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I have been looking at houses in Richmond Hill, Markham and North York for a few years now. Partly because I'm interested in moving up and partly because I'm interested in the housing market. I bought one recently without using an agent. In my experience, you do save if you don't use a buyer's agent. But it's unlikely you'd save the 2.5% or 2.25%. And it's not a bad idea to use a buyer's agent if you can get a good deal.
In my experience, listing agents are more interested in selling to buyers without agent - I figure they at least get a cut of the 2.5% commission due to buyer's agent and the sale is easier to all parties because everyone saves. Of the few houses I made an offer or showed strong interest, the listing agents were very enthusiastic. They were noticeably frustrated when the seller wasn't flexible. One agent even called the seller unreasonable. I've never been refused a showing. Majority of them I called within a few days of the listing start date. This year I was more serious and I got to see most houses within a day or two of the listing. A couple of them I saw right on the day the listing showed up.
It's unlikely you'll save the 2.5% or 2.25% commission, however. I believe most listing agreements give the listing agent a cut in the event of a sale to someone without an agent. Last year, I was interested in a house in Markham. The house had been in the market for quite a while and the seller already lowered the price. However, the listing agent refused to budge on buyer's agent commission. She said she should get the 2.5% because she had to do all the work for me. HA! I figure your advantage is that most listing agents would be willing to negotiate on the buyer's agent commission in order to make a sale. However, in a hot market like now, they're much less motivated. Many years ago when I sold my old house, my agreement called for 5% with a buyer's agent and 4% without, if my memory is correct.
The big disadvantage of buying on your own is the lack of market knowledge and the difficulty of getting timely sales information. This doesn't apply to me because I've looked in areas I like for years and I know the sale price of all the houses I visited either privately or during an open house. I guess I'm probably more informed than these less experienced agents. Also I have a friend who's a licensed agent and I can get any sales data I wanted from him any time. In a sense, he's my buyer's agent. I believe if you get a good deal, it's worthwhile to use a buyer's agent. Otherwise you'll have to devote a lot of time to research. And you can't easily get the most recent information for the area and the house.
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