Informational Asymmetry – The Property Market’s Fundamental Problem - searchpartyproperty

Informational Asymmetry – The Property Market’s Fundamental Problem

Informational asymmetry, where one party in a transaction possesses more or superior information than the other, is a concept well-documented in economic theory.

It can be a big problem, and its effect is felt uniquely within the real estate market – far more than in other asset classes like stocks, commodities or cryptocurrencies.

Compared to many of these alternative investments, traded in vast quantities across highly regulated and transparent markets, with no informational lag, real estate is inherently unique.

Each property possesses distinct characteristics – location, condition, age, features, and capital growth potential, making comparative valuation very difficult.

Furthermore, unlike the instantaneous nature of stock or crypto trades, real estate transactions are extremely slow moving, often taking months to finalise. These drawn-out processes exacerbate informational asymmetry, as market conditions may shift during this period, further complicating valuation and negotiation.

Additionally, the tangible and utilitarian nature of property – as a place to live or do business – injects highly emotional and subjective factors into the market, dimensions that don’t play as large of a role elsewhere. This ‘emotional valuation’ can create further divergence from a true market valuation, widening the information gap between a seller and a prospective buyer.

In turn, these factors can all have an enormous impact upon market liquidity.

Buyers, wary of overpaying or acquiring a property with undisclosed issues, may adopt a more cautious posture, creating wider bid-ask spreads (the difference between the lowest price a seller is willing to accept and the highest price a buyer is willing to pay) which further reduces the speed of the overall market.

Furthermore, consider an interstate buyer, or even one who is overseas. In such cases, it’s likely that the gap in information between buyer and seller is even more pronounced, having a monumental impact upon the efficiency of negotiations.

On the other hand, sellers might wish to buffer against unknown future expenses or negotiations, or price a property due to having full knowledge of that property’s potential for growth.

How can investors navigate informational asymmetry?

The challenges posed by informational asymmetry in real estate are not usually insurmountable.

Ultimately, the smaller the gap in information, the better your outcomes.

Advances in data analytics, research methodologies, and technology offer strategic solutions. As an investor, it’s about leveraging the available tools and resources to gather as much information as possible about a property you’re considering.

Data and Research:

Access to comprehensive property databases, market trend analyses, and historical transaction records can significantly reduce the information gap. Platforms that aggregate real estate data provide both buyers and sellers with a clearer picture of property valuations, market conditions, and potential investment returns, aiding in more informed decision-making.


Things like virtual tours, or even AI-driven valuation models are examples of technological innovations that enhance transparency and accuracy in property transactions. These tools can help bridge the information gap by providing detailed insights into properties, irrespective of the investor’s physical location.

Buyers Agents and Professionals:

Engaging with real estate professionals, especially buyers’ agents, can be a game-changer. These experts bring to the table their extensive market knowledge, negotiation skills, and access to off-market listings, helping to level the playing field. Buyers’ agents act as advocates for the buyer, using their expertise to uncover information, negotiate prices, and navigate the complexities of real estate transactions.

So, while informational asymmetry does present a unique and significant challenge in the real estate market, it’s not entirely unavoidable.

Want to discuss this further?

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