Expired Listing vs. Withdrawn Listing: What’s the Difference?

For sellers, knowing what distinguishes a withdrawn listing from an expired listing can be confusing. Both clearly indicate that your listing is not active online. But, more specifically, what do these real estate terms actually say about the status of your property? The biggest difference between “withdrawn” and “expired” has to do with your listing contract and whether or not you’re still obligated to work with your listing agent.

What is a listing contract?

When you put your home on the market, you list it on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Signing a listing contract with an agent to sell your home gives the agent the authority to list your property on the MLS, which all real estate agents have access to. The MLS is also aggregated by listing websites like realtor.com.

Putting a listing on the MLS is one of the ways real estate agents advertise properties that are available for purchase. It signals to buyer’s agents that they can make inquiries about a property on behalf of purchasers.

The contract you sign allows your listing agent exclusive rights to try to sell your property for the period of time outlined in the legal paperwork—typically six months to a year, says Beth Bernitt, a real estate agent with Century 21 Country Realty in Monticello, NY.

Difference between a withdrawn listing and an expired listing

A withdrawn listing may still be listed for sale with a real estate agent, but it’s no longer listed on the MLS. Withdrawal doesn’t sever the ties between a seller and the agent, because the contract between them is still in place.

During the period that the listing is withdrawn from the market, the clock is still ticking on the original listing contract, pushing toward the expiration date, Bernitt says. But sellers can’t be approached by another real estate agent to represent them, nor can they sell the house straight to a potential buyer.

Properties are withdrawn for a number of reasons. Sometimes a seller has a family situation that needs to be resolved or a repair that needs to be made before the house can be sold.

An expired listing is a property that has not sold by the end of the period stipulated in the listing contract between the seller and the listing agent.

When a listing hits its expiration date, the sellers have the option to stay on with their current agent and list it again or go with a new agency without incurring any penalties for changing representation.

Whether you stick with your current agent or hire someone new, the property will have to be relisted again, creating a new listing on the MLS. “There’s no such thing as an automatically renewed listing,” Bernitt says. “It has to be redone in writing. You can have a verbal agreement, but an agent can’t just relist on you, and it really should be in writing.”

That said, if a property is already under contract when a listing expires, a sale may be in the process of closing soon. In that case, you are legally bound to stick with your listing agent and allow that agent to complete the sale. Don’t try to skirt the fees your selling agent stands to collect at closing by reaching out to the buyer’s agent to complete the transaction—it’s just shady.

If you aren’t sure of the status of your listing, whether active, expired, or withdrawn, take a look at your listing agreement and talk to your real estate agent.