There are no disadvantages to hiring an agent as a buyer, only advantages.
But home buyers sometimes mistakenly think that they will get a better deal when they buy from a seller or developer if they go it alone. That isn't necessarily the case. You will generally get the same deal – if not a worse deal.
Why? The developer has already factored in the commission in his or her pricing and assumes you're going to come to the table with a broker. If you don't, that's extra cash in his pocket, not yours.
The same thing is true with the seller of an existing home. If the home is listed with an agent, the seller and agent have already agreed on a total commission paid, whether or not you come to the table alone or with a buyer’s agent.
The seller isn't going to cut you a deal because he or she is legally bound to pay the selling agent 5 or 6 percent in the listing agreement. That commission is typically split between the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent at the closing table. If you don't have a buyer's agent, the seller's agent keeps the whole thing.
But it's up to you to decide what to do. If you're comfortable doing this on your own without an agent, then go ahead. No one can force you to hire an agent or attorney if you don't want one.
(C) 2005 by Ilyce R. Glink. All rights reserved. Ilyce R. Glink is a nationally-syndicated columnist, radio talk show host and the author of many books about real estate and personal finance, including 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask (3rd Ed.). For more information, visit her website,