What Is an Open Listing in Real Estate?

An open listing means that a homeowner has agreed to allow one or more brokers to list their property on a non-exclusive basis. In other words, no single agent has the exclusive right to advertise the property and earn a commission.

This means that a broker will only be able to collect a commission under an open listing arrangement if he or she procures the buyer or tenant.  Moreover, an owner can always find their own buyer and not owe any commission.

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How Is an Open Listing Different From an Exclusive Listing?

An exclusive listing means that only one broker is authorized to advertise property for sale or rent during the term of the listing agreement. Unlike with an open listing, this means no other agent is allowed to simultaneously market the property while the exclusive listing agreement remains in effect.

There are actually two common variants of exclusive listings:

  • Exclusive Right to Sell or Rent Listing

  • Exclusive Agency Listing

Exclusive Right to Sell or Rent Listing

An exclusive right to sell is the most common type of sale listing.  In an exclusive right to sell listing, the listing broker is the only one who can list and market the property. The listing agent is entitled to collect a collect commission if the property sells regardless of who finds the buyer or tenant.

If the buyer is represented by a broker, the listing broker will typically split the commission with the buyer’s broker.

Exclusive Agency Listing

This type of listing agreement is less common. In an exclusive agency listing, the listing broker is still the only person who can list and market the property. However, if the owner finds a buyer or tenant by themselves, they do not owe any commission to the listing broker.

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Are Open Listings Common for Rentals?

Open listings are much more common for rentals vs. sales. This is especially so when it comes to large, landlord buildings in NYC.

These landlord buildings are essentially entire apartment buildings that are owned by one landlord, and where all or almost all of the units are rentals.

While many individually owned condo and co-op apartments will still be listed exclusively by a single broker, most large rental buildings will not have an exclusive listing agent.

An open listing is a property listing where the owner has not agreed to exclusively list with any broker, but has agreed to allow brokers to list their property on a non-exclusive basis.

This is because these landlords are institutional in nature, and have a history of paying commission to brokers for bringing renters. As a result, they don’t need a broker to list it on their behalf in the REBNY RLS, because doing so essentially provides credibility.

Furthermore, many of the building landlords don’t want to bother with marketing their own properties, and the associated expenses with doing so. For example, StreetEasy charges a hefty daily fee for rental listings, and this can really add up if you’re marketing many apartments at the same time. And that’s just one website!

However, real estate agents are often more than happy to market open listings because it’s a way of generating leads, even if it costs them money to advertise the landlord building apartments on various websites.

Are Open Listings Common for Sales?

Open listings are very rare in the residential sales market, primarily because most MLS broker databases and even many public websites won’t allow anything but exclusive sales listings.

As a result, buyers typically have an easier time navigating the sales market because there is only one agent listing each property, which results in far less confusion vs the rental market.

For example in NYC, REBNY only allows exclusive sales listings to be uploaded to the REBNY RLS broker database. Furthermore, public search websites like StreetEasy will only accept exclusive sale listings, and will sometimes ask brokers for proof of exclusivity. As a result, virtually every residential sales listing in NYC is an exclusive listing.

Can I Sell FSBO in NYC and Access the RLS Through an Open Listing?

No. As clever as the idea of using a broker to access the RLS through an open listing may sound, it’s simply not allowed.

The REBNY RLS specifically prohibits non-exclusive sales listings to be uploaded to the broker database, and any broker who surreptitiously uploads an open listing can suffer fines and other penalties.

Furthermore, many MLS systems such as the Hudson Valley’s HGMLS will require the listing broker to upload the actual signed listing agreement for review by the MLS staff.

Open listing vs exclusive listing. What is an open listing in real estate? Can you sell FSBO via an open listing? Are open listings common for sales & more.

As a result, it’d be impossible to get around certain MLS systems because of the necessity of providing proof of exclusivity.

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How Can I List FSBO on the RLS Without Paying 6%?

You don’t need to pay 6% in commission and sign an onerous exclusive right to sell listing agreement in order to list on the local MLS (the RLS in NYC) as a seller in New York City.

Nor do you need to convince a broker to secretly upload an open listing onto the broker database and potentially incur fines and penalties.

Instead, you can sign up for an Agent Assisted FSBO listing through Hauseit. We list your home on the RLS, the OneKey MLS and numerous consumer facing real estate website all at once for small flat fee payable upon closing.

Even though you’ll have to sign what is technically an exclusive right to sell listing agreement, this flat fee listing agreement is heavily modified in your favor as the seller. For example, you may cancel the agreement and de-list your property, or list with another broker, at any time. Therefore, the exclusivity is rather meaningless since you can cancel whenever you desire.

Furthermore, you’ll still have full control of your listing and can submit listing updates at no charge. And you’re free to manage inquiries as they come in, all of which are relayed to you automatically.

Sample Open Listing Agreement

Here is a sample open listing agreement:

This open listing agreement (“Agreement”) is made on the first date below by and between:

New York Brokerage LLC with a mailing address of 123 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10044 (hereinafter “Broker”), and John Smith with a mailing address of 123 Houston Street, New York, NY 10012 (hereinafter “Owner”).


Address: 123 Houston Street, New York, NY 10012

Listing Price: $775,000

Owner’s Authorization

Owner agrees to list the Property with Broker for a period of 30 days, from date hereof.


Owner agrees to pay Broker a commission of ______ percent (__%) of the sale price should Broker find a purchaser ready, willing, and able to pay at least the Listing Price for the property or such other sum as may be accepted by Owner. Said commissions are only payable upon closing.


The Owner retains the right to sell the property directly on his or her own behalf with no commission to Broker, so long as the Broker did not find the purchaser. The Owner further has the right to list the property with other brokers. If a sale is made within 3 months after this agreement terminates to parties found by the Broker during the term of this agreement, and the buyer has been disclosed to Owner, Owner shall pay the commission specified above.

Forfeit of Deposit

If a deposit of money is forfeited by a purchaser produced by Broker, 30% of the deposit shall be retained by Broker, and the other half of the deposit shall be paid to the Owner.

Owner’s Signature and Date:
Broker’s Signature and Date:

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Disclosure: Hauseit® and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. No representation, guarantee or warranty of any kind is made regarding the completeness or accuracy of information provided.

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