Wednesday, March 15, 2006

How well do Limited Services Brokerages Perform?

How does limited service representation affect a property's time on the market and selling price? Recent research sponsored by the Texas Real Estate Center revealed that limited service representation can indeed have significant negative impacts.

Limited service representation and discount brokerages in single-family residential markets have been widely scrutinized by the real estate industry. The Internet portal Yahoo! moved from the sixth most visited real estate website to second (behind realtor.com) through its series of partnerships with limited service and discount brokerages. Some of these brokerages offer consumers menu-based pricing, with fees for specific services, such as listing the property on a MLS system, rather than an across-the-board fee for full representation. Others advertise sharply lower commissions while still promising to provide consumers with all of the traditional services.

Limited Service Research Results

Most of the study results were statistically significant, indicating valid relationships exist between limited service representation and marketing performance (time to sale and sales price). The empirical results show that limited service listings sold for 1.7 percent less than typical exclusive-right-to-sell listings and took 17.1 percent longer to sell. Given that the typical discount offered by limited service brokers is approximately 2 percent, there does not appear to be any net gain to sellers using limited service representation.

For example, if the limited service broker charges a total 4 percent commission, then the commission plus the 1.7 percent lower price is approximately equivalent to a 6 percent commission from the seller’s perspective. This would indicate that limited service brokerage offers no dollar advantages to the seller over typical brokerage when using the exclusive right to sell contract.

If "time on maket" is taken into consideration as well, then limited service brokerages could actually COST the seller depending on the fixed costs of carrying the property on the market (mortgage, maintenance, etc...).

But what about agent experience?

Other research has shown that agents associated with limited service brokerages, either no service or menu-based-pricing, tend to be less experienced than those with traditional brokerages. The Texas Real Estate Center study revealed that sellers using listing agents with less than two years of experience received 1.1 percent less for a house compared with sellers who used agents with two to five years of experience, and the marketing time was 1.9 percent longer. While 1.1 percent may not seem to be a large amount, it represented more than $1,900 for the average property in the study. If the listing agent had more than five years of experience, the seller received 0.8 percent more than sellers who used agents with two to five years of experience, and the property sold 1.5 percent faster.

Source: Texas Real Estate Center

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