In your initial search for a listing agent, you will have conversations with a wide variety of agents before you settle on the one that is best for you and your property. You'll chat about the market at local open houses, ask prospective agents to see comparative market analyses for your home, and maybe even chat with friends or relatives who have their real estate licenses. During this process, you need to be extremely careful about making any kind of oral commitment without signing a formal listing agreement. That written agreement protects your rights and the agent's. It ensures that they won't represent anyone but you in the transaction, and it obligates you to pay them a commission after they close the deal. Without that agreement, sharing too much information about yourself, your home and your financial situation with a prospective agent is a bad idea. If you ultimately don't sign an agreement with that agent, they could circulate information among other agents and prospective buyers, which could compromise your agent's ability to negotiate the best deal.