I write out of frustration and a desire to offer a tip that can save you a lot of money when you buy a house. When you’re looking for a house, it can be helpful to have a realtor working with you because they have access to listings (especially good new ones) and generally a good eye for the market. Typically the seller pays the realtor, so it doesn’t cost you anything.
BUT, things are a little different if you happen to find a house that is for sale by owner. The entire reason someone would sell a house by owner is because they do not want to pay thousands and thousands of dollars to a realtor. Technically, if you use a realtor to show you a for sale by owner house, that seller will be expeted to pay a commission – usually 3%. What happens is that the realtor will call the seller and get an agreement before they will even show you, the buyer, the house. If the seller doesn’t want to pay a commission, the realtor will steer you away. If, however, a deal is struck, you can rest assured that you will pay more for the house by using a realtor than you would without, because the seller will factor the commission to your offer to figure out what he is walking away with. You wind up paying more than you might otherwise have to pay.
So the lesson is this: You are not contractually or even morally bound to your realtor if you find the house on your own. It happens everyday; it’s business. So save yourself some money. Real estate in general seems to me to be a bit of a sticky business, definitely some slimy elements, to be frank. I cannot imagine paying someone a 6% commission to sell a house unless I was in a hurry.