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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Three essays in real estate economics Fu, Yuming


This dissertation consists of three separate essays. The first two essays focus on real estate brokerage; one studies the conditions for efficient employment in the real estate brokerage industry under fixed commission rates and the other examines the role of real estate agents in buyer-seller bargaining. The third essay presents an integrated analysis of housing investment and consumption choices that takes into account both the uncertainty in investment returns and liquidity constraints. Essay one presents a model of real estate trading with brokerage that integrates sequential search, two-sided matching, and the competitive entry and effort choice of real estate agents. The equilibrium employment pattern of the model helps to explain the observation that the number of agents is more sensitive to the expected transaction price than to the transaction volume. The condition for efficient employment requires the commission to be proportional to the opportunity cost of search time and the expected trading gain, with the proportion determined by the productivity of brokerage employment. Efficient employment also requires regulating the entry so as to achieve the productivity balance between the number of agents and individual effort. Essay two examines asymmetric information and bargaining within the model of real estate trading developed in essay one. The equilibrium outcomes of bargaining with and without information asymmetry are characterized with the help of mechanism design methodology, and the associated welfare levels are compared. The analysis is applied to evaluating the role of real estate agents in the bargaining. Agents seek compromises between the buyer and seller by providing credible information to both parties. Such a role is welfare improving when the scale economy of brokerage with respect to the stock of buyers and sellers is not strong and brokerage employment is sufficient. In essay three, Pratt's certainty-equivalent approximation is applied to the Henderson-Ioannides (1983) housing tenure choice model. The key trade-offs for housing investment and consumption choices induced by the uncertainty and liquidity constraints are clearly illustrated and the implications for tenure choice examined against the existing empirical evidence.

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