Will You Save Money If You Don’t Use a Buyer’s Agent?

Girl searches on her computer for homes.

Can you really buy a home successfully with only the internet to help you?

I can tell by the questions he asks in class that he’s looking for all the angles. What will help him get the best house for the least money?

And then he says, “I’m not going to use a buyer’s agent. I want to save the commission.”

Except it doesn’t work that way because of how most real estate agents get paid.

How Do (Most) Real Estate Agents Get Paid?

I’m glad you asked.

When someone decides to sell her house, she signs a contract with a listing agent. The contract spells out how much the agent will earn when he sells the house.

If a buyer comes with her own agent, the listing agent shares his commission with the buyer’s agent. The amount of the split is spelled out in the contract.

So if you buy a house without your own agent, the seller’s agent gets to keep the whole commission. And you’re paying for it (how nice of you!) since you’re the one paying for the house.

Even worse, you’re not getting the help of an agent representing your interests. But the seller is.

What About a House That’s For Sale By Owner?

That might be different. Or it might not.

Why does someone sell his house without hiring a real estate agent? There are lots of little reasons. But the big one is that he doesn’t want to pay a commission for work he believes he can do himself.

If the seller lowers the house price accordingly, you might do great.

But what if he sells his house for the same price as every other house for sale in the neighborhood that does have a listing agent? Then you’d be paying the same price for the house and the seller would be pocketing the money he’d normally pay as a commission.

If you’re already working with a buyer’s agent and become interested in a FSBO (for sale by owner) house, ask her about it. Maybe she can negotiate with the seller to receive a small commission from the sale and help you negotiate a fair price at the same time.

Saving Money When You Buy a House

You can save money lots of ways from shopping for houses over Christmas to offering a seller something she wants more than money.

But you’re probably not going to save money by refusing good (and the crucial adjective is good) representation in a deal.

Your Turn: Have you thought of ways to save money when you buy a house? Do you want to know if they’re likely to work? Leave a comment here.
photo credit: jerine via photopin cc Click image to learn more about the photographer.


  1. After buying and selling houses in the U.S., England and Ireland I have to say I have great respect for the system in the U.S. then I did. In England agents do nothing to earn their commission. Rarely in England and Ireland (except maybe London and Dublin) do they even show the house. The owner does that. The agent lists the house. That’s it. You have to hire a lawyer (solicitor) to draw up the contract. You pay him for that. The agent takes the deposit and puts it in the bank (don’t look to get the interest) but the buyer can pull out up until the signing with no penalty at all. That mean’s there is a buying chain and one purchaser pulling out can break the whole chain, like a dominoe reaction.

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