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Fee Setting Intermediaries: On Real Estate Agents, Stock Brokers, and Auction Houses

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  • Simon Loertscher
  • Andras Niedermayer

Abstract

Mechanisms where intermediaries charge a commission fee and have the sellers set the price are widely used in practice e.g. by real estate agents, stock brokers, art galleries, or auction houses. We model competition between intermediaries in a dynamic random matching model, where in every period a buyer, a seller, and an intermediary are randomly matched. In any period, every intermediary has a temporary monopoly and designs an exchange mechanism that maximizes his own expected profits. Traders’ valuations for the indivisible good depend on their option value of future trade. The following results obtain. First, we show that the intermediary can achieve the highest possible profit with a fee setting mechanism. Second, we characterize when these fees are linear. Third, fee setting is an equilibrium outcome in a dynamic market. Fourth, when the rematching probability increases or, equivalently, the period length decreases, the equilibrium fees become smaller. Our model is applicable to stock brokers and auction houses as intermediaries. It can further explain several of the stylized facts observed in real estate brokerage, such as the 6 percent fee, the relation between listing price and time on market, inefficient free entry, higher prices for houses owned by brokers, and home owners who bought during a boom asking higher prices. We also provide various extensions.

Suggested Citation

  • Simon Loertscher & Andras Niedermayer, 2008. "Fee Setting Intermediaries: On Real Estate Agents, Stock Brokers, and Auction Houses," Discussion Papers 1472, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:nwu:cmsems:1472
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    Cited by:

    1. Gautier, Pieter A. & Hu, Bo & Watanabe, Makoto, 2016. "Marketmaking Middlemen," IZA Discussion Papers 10152, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Loertscher, Simon & Niedermayer, Andras, 2012. "Assessing the Performance of Simple Contracts Empirically: The Case of Percentage Fees," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 435, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
    3. Bar-Isaac, Heski & Gavazza, Alessandro, 2015. "Brokers’ contractual arrangements in the Manhattan residential rental market," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, pages 73-82.
    4. Niedermayer, Andras & Shneyerov, Artyom, 2013. "For-Profit Search Platforms," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 436, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
    5. Zhu Wang & Julian Wright, 2012. "Ad-valorem platform fees and efficient price discrimination," Working Paper 12-08, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
    6. Simon Board & Andrzej Skrzypacz, 2016. "Revenue Management with Forward-Looking Buyers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1046-1087.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    brokers; applied mechanism design; linear commission fees; optimal indirect mechanisms; internet auctions; auction houses.;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets

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