Many for Sale By Owners will pay a Buyer's Agent's commission so it will not cost you anything. You should have some representation in the transaction to watch over your best interests, a REALTOR does this everyday for a living, or you may wish to hire a "Real Estate" attorney to at least review the contracts and disclosures (They will charge for this service). Your REALTOR can also determine market value of the property that you are interested in, so that you do not overpay.
An REALTOR will bring much more by providing full service throughout the transaction, including recommending home inspection services, mortgage companies, and termite companies to get your best idea of the condition of the property and best loan available.
I strongly recommended that you have someone on your side to watch out for your interests!
It will depend on the seller. It typically is the sellers responsibility to pay the commission of the buyers agent. Some times the seller will not pay the buyers real estate agent commission and if that is the case, you should definitely consult with a real estate attorney. The difference between the attorney and agent is that the attorney will provide limited services and provide primarily counsel where as an agent will most likely over see all of the transactions documentation and make sure both parties have submitted all of the necessary documents and disclosures required to close escrow. It will probably go much smoother using a realtor and most the time the seller will work with a buyers agent.
Hope that helps!
Your broker should have more knowledge to negotiate the best deal to save you some coin.
Nick Rhea, MBA, Broker
Bombora Investments, Inc.