Broker use and the cost of liquidity in commercial real estate investment

David Scofield*, Steven Devaney

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose: Commercial real estate is a highly specific asset: heterogeneous, indivisible and with less information transparency than most other commonly held investment assets. These attributes encourage the use of intermediaries during asset acquisition and disposal. However, there are few attempts to explain the use of different brokerage models (with differing costs) in different markets. This study aims to address this gap. Design/methodology/approach: The study analyses 9,338 real estate transactions in London and New York City from 2001 to 2011. Data are provided by Real Capital Analytics and cover over $450 billion of investments in this period. Brokerage trends in the two cities are compared and probit regressions are used to test whether the decision to transact with broker representation varies with investor or asset characteristics. Findings: Results indicate greater use of brokerage in London, especially by purchasers. This persists when data are disaggregated by sector, time or investor type, pointing to the role of local market culture and institutions in shaping brokerage models and transaction costs. Within each city, the nature of the investors involved seems to be a more significant influence on broker use than the characteristics of the assets being traded. Originality/value: Brokerage costs are the single largest non-tax charge to an investor when trading commercial real estate, yet there is little research in this area. This study examines the role of brokers and provides empirical evidence on factors that influence the use and mode of brokerage in two major investment destinations.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)279-302
    Number of pages24
    JournalJournal of European Real Estate Research
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2013


    • brokerage
    • international comparative
    • liquidity
    • transaction costs


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