This will be the best news you’ve ever heard: I work for free.
OK, the truth is that I do get paid at the end of the day, but my fee comes off of the seller’s bottom line at the closing. My services to buyers are 100% free.
This is how it goes down: when a seller and listing agent sign a listing agreement to put the house on the market, the seller agrees to pay the commissions of both agents. The listing agent will take half and (be so kind as to) share the other half with the “cooperating agent” on the buyer’s side. Despite the fact that my check will come from the seller, my professional duty and loyalty will still be to my buyer clients, of course. (Another fun fact: that check actually goes to my broker/office who then cuts me my share.)
So what’s the deal if the house is for sale by owner?
First, for sale by owner properties are very rare (only 9% of the national market, according to the National Association of Realtors). Second, if it so happens that my buyer client drives by a sign and wants to see the house, I will still negotiate my fee into the contract so that it will be paid by the seller in the end.
I don’t think I knew this before I was a real estate agent. And I still have people asking me the cost of my help all the time, so I wanted to throw it out there. So if you’re thinking about buying a house (or getting close to thinking about it), you might as well call me up. It’s never too early to seek out the (free!) advice of a realtor. We may not be driving around listings next Saturday, but I will sit down with you and lay out the general buying process. Believe me, there are other myths to unpack. Also, there might be steps you do want to take ASAP, such as checking your credit score or learning about your lending options, because it could help your home-buying position and opportunity in the future.
Anyway, I’m always down for a coffee date.