I am in the process of doing this, buying without a realtor, and I fully expect that the seller's agent will renegotiate his commission to facilitate the sale. I am an intelligent guy, just bought a house 4 years ago, I have a real estate attorney representing me in the sale, and frankly and most importantly, my experience with realtors is nothing like the idyllic picture discribed by apologists herein, where they are knowledgable, helpful, etc. That's the crux for me. If somebody is going to make $10,000 from "helping" or "guiding" me through a process, they're going to have to be STELLAR, and what they do is going to have to clearly demonstrate great expertise in a complicated field. Sadly, I don't think that it requires great expertise, it's not that complicated, and it CERTAINLY should not net somebody $10K for the time it takes them.
The realtors I've had experience with did squat for me. Pulled some homes within my price range from that magic hat the MLS generator, then drove me around in a LEXUS to homes with gutters falling down, roofs in bad repair, etc. If you're gonna make $10K on helping me, then help me goddurnit. Go around and vet the houses before you put me in the Lexus and waste my afternoon paring the list of 12 down to 6 after the obvious ramshackle overpriced homes are weeded out.
We'd walk into a place and I'd hear "oh, wow, nice layout" then I'd start noticing dilapidated furnaces, water stains here and there, this and that obvious structural defects, and, reading my disappointment, she would shift gears and start to bag on the house - a real "yes-woman".
Later she would tell me, "oh, you don't have to look at all that structural stuff, that's what I'm for". Yeah, right. YOur contract in the first paragraph discloses that you have absolutely no expertise in such matters, and that, as a result of that disclosure you are totally indemnified against any responsibility for any loss I might suffer as a result of your advice in such matters! Well, if you can't be held to a standard, what will I do? Woe is me?
Here's what I'll do. I'll vet the goddurn houses myself on zillow and trulia and other sites, i'll troll the neighborhoods, and I'll find the house I want. After I look at a few dozen, and peruse the zillow data, I'll begin to get a feel for what I can get for $300K. I'll learn more when I see overpriced homes languish for months on end, and I'll learn more when a "steal" is sold in the first week and I miss it. But I'll learn. And what I don't learn, the attorney and the inspector, professionals that CAN be held to standards and who are not indemnified for negligence by their contract can earn an honest fee for the service they provide me.
Meanwhile, that $9,000 commission the "buyer's agent" would have made from, as someone astutely pointed out, my pocket, will remain in my pocket and I'll use $1000 of it to pay the attorney and the inspector a fair wage for a fair amount of work.
I'll let you know how it goes.