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The Economist asks “Why is it so expensive to buy or sell a house in America?”

This is in an article titled “The great realtor rip-off”.

The comparison to estate agents in the UK is especially interesting. They make half the commission and close 3 to 4x transactions.

The article mentions NAR by name and only refers to MLS in passing as ex-cartels:

The business used to operate like a series of local cartels. In a typical area, a handful of brokers controlled a shared database of available homes, and limited their cheaper rivals’ access to those listings. In 2008 in the United States and 2010 in Canada, regulators struck deals with realtors to open up these databases. Yet since then the average commission has actually risen, from 5.0% in 2005 to 5.4% in 2011, according to REAL Trends, a research firm.

“Used to”, huh?

Its a great read as it sums up the state of the industry succinctly and in no uncertain terms, but it could have done a better job of laying the blame at the feet of the MLS concept itself. If there were no MLS/NAR creating $8bn of “economic waste”, it seems to me Bloodhounds would be the brokers and agents left standing, as is apparently the case in UK.
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