The Principal-Agent Relationship in Real Estate Brokerage Services
This article investigates the principal-agent relationship between the owner of a house and her real estate broker. The principal's (owner's) problem is to design a contract that induces the agent (broker) to adopt a selling strategy that maximizes the owner's expected return. A sequential search model is utilized to analyze this principal-agent relationship. Three different systems for paying the broker are considered: fixed-percentage commission, flat-fee, and consignment. Both the discount factors of the owner and the broker and the net costs of ownership incurred while attempting to sell the house play a central role in determining the nature of the optimal contract. The analysis demonstrates that the fixed-percentage commission system is the only one of the three systems considered that can induce a first-best, incentive-compatible contract. A numerical analysis provides insights regarding the effect of the fixed-percentage commission system on competition in the real estate brokerage industry. Copyright American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association.
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Volume (Year): 20 (1992)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
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