and drawbacks. Commitment, clarity, consistency and focus are all key to ensuring an optimum sale, but they are often the first things to disappear with an open listing. 

By choosing to work exclusively with a reliable, dedicated agent, you will receive invaluable guidance, expertise and unwavering support throughout the selling process, ensuring a smooth, successful transaction with the best possible results.

Other buying, selling and investing articles and resources 

Guide to property investment success in NSW

Selling a house or apartment in NSW eBook

Buying a house or apartment in NSW eBook

Property investment in NSW FAQ’s

What is a property cycle and what drives a change? 

DiJones Real Estate, together with their directors, officers, employees and agents have used their best endeavours to ensure the information passed on in this document is accurate. However, you must make your own enquiries in relation to the information contained in this document and seek advice from your financial advisor, broker or accountant to ascertain its application to your circumstances.

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