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When is Seller Price Setting with Linear Fees Optimal for Intermediaries?

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  • Simon Loertscher
  • Andras Niedermayer

Abstract

Mechanisms where sellers set the price and are charged a linear commission fee are widely used by real world intermediaries, e.g. by real estate brokers. Empiri- cally these commission fees exhibit very little variance, both across heterogeneous regional markets and over time. So far, there is no theoretical explanation why such seller price setting mechanisms are used and why the linear fees vary so little. In this paper, we first show that in a Bayesian setup seller price setting with linear fees is revenue equivalent to the intermediary optimal direct mechanism derived by Myerson and Satterthwaite (1983) if and only if the seller’s cost is drawn from a generalized power distribution. Whenever such a mechanism is optimal, the fee structure is independent of the distribution from which the buyer’s valuation is drawn. Second, we derive the intermediary optimal direct mechanism when there are many buyers and possibly many sellers and we show that with one seller any standard auction with linear fees and reserve price setting by the seller (which are used e.g. by eBay) implements this mechanism if the seller’s cost is drawn from a power distribution and if buyers’ valuations are identically distributed. Third, we show that when the number of buyers approaches infinity while there is still one seller, seller price setting and price setting by the intermediary are equivalent, intermediary optimal mechanisms.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The University of Melbourne in its series Department of Economics - Working Papers Series with number 1014.

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Length: 18 pages
Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mlb:wpaper:1014

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Keywords: Brokers; linear commission fees; optimal indirect mechanisms;

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References

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  1. Roger B. Myerson & Mark A. Satterthwaite, 1981. "Efficient Mechanisms for Bilateral Trading," Discussion Papers 469S, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  2. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Enrico Moretti, 2003. "Can Free Entry Be Inefficient? Fixed Commissions and Social Waste in the Real Estate Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(5), pages 1076-1122, October.
  3. Francois Ortalo-Magne & Aviv Nevo & Igal Hendel, 2007. "The Relative Performance of Real Estate Marketing Platforms: MLS versus FSBOMadison.com," 2007 Meeting Papers 89, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. 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.
  5. John Rust & George Hall, 2001. "Middle Men Versus Market Makers: A Theory of Competitive Exchange," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1299, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  6. Rutherford, R.C. & Springer, T.M. & Yavas, A., 2005. "Conflicts between principals and agents: evidence from residential brokerage," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 627-665, June.
  7. Sandeep Baliga & Rakesh Vohra, 2010. "Market Research and Market Design," Levine's Working Paper Archive 506439000000000336, David K. Levine.
  8. Yavas, Abdullah, 1992. "Marketmakers versus matchmakers," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 33-58, March.
  9. repec:rus:hseeco:72158 is not listed on IDEAS
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