There is undoubtedly a time and a place for a buyer’s agent when purchasing real estate in the US. Maybe you don’t know the market, exactly where you want to look, or even what to look for. Getting an agent to help you out can certainly ease your search.

But don’t for a minute buy the baloney that your agent is free. In Chicago, the buyer’s agent picks up 2.5% of the sales price. And that’s how the myth of free lives on, since it’s the seller that actually pays for your services (don’t even get me started on how lopsided that is). The thinking goes that if you’re not using an agent to buy, the seller’s guy gets the full 5%.

Right. Just like everyone actually starts their bidding at the asking price. Of course that fee is negotiable. And by “negotiable”, I mean saying “I’m not represented by an agent, but I want the commission due none the less” and the seller saying “Sure!” (as based on anecdotal, personal experience dealing with 4 sellers in Chicago).

To fellow Danes — and I assume many other countries in the world with no defacto price-fixing on real-estate commissions either — this comes as no surprise. We never had a wide-spread concept of buyer’s agents.

For US buyers who know where and what they want and are willing to do a little work yourself, I suggest you ignore the myth and pick up that $10,000 commission check on a $400K house yourself. That’s probably the best hourly rate on work most people will ever see.