The buyer ALWAYS pays the commission. It just comes off of the seller's side at closing so that the buyer can finance it into the loan. The seller paid the commission when they bought and on and on. It is all rolled up into the price of the home. This is why people try to "save" the commission by going FSBO. (Which never made sense to me, since only the buyers trying to save the commission go after FSBO's) ??? But that's another story.
This is why, when people pay all cash, they usually negotiate paying commission and closing costs outside of the sales price. (Which is legal in CA and makes for a lower tax base.)
Most agents don't "charge" a commission because what they are offering agents to bring a buyer is already agreed upon by the seller and listing agent and posted in the MLS.
I am assuming that what you mean by a "buyer's agent charging less", really means that you are promised a rebate of the "buy side" commission in one way or the other from a discount broker. This could be used toward "lowering" the final sales price or toward closing costs, etc... Right?
This also makes me assume that you feel all agents are created equally and that it doesn't really matter who you use. Let's look at it another way.
If you were going to choose a lawyer, a doctor or any other professional, would you choose someone who wants to earn your business based on their knowledge and skill or someone standing outside their door waving a fist full of cash, that has to "pay" you to use them? I would wonder about their negotiating skills if they had to attract clients this way.
If they are willing to give away their own money, they are willing to give away yours.
If you choose someone who cannot negotiate for themselves, you will end up paying far more for a home than you save with this type of rebate.
Let's assume that the price you are looking at is $500,000. Buy side commission as stated in the MLS is 3%. That's $15,000. Let's say your discount agent will work for 1% or $5,000. You are super excited that you are "saving" $10,000. Sounds like a good plan. So you put your offer in and let's say it gets accepted for $490,000 and you're happy because you've really just bought the home for $480,000 since you can apply the "rebate" toward the final sales price.
Happy that is, until you find out the same house down the street sold for $460,000 because they had an agent who could negotiate. An agent who gave them lots of advice and spent lots of time with them and even presented the offer in person with all the supporting data. An agent who didn't have pay you to work with them because they earn their money by saving their clients tens of thousands of dollars with their skill. How much have you really saved?
You will save much more money going after knowledge and skill than you will looking at commissions. PERIOD.
Since as buyer, you are paying the commissions anyways, you should get the best agent for your money.
Feel free to contact me if you would like someone who can save you more than the rebate in your area. The link the my info is below.