Here’s an interesting abstract from the excellent Brookings-AEI joint centre on regulation suggesting that if real estate markets were regulated nationally to provide transparent listings, the real estate market – and in particular the market in real estate agents would be much more efficient. Then again the market in real estate agents in America seems amazingly costly adding around 5% to the cost of buying a house in the US. As the abstract points out, the apparatus for trading real estate has self government, whereas they gave that up for federal regulation in securities trading after the second world war.
Funny market that US. All sorts of things come with special deals for incumbent suppliers (try taking a taxi across a couple of counties in New York) whereas other things are very efficient.)