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Real estate brokers and commission: theory and calibrations

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  • Oz Shy
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Abstract

The author constructs a theoretical model to examine the effects of an inherent conflict of interest between a seller of a house and the real estate broker hired by the seller. The model is then used to calibrate the broker's commission rates that would maximize the seller's expected gain. The findings suggest that while the pressure brokers exert on sellers to reduce prices generates faster sales and hence improves social welfare, the usual commission rate of 6 percent exceeds the seller's value-maximizing rate if the sale is handled by a single agent. On the other hand, if several agents (such as the buyer's and seller's brokers and the agencies that employ these realtors) split the commission, then a 6 percent commission rate may be required to motivate the broker to sell at a high price.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its series Working Papers with number 09-8.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:09-8

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Keywords: Housing - Prices;

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  1. Crawford, Vincent P & Sobel, Joel, 1982. "Strategic Information Transmission," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1431-51, November.
  2. Michael A. Arnold, 1992. "The Principal-Agent Relationship in Real Estate Brokerage Services," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 20(1), pages 89-106.
  3. Arnott, R. & Anglin, P., 1995. "Are Brokers' Commission Rates on Home Sales Too High? A Conceptual Analysis," G.R.E.Q.A.M. 95a21, Universite Aix-Marseille III.
  4. David Genesove & Christopher Mayer, . "Loss Aversion and Seller Behavior: Evidence from the Housing Market," Zell/Lurie Center Working Papers 323, Wharton School Samuel Zell and Robert Lurie Real Estate Center, University of Pennsylvania.
  5. Yavas, Abdullah, 1994. "Middlemen in Bilateral Search Markets," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(3), pages 406-29, July.
  6. Biglaiser, Gary & Friedman, James W., 1994. "Middlemen as guarantors of quality," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 509-531, December.
  7. Igal Hendel & Aviv Nevo & François Ortalo-Magné, 2009. "The Relative Performance of Real Estate Marketing Platforms: MLS versus FSBOMadison.com," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 1878-98, December.
  8. John G. Riley, 2001. "Silver Signals: Twenty-Five Years of Screening and Signaling," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(2), pages 432-478, June.
  9. Thomas S. Zorn & James E. Larsen, 1986. "The Incentive Effects of Flat-Fee and Percentage Commissions for Real Estate Brokers," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 14(1), pages 24-47.
  10. Lynn Fisher & Abdullah Yavas, 2010. "A Case for Percentage Commission Contracts: The Impact of a “Race” Among Agents," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 40(1), pages 1-13, January.
  11. Steven D. Levitt & Chad Syverson, 2008. "Market Distortions When Agents Are Better Informed: The Value of Information in Real Estate Transactions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 599-611, November.
  12. Hackett, Steven C., 1993. "Consignment contracting," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 247-253, February.
  13. Gary Biglaiser, 1993. "Middlemen as Experts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(2), pages 212-223, Summer.
  14. Salant, Stephen W, 1991. "For Sale by Owner: When to Use a Broker and How to Price the House," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 157-73, June.
  15. Hackett, Steven C., 1992. "A comparative analysis of merchant and broker intermediation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 299-315, August.
  16. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1991. "Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1039-61, November.
  17. Carroll, Wayne, 1989. "Fixed-Percentage Commissions and Moral Hazard in Residential Real Estate Brokerage," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 2(4), pages 349-65, December.
  18. Knoll, Michael S, 1988. "Uncertainty, Efficiency, and the Brokerage Industry," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages 249-63, April.
  19. Garella, Paolo G, 1989. "Adverse Selection and the Middleman," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 56(223), pages 395-400, August.
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