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No Listing, No Sign, No Sale, No Service

By Janet R. Thoren
Deputy Legal Counsel


Q:  The owner of a commercial subdivision has asked me to place my “for sale” sign at the entrance. Can I do so, even though I do not have a written listing agreement with him?

A:  No. Advertising another’s property for sale or rent requires not only permission of the owner but also a written agreement outlining the services you will provide.

Q:  I have a written listing agreement but it has expired. Nevertheless, the owner tells me I can leave my sign up and she will pay me a commission if the property is sold through me. Can I continue to offer the property for sale under this arrangement?

A:  No. Although the owner has verbally permitted you to continue to advertise and offer the property for sale, you may not do so without a valid written agreement for brokerage services with the owner.

Q:  I realize that I cannot offer property for sale without a written agency agreement. But can I offer it for rent?

A:  No. Since September 1, 2002, Commission rules now require brokers to have written agreements for brokerage services before they can offer property for rent.

Q:  I received a letter from a property owner that states “I give you and your firm permission to place a sign on my property and advertise it for sale. Although I do not know if I am ready to sell, if you want to work on it for me, go ahead and I’ll look at any offers you bring.” Based upon this letter, can I proceed in offering to sell the property?

A:  No. Although the letter gives you the owner’s permission to conduct brokerage services on his behalf, it does not contain the following elements required by Commission rule: A definite time period for the agency agreement, termination without prior notice at the expiration of the period, and specific non-discrimination language.

Q:  Is there a standard listing agreement that I must use?

A:  Although standard listing forms are available, many brokers are now offering limited services to sellers which are not contemplated by these forms. However, you are reminded that the agreement you use must be in writing and comply with Commission rules. It is also prudent to include in the agreement terms governing the fee you expect for your services and when the fee is earned.

This article came from the February 2003-Vol33-3 edition of the bulletin.