American Property: The Great Realtor Rip-Off

The Economist -- In Britain, if you want to sell your home, an estate agent will list the property, find a buyer, help you negotiate a deal and guide you through the transaction, all for a commission of 2-3% of the sale price. In America, realtors provide the same services for roughly double the fee.

A third theory is that the industry is less competitive than it looks. In most areas a few big brokers handle most transactions. They set high fees, which lure ever more people into the profession: between 1998 and 2005 the number of members of America’s National Association of Realtors grew by 67%. These agents waste time competing with each other for the exclusive right to sell each home, sapping productivity. According to Norm Miller of the University of San Diego, an average agent in Britain closes 40-50 deals a year, compared with just seven in America. (Full Story)

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