Do all title holders need to sign the listing agreement?

QUESTION: We have a client who would like our firm to list her house. The title has her name and another person’s name.  The client is telling us that this other person doesn’t even know he is on the title.  She put him on the title years ago in case something happened to her.  Now she wants to list the house. We recommended that she gain clear title before she does this, however, she insists on listing now and said if she sells, it won’t be a problem to get this person to sign off on the deed – she doesn’t want to address the title issue prior to listing or selling. Do we need this other title holder to sign the listing agreement?

ANSWER: Yes. Listing agents should have everyone sign the listing agreement who will later need to sign a deed conveying “fee simple marketable and insurable title” to the listed property. A person whose name is on the deed would almost certainly fall into this category.

Paragraph 12 of the Exclusive Right to Sell Listing Agreement (Standard Form 101) is entitled “Seller Representations.” In paragraph 12(e), the Seller is required to make a representation regarding ownership of the Property. If there is more than one owner, a representation regarding ownership would not be accurate unless the listing agreement names all title holders as “Seller,” and all such title holders sign the agreement.

The Guidelines for completing Form 101 (Standard Form 101G) recognize the requirement that all title holders sign the listing agreement. The last paragraph of those Guidelines includes the following instruction regarding signatures: “All parties with an ownership interest must be named and sign as ‘Seller’.”

The Real Estate Commission has provided similar guidance. In its online Real Estate Manual, the Manual’s authors state: “It is important that the listing agent obtain a copy of seller’s deed and verify the seller’s legal interest… The deed also will indicate all the owners, thus the deed identifies who must sign the listing contract (and subsequently the sales contract).”

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