Okay, okay, that’s not quite the message of a new working paper by Panle Jia Barwick and Parag A. Pathak called “The Costs of Free Entry: An Empirical Study of Real Estate Agents in Greater Boston.” But for those of us who have thought about the Realtor’s role in the housing market, it’s tempting to jump to that conclusion. Here’s the full version of the study, and here’s the abstract:
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This paper studies the real estate brokerage industry in Greater Boston, an industry with low entry barriers and substantial turnover. Using a comprehensive dataset of agents and transactions from 1998-2007, we find that entry does not increase sales probabilities or reduce the time it takes for properties to sell, decreases the market share of experienced agents, and leads to a reduction in average service quality. These empirical patterns motivate an econometric model of the dynamic optimizing behavior of agents that serves as the foundation for simulating counterfactual market structures. A one-half reduction in the commission rate leads to a 73% increase in the number of houses each agent sells and benefits consumers by about $2 billion. House price appreciation in the first half of the 2000s accounts for 24% of overall entry and a 31% decline in the number of houses sold by each agent. Low cost programs that provide information about past agent performance have the potential to increase overall productivity and generate significant social savings.
The recession has apparently put a real dent in the market for islands, The Seattle Times reports. Read More »
Home prices continue to fall, dropping another 18.7 percent in March. The price plunge is being blamed in part on the glut of cheap, foreclosed homes on the market. How cheap are these homes? They’re selling for as much as 31 percent below market value. Of course, deteriorating home prices are a leading driver of mortgage defaults, so more foreclosed homes lead to lower home prices, which lead to more foreclosures. Read More »
By jingo, what a boom it was! So much so that I just noticed a local Philly contractor, perhaps more honest than most, who named his business “Bubble Builders.” In a sign of the times, I haven’t seen a single customer enter over the past few months.
With the housing bubble now truly behind us, you might imagine that Bubble Builders either needs a new name or a new line of business. What would you recommend? Read More »
Newspaper headlines earlier this week reported a dramatic 19 percent decline in housing prices based on the Case-Shiller index of real-estate prices. Stan Humphries, writing on the Zillow blog, notes that Zillow’s price index didn’t fall as much as Case-Shiller. The difference is that Zillow’s index does not include foreclosures, but Case-Shiller does. Humphries notes […] Read More »
Mike, a 30-year-old engineer, writes in with a real-estate dilemma in which he’s considering a tricky tradeoff: is it worth sabotaging his own credit rating in order to walk away from a house that’s worth far less than his mortgage? Already Been Blegged Here’s what Freakonomics readers have been blegging for lately. How to Handicap […] Read More »