How Does A Buyers Agent Get Paid?
Many first time home buyers stay away from buyer’s agents because they think it will cost them money. Well, the opposite is really true; a buyer’s agent will likely save you money. How, you ask? Well, most often the buyer doesn’t pay the agent, and the buyer gets the benefits of an agent’s knowledge, expertise, and negotiating skills. See our post about the benefits of a buyer’s agent for more info on how they can help.
So, how does the buyer’s agent get paid? With the typical sale, a seller pays an agent to list the property for sale. Within the listing contract this listing broker says they will offer a specified percentage of their commission to a buyer’s agent, if there is one. So, the seller is paying a commission to the listing broker, and the listing broker is paying a commission to the buyer’s agent. This is the way most deals work.
Where the buyer needs to be careful is with FSBO’s (For Sale by Owner) and lower commission MLS deals. It’s becoming more and more common that FSBO sellers are willing to pay a buyer’s agent, but it needs to be written into the purchase contract. Also, many buyer agencies contracts will say that the buyer’s agent gets paid a percentage of the purchase price or the MLS offer of compensation (what the listing agent is offering), “whichever is greater”. When you sign a buyer’s agency agreement, make your agent cross out the “whichever is greater” portion. If you sign an agreement to pay the greatest of 3% or the MLS offer of compensation and the listing agent is only offering 2.5%, you as a buyer could be on the hook for the extra 0.5%. These instances are rare, but you need to be aware of them. We’ve actually never had a buyer pay us any portion of our commission out of their pocket.
As a buyer, having an agent work for you through a transaction rather than for the seller, at no cost to you, is a no brainer.