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The Incentive Effects of Flat-Fee and Percentage Commissions for Real Estate Brokers

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  • Thomas S. Zorn
  • James E. Larsen

Abstract

This paper analyzes the incentive affects of flat-fee and percentage commission systems from the perspective of the economic theory of agency. Under a plausible set of assumptions the systems provide equivalent incentives. However, the relative desirability of the two systems depends upon the pricing strategy employed and factors specific to the individual. In general, neither system perfectly aligns the interests of the agent with those of the property-owner. A surprising result of the analysis is that the optimal listing price when an agent is employed may be below the first-best price. The first-best price, or residual maximizing solution to the principal-agent problem from the perspective of the property-owner, is the solution that would occur if the agent's interests were perfectly aligned with those of the principal. This study suggests that the use of a percentage versus a flat-fee commission may be due to information costs rather than price discrimination on the part of brokers. Copyright American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:reesec:v:14:y:1986:i:1:p:24-47
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Marcus Allen & Sheri Faircloth & Ronald Rutherford, 2005. "The Impact of Range Pricing on Marketing Time and Transaction Price: A Better Mousetrap for the Existing Home Market?," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 31(1), pages 71-82, August.
    2. Timothy E. Jares & James E. Larsen & Thomas S. Zorn, 2000. "An Optimal Incentive System For Real Estate Agents," Journal of Real Estate Research, American Real Estate Society, vol. 20(1), pages 49-59.
    3. Roy T. Black & Hugh O. Nourse, 1995. "The Effect of Different Brokerage Modes on Closing Costs and House Prices," Journal of Real Estate Research, American Real Estate Society, vol. 10(1), pages 87-98.
    4. Thomas Miceli & Katherine Pancak & C. Sirmans, 2007. "Is the Compensation Model for Real Estate Brokers Obsolete?," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 7-22, July.
    5. Fabrice Larceneux & Thomas Lefebvre, 2016. "The " Bad Deal " Illusion," Post-Print halshs-01671084, HAL.
    6. Jonathan Wiley & Leonard Zumpano & Justin Benefield, 2011. "The Limited-Service Brokerage Decision: Theory and Evidence," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 43(3), pages 336-358, October.
    7. Terrence Clauretie & Nasser Daneshvary, 2008. "Principal–Agent Conflict and Broker Effort Near Listing Contract Expiration: The Case of Residential Properties," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 147-161, August.
    8. Xun Bian & Bennie D. Waller & Abdullah Yavas, 2017. "Commission Splits in Real Estate Transactions," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 54(2), pages 165-187, February.
    9. John D. Benjamin & G. Donald Jud & G. Stacy Sirmans, 2000. "Real Estate Brokerage and the Hosting Market: An Annotated Bibliography," Journal of Real Estate Research, American Real Estate Society, vol. 20(1), pages 217-278.
    10. Oz Shy, 2012. "Real Estate Brokers and Commission: Theory and Calibrations," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 45(4), pages 982-1004, November.
    11. 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.
    12. James E. Larsen & Won J. Park, 1989. "Non-Uniform Percentage Brokerage Commissions and Real Estate Market Performance," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 17(4), pages 422-438.
    13. Thomas J. Miceli, 1989. "The Optimal Duration of Real Estate Listing Contracts," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 17(3), pages 267-277.
    14. Biqing Huang & Ronald Rutherford, 2007. "Who You Going to Call? Performance of Realtors and Non-realtors in a MLS Setting," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 77-93, July.
    15. Ford, James Scott & Rutherford, Ronald C. & Yavas, Abdullah, 2005. "The effects of the internet on marketing residential real estate," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 92-108, June.
    16. Bian, Xun & Waller, Bennie D. & Turnbull, Geoffrey K. & Wentland, Scott A., 2015. "How many listings are too many? Agent inventory externalities and the residential housing market," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 130-143.
    17. Ying Li & Abdullah Yavas, 2015. "Residential Brokerage in Hot and Cold Markets," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 51(1), pages 1-21, July.
    18. Vickie L. Bajtelsmit & Elaine Worzala, 1997. "Adversarial Brokerage in Residential Real Estate Transactions: The Impact of Separate Buyer Representation," Journal of Real Estate Research, American Real Estate Society, vol. 14(1), pages 65-76.
    19. Jonathan Wiley & Justin Benefield & Marcus Allen, 2014. "Cyclical Determinants of Brokerage Commission Rates," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 48(1), pages 196-219, January.
    20. Randy Anderson & Raymond Brastow & Geoffrey Turnbull & Bennie Waller, 2014. "Seller Over-Pricing and Listing Contract Length: The Effects of Endogenous Listing Contracts on Housing Markets," The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 49(3), pages 434-450, October.
    21. John D. Benjamin & G. Donald Jud & G. Stacy Sirmans, 2000. "What Do We Know About Real Estate Brokerage?," Journal of Real Estate Research, American Real Estate Society, vol. 20(1), pages 5-30.
    22. Han, Lu & Strange, William C., 2015. "The Microstructure of Housing Markets," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.

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