Main Content

Home » Co-Listings


ask phyllis a real estate question

Ask Phyllis: a blog series of frequently asked real estate questions. Email us here


Dear Phyllis,

I find your column very interesting and believe I have a new topic for you. My aunt and now my uncle have passed. They didn’t have children and therefore, I am the trustee for their estate. Their home is in Eagle Rock and I want to list with a local Realtor®. My sister-in-law is a Realtor® in Santa Barbara and wants to co-list the Eagle Rock house with the local real estate agent that we hire. She can then insure all of the paperwork is properly handled and earn half of the commission. On the advice of the trust attorney, I interviewed two local Realtors® that he recommended. However, neither will agree to co-list the property with her. As a result, I am not sure what I should do next, and hope you can offer some advice.


Dear Perplexed,

Most trust attorneys that I work with require that they approve all listing and escrow contracts prior to the trustee signing anything. To sum up, my understanding is that your attorney recommended two local real estate agents experienced in trust sales. If this is the case, I don’t know why you would need a Realtor® from Santa Barbara overseeing paperwork.

It will be the local real estate agent that you hire who has relationships with other real estate agents and lenders in the community. The real estate market in Santa Barbara is different from our local market. I don’t know what value your sister-in-law will add that would warrant her to receive half of the real estate commission.

I am assuming your local agent will be the one helping prepare the home for sale, holding open houses and broker caravans. And likely managing advertising, meeting the photographer, measurer and appraiser once in escrow. In addition, the local Realtor® will be the one listing the home in the multiple listing service. Receiving and responding to inquiries about the home.

Trustees have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the trust. Hiring the most qualified real estate agent is in the trust’s best interest. I am certain that if you keep searching you will find a less experienced real estate agent to do most of the work for half of the commission.

You might consider asking the local Realtors® if as a courtesy, they would agree to pay your sister-in-law a referral fee. Typically, 20-25% of their listing commission. Best of luck on your sale.

You might enjoy: Appraisal Drama

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *