Q. I saw a house that is for sale by owner. Do I need an agent for that?
A. Yes, in fact more than ever because you are more than likely dealing with someone who doesn't understand everything involved in a real estate transaction. Two unrepresented parties trying to bumble their way through the process is sure to get someone in trouble.
Your buyer agent will make the contact with the seller. One of the first things that your agent will determine is if the seller is willing to pay him/her a commission on the sale. Most FSBO sellers will usually agree to pay a commission. If they don't, that's a problem that you'll need to work out. Your agent can't be expected to work for nothing, and you may have to agree to pay the commission if you really want the house.
When you make an offer, this is where your agent will be a real asset to you. Most FSBO houses are overpriced. I have never seen a FSBO house priced below the market. There is sure to be a negotiation and your agent is the best person for that.
Once you have a signed agreement, your agent will guide you through the closing process and act as the intermediary between you and the seller. There are lots of things that the seller's agent usually does to facilitate the process and FSBO sellers seldom understand all of them. Your agent will be earning his money.
In the end, are you really getting a "deal" by trying to buying a FSBO? Remember that the seller has, at best, saved about half of what the normal commission might have been. They've added quite a bit of extra effort to the process for you and your agent and, hopefully, you got the benefit of some of those savings. It better be a really great house and a good deal, if you're going to take on the challenges of dealing with an unrepresented seller.