Current Research


Whether your audience are, consumers, industry professionals, or policy makers, Dr. Waller can help you make sense of emerging market shifts, trends and technology in the residential real estate markets.

Below are select current projects… please see CV for a complete lists of publications and working papers.

Sex and Selling: Real Estate Agent Gender, Bargaining, House Price and Liquidity. Duong Pham, Geoffrey K. Turnbull and Bennie D. Waller. Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics,

This paper offers a search model with Nash bargaining to identify various channels through which agent gender affects selling price and selling time in the resale market for houses. The theory is used in conjunction with the empirical model to infer agent bargaining power when dealing with the same or opposite sex agents on the other side of the transaction. The results reveal that the bargaining power of agents depends on their sex and that of the agent on the other side of the transaction, but it also depends on housing market conditions. Female agents assisting buyers have stronger bargaining power when facing female listing agents than when facing male agents in rising or falling markets. The bargaining power of male selling agents assisting buyers is stronger when facing female listing agents than when facing male agents in the rising market, but it is invariant with respect to listing agent sex in the declining market.

Neighborhood Sorting Dynamics in Real Estate: Evidence from the Virginia Sex Offender Registry Bian, R. Brastow, M. Stoll, and S. Wentland (chapter in an edited volume on hedonic valuation)

 Temporally Dynamic Externalities and Real Estate Liquidity, Ray Brastow, Bennie D. Waller and Scott Wentland. Journal of Real Estate Research, 2018, 40:2, 199-240 

In this paper, we reexamine a known disamenity to glean new insights into neighborhood spillovers. Employing a survival analysis and a difference-in-difference framework, we find that registered sex offenders have a large adverse impact on nearby home liquidity on average; and, this effect is largely driven by ‘‘surprises’’ of their moving in or out during the marketing period of nearby homes. However, for homes near offenders who reside nearby through the entire marketing period, sellers tend to steeply discount the initial list price and may actually sell their homes more quickly. These cases ultimately lead to lower sale prices for nearby properties on average, while the sale price effects are nosier for the surprise or temporally dynamic cases, providing initial evidence that more dynamic externalities manifest primarily in the liquidity of nearby homes.

Mitigating Agency Costs in the Housing Market. Geoffrey K. Turnbull, Bennie D. Waller and Scott A. Wentland. Real Estate Economics,

Information asymmetries and incentive misalignments in housing markets are well-documented, as the homeowner-listing agent relationship often serves as a textbook example of the principal-agent problem. Yet, until recently, little research has studied what actually mitigates agency costs in these markets. Motivated by this, we investigate two mechanisms that plausibly curtail agency problems: agent education/training and the monetary incentive structure of salespersons and brokers. Using detailed real estate microdata from a decade of home transactions, we find that differences in compensation structures across brokers can effectively eliminate agency costs. The empirical evidence is consistent with managers/partners of a brokerage (principal brokers) having stronger monetary incentives to internalize potential reputational spillovers for their brokerage offices. We observe this result both cross-sectionally across agents and when employing a difference-in-difference (“within agent”) approach, using the timing of their incentive changes for identification. Where local reputational incentives are most instrumental, we find the clearest evidence of agency cost mitigation among principal brokers of non-franchise, locally-owned brokerages.

Why Disclose Less Information? Toward Resolving a Disclosure Puzzle in the Housing Market. Xun Bian, Justin Contat, Bennie D. Waller and Scott A. Wentland. Journal of Finance Real Estate and Economics,  

We examine the role of information disclosure in the housing market, offering both theory and evidence for observed variability in disclosure strategies among property listings in a multiple listing service (MLS). Our initial empirical findings and the theoretical literature suggest a positive link between information disclosure (e.g. number of photos) and marketing outcomes (e.g. sale price, liquidity). While intuitive, it raises an interesting puzzle: why then do some agents disclose less information? Analytically, we show that it can be optimal to omit information in some circumstances, particularly when homes are more heterogeneous or have greater scope for tastespecific attributes. Empirically, the data support the prediction that less information disclosure is beneficial for a large subsample of properties (i.e., high-end homes). Our results also reveal scope for new principal-agent issues, as agents generally disclose less when they market their own homes, and even less for their higher-end homes when it is a more optimal strategy.

Restrictions versus Amenities: The Differential Impact of Homeowners Associations on Property Marketability. Kimberly Goodwin, Claire Reeves LaRoche and Bennie D. Waller.  Journal of Property Research, 2020, 37:3, 2020, 238-253.

Common-interest developments (CIDs) or planned urban developments (PUDs) can include a multitude of property types such as condos, townhomes, coops, and single-family residences. Many such developments are privately governed by a homeowners’ association (HOA) and managed by an HOA board of directors comprised of community homeowners. While such communities and their governing bodies have been widely criticized for their onerous rules, regulations and exclusionary practices, many argue that the amenities, benefits and utility afforded to its members provide a large degree of satisfaction for homeowners. In fact, one of the purposes of an HOA is to preserve and enhance home values by creating an environment with minimal negative externalities. Although it is generally assumed that an HOA does add value, these associations have also generated a number of controversial disputes. This paper examines the effects of an HOA on marketability to empirically shed light on the question of whether buyers find HOAs to be beneficial or burdensome. The results show that the impact of the HOA on price, marketing time, and probability of sale are not even across price segments and exist even after controlling for the presence of gated communities.

Foreclosure Externalities and Home Liquidity.  Xun Bian, Raymond T. Brastow, Bennie D. Waller and Scott A. Wentland.  Real Estate Economics,

We study the external impact of foreclosures, exploring how foreclosed properties affect the liquidity of nearby homes. Empirically, we find a foreclosure increases a nearby home’s time-on-market by approximately 30% on average, which is primarily driven by a disamenity effect. There is evidence that this delay comes from surprises or information shocks to nearby sellers, as foreclosures that come on and/or leave the market after a nearby home’s listing date have the largest adverse liquidity effects. However, when there is no surprise and a nearby foreclosure remains through the entire marketing period, sellers discount list prices more steeply, effectively counteracting these liquidity effects. The results suggest that information, pricing and expectations play key roles in how this externality is absorbed by the real estate market.

Do Home Sellers Know Their Market? Evidence from Neighborhood Sober-Living Houses. Velma Zahirovic-Herbert, Geoffrey K. Turnbull and Bennie D. Waller. Applied Economic Letters,

We use a listing price hedonic model coupled with a standard selling price model to identify seller beliefs about how the housing market responds to refurbished formerly substandard properties serving as group homes. Occupied houses benefit the most and vacant houses the least in the long run from a nearby group home. The listing price model indicates that sellers of owner-occupied and rental houses anticipate these price effects whereas sellers of vacant properties appear to systematically underestimate the discount associated with vacant houses per se but correctly anticipate the smaller long run group home premia for their properties.

Properties that transact at/or above listing price:  Better broker, strategic pricing or just dumb luck? Geoffrey K. Turnbull, Bennie D. Waller and Velma Zahirovic-Herbert.  Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, forthcoming.

A surprisingly large number of houses sell above listing prices in a wide range of markets and in all market conditions. The question is: why do some houses sell above listing price while neighboring similar houses do not? Is it that sellers misprice the property at the outset, work with real estate brokers who are particularly skilled at bringing in high value buyers, or are simply lucky to have high value buyers show up during the marketing period? This paper makes two contributions. It offers an empirical framework to isolate seller and agent influences on the likelihood of selling above listing price. It also offers empirical evidence about the seller, agent and market determinants of sales above list across all market phases. Sellers who do not follow their agent’s guidance and under-price their property increase the likelihood of selling above list. Agent experience also increases the likelihood. We also identify specific marketing strategies and agent incentives that do and do not appear influence the likelihood of selling above listing price once the other seller behavior, agent characteristics, and market conditions are taken into account.

Are Home Warranties Worth It?  A Study in the Richmond Housing Market. Justin Contat and Bennie Waller.  Journal of Housing Research, (2020): 1-19.

We are the first to show that home warranties are beneficial by providing a valuable form of insurance to home buyers, which home sellers then (partially) extract in the form of price premiums and faster sales. The benefits of offering a home warranty differ among homes, with older homes tending to receive larger price premiums and lower-priced homes tending to sell faster. For the average home in our data that is priced at $236,000 and 28 years old, offering a home warranty is associated with a price premium of at least $4,000 and a reduction in time on market of at least 2.5 days. Additionally we find some evidence of principal-agent conflicts in the home warranty market.

This Old House: Historical Restoration as a Neighborhood Amenity. Geoffrey K. Turnbull, Bennie D. Waller, Scott A. Wentland, Walter R. Witschey and Velma Zahirovic-Herbert. Land Economics, 2019, 95:2.

Property markets do not fully price the public’s value for historic homes to correct the intergenerational externality associated with historical preservation. While preservation for future generations often provides the primary motivation for Pigovian subsidies, historical preservation or restoration policies may also have significant contemporary amenity effects. This study exploits unique data on the use of rehabilitative tax credits (RTCs) in Virginia to estimate the extent to which historic property investment generates market externalities for nearby nonhistoric properties. Using a difference-in-differences approach, the results indicate that homes in close proximity to RTCs sell at a premium, with only modest liquidity effects. (JEL H23, R38)

Connotation and Textual Analysis in Real Estate Listings.  Kimberly Goodwin, Bennie D. Waller and Shelton H. Weeks.  Journal of Housing Research, 2019, 27:2, 93-106.

(What) do top performing real estate agents deliver for their clients? Geoffrey K. Turnbull and Bennie D. Waller. Journal of Housing Economics, 2018, 41, 142-152.

Existing evidence indicates that larger listing inventories thin agent effort dedicated to each individual client. This study examines whether shopping externalities or other scale effects offset this inventory externality for agents with the largest market presence. Data from Central Virginia shows that agents holding the greatest percentage of listings in the housing market obtain higher prices and sell listing faster than other agents. This pattern is consistent with the notion that top tier listing agents are able to exploit their market presence to generate meaningful positive shopping externality effects for individual clients. Propensity scoring models provide evidence that the performance advantage of these agents is not driven by differences in the types of houses they represent, but reflects agent productivity. On the other hand, top tier agents in terms of sales do not consistently obtain higher prices or shorter selling times for their listing clients. The shopping externalities associated with top tier listing agents do not appear to extend to top tier selling agents.


 Who Benefits from Targeted Property Tax Relief: Evidence from Virginia Elections? Jeremy G. Moulton, Bennie D. Waller and Scott A. Wentland. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 2018, 37:2, 240-264.

This study examines the market impact of targeted property tax relief, which is critical
for understanding who exactly benefits from a widely used local policy. Specifically, we
investigate this in the context of two statewide ballot measures in Virginia that provided
property tax relief or heightened expectations for future relief intended to aid disabled
veterans and seniors, respectively. Using residential multiple listing service microdata
from Virginia, results from a regression discontinuity analysis show that once the 2010
tax relief measures passed on Election Day, property values rose sharply in response
to the sudden increase in demand for homeownership among the targeted groups. We
find that senior preferred housing and properties within areas with higher proportions
of seniors and veterans experienced the highest price appreciation, while areas with
fewer veterans or seniors saw little impact. The findings suggest that this type of policy
provides an immediate benefit to current homeowners, thereby offsetting benefits for
subsequent homeowners within the targeted groups. This effect represents an unintended consequence of targeted property tax relief as a policy tool more generally, as
immediate capitalization into home prices subsequently increases the cost of housing
for many individuals the relief was intended to help. 

The Impact of Presidential Elections on the Marketing Outcomes of Residential Properties. Geoffrey K. Turnbull, Bennie D. Waller and Justin Contat. Working paper, 2020.

Using a data set from a central Virginia MLS, we show that the uncertainty in the housing market before an election has statistically significant effects on both price and time on market, though the sign and magnitude of the changes depend upon the type of election. For presidential elections without an incumbent running, we find that election uncertainty is associated with a decrease in both price and time on market, both before and after the election. In contrast, for presidential elections with an incumbent and gubernatorial elections, we find that election uncertainty is associated with an increase in price and time on market, both before an after the election. Our results also suggest that these effects are likely to persist even after the election has occurred.