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How should you handle your home's listing agent?

Listing agents are helpful when it comes to selling your property; they take care of advertising, showing the house, screening potential buyers and negotiating. Agents have a fiduciary duty to represent only your interests, but there are still certain tactics to take into consideration when working with an agent.

For starters, before you sign an agreement with an agent, you'll probably talk to a couple prospective representatives. During the process, you need to be extra careful not to create any oral agreements that will end up binding you to an agent before you're ready to choose. A formal written agreement protects everyone's rights, but an oral one may not. Once you've chosen an agent, make sure not to be too rigid on your price. If the agent thinks you're being unrealistic, he may not want to represent you. And if you're asking too much, the house will stay on the market longer and your eventual sales price will be lower. Listen to your agent's advice about a realistic sales price. Also, make sure your agent knows that you want to hear about every offer he receives, no matter what it is. Otherwise, your agent might not tell you about the lower ones and he'll hold out for a higher one so that he gets a bigger commission.

You should avoid letting your agent think you're desperate to sell, which means you're better off withholding information like an impending divorce, recent unemployment and serious illness. If an agent thinks you're too eager, or if he relays that impression to potential buyers, you'll end up with a lower sale price. Also, don't tell your agent that you have plenty of time to sell; if you do, he may put your property on the back burner and you'll end up missing your chance for a competitively priced sale.