real-estate brokers


PHOTO: Selling a house in the United States is extremely expensive

The past decade has not been great for middlemen, who match buyers and sellers for a slice of the transaction value. Travel agents have had their margins crushed by flight-search and hotel-booking websites. Stockbrokers have been squeezed out by whizzy algorithms that carry out transactions for a fraction of the cost. Taxi dispatchers have been replaced by Uber and Lyft.

There is an exception, however. Even though there are plenty of sites, like Zillow and Redfin, which offer home-buyers in America the chance to search for properties, commission rates for real-estate brokers (estate agents in Britain) have not fallen much, staying close to 6% (3% for the buyer’s agent, 3% for the seller’s). Americans pay twice as much as people in most other developed markets, where similar sites have done much to depress residential-property transaction fees (see chart).



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