A new study scheduled to be published by the Journal of Housing Economics found that agents who take on too many listings sell them for about 3 percent less and it takes 129 percent longer to sell than agents with modest listing inventories.
The study looked at whether agents have an incentive to take on too many listings—at least from the point of view of their clients. Additional listings may represent additional broker commissions, but they also place greater claims on the broker’s time and energy, which in turn can have adverse sales performance consequences for their clients.
The dilution of agent effort and agency costs by very large numbers of listings adversely affects home prices and liquidity, concluded the study by economists Xun Bian, Bennie D. Waller, Geoffrey K. Turnbull, Scott A. Wentland.
‘It is clear from the results that there is a relationship between agent inventory and sales outcomes that sellers care most about: selling price and time on market. Greater agent inventory is associated with a slightly lower price and a significantly higher time on market,” wrote the authors.
While the adverse impact on price is modest, the effect of agent inventory on liquidity is substantial, the study found. The study found that adding 9 additional listings increases time on market by14%. A richer inventory measure taking into account distance-weighted overlapping listings yields a 26% effect on liquidity.
The study also compared sales of agent-owned homes versus homes owned by clients and found that agents generally sell their homes for approximately 1.6% more than client properties. Inventory competition increases the time on market by 26% for clients, but only 12% for agents. In sum, agent-owned homes still take longer to sell with additional inventory but not as long as client properties. This supports the theory that the inventory effect is driven primarily by agent incentives.
If the listing agent representing a seller has a very high number of other listings (i.e., 15+), that home generally sells for approximately 3% less and remains on the market for 129% longer than a home listed with an agent with a more modest inventory (i.e., 2 to 7 listings).
“Agents representing 15 or more listings may be trying to represent “too many” clients at one time, resulting in a substantially longer marketing duration and an important source of illiquidity for numerous homes in this market,” the study concluded.