A Homeowner's Dilemma: Anchoring in Residential Real Estate Transactions
32 Pages Posted: 3 Jul 2011 Last revised: 11 Jul 2013
Date Written: April 19, 2011
We examine whether, and how, listing strategies impact sale prices in residential home sales. Literatures in housing economics, negotiations, and auctions offer diverse predictions around this question. On the one hand, housing studies typically treat home prices as an objective function of property and neighborhood characteristics. Yet, the large and robust literature on anchoring effects (Tversky and Kahneman, 1974) suggests a positive relationship between listing prices and sale prices. Finally, evidence from the auctions literature suggests the opposite pattern through herding behaviors. We analyzed more than 14,000 transactions, taking into account observable property heterogeneity, geographical location and timing of the sales. We find that higher starting prices are indeed associated with higher selling prices, consistent with anchoring. For the average home in our sample, over-pricing between 10 and 20% leads to an increase in the sale price of $117-$163. This effect is particularly strong in areas with higher rates of mortgage foreclosure or serious delinquency. Additional analyses show that our results are unlikely to be driven by seller motivations or unobserved home qualities. We contrast our findings with recommendations and private beliefs of real estate agents, who provide services and advice for about 90% of home sales in the US.
Keywords: Anchoring, Behavioral economics, Housing, Listing prices
JEL Classification: D03, D12, D81, D83, Y80
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation