There are times when a buyer agent has a minimum fee and the coop commission offered to the buyer agent is under that threshold. For example, the seller/sellers' agent offer a coop fee to the buyer agent of $1. Yes, I have seen this. The buyer agent, individually, or through his/her company has a minimum fee that is required in order for them to represent you as a buyer. The situation I describe is the exception, not the norm. It is however, becoming more common today vs. a year ago......and was unheard of just a few years back. It results from the fact that some offer of compensation is required, but no minimum is required.
We will see more and more buyer agents execute written agreements with their buyer clients.
Who pays the buyer agent commission is a matter of perspective. Even when a buyer agent and his/her client have an agreement for the amount the buyer agent will be paid, the fee is almost always paid from the seller proceeds at closing.
Typically, the seller/sellers' agent offers a coop fee that covers the buyer agent commission, and that amount is paid from seller proceeds. One can argue that the seller pays the fee, so it is "free" to the buyer. One can also argue that no sale happens until a buyer agrees to buy, and that the buyer, in reality is paying the real estate commissions for both the seller agent and buyer agent. The perspective that I endorse, is that the commissions paid are but just one of many expenses of the transaction...........as are realty transfer fees, attorney fees, etc. The parties, both buyer and seller, execute a contract when the benefit of the transaction outweighs the expenses of the transaction. This does not apply to only real estate fees.......there are other expenses required to close and transfer title on real property.
In absence of a real estate agent, a seller believes they are entitled to the "savings" and the buyer believes they are entitled to the "savings"...........and in each situation, the end result may be favorable or highly unfavorable for one or both parties. Sellers will look at comps, and assume they should sell for the same amount. Sellers will argue that they did the work and carried the expense that a real estate agent would have. Buyers disregard that, and look at the comps and $$$ accordingly.
Since it is a sellers decision to sel without an agent, I believe the buyer should not be penalized are put at risk by engaging in a purchase without a real estate agent (and preferably a Realtor). My first suggestion is that a buyer retain a buyer agent and build that into the transaction. If a buyer is not doing that, the buyer should pay substantially less than any comps.....and I mean substantially. There should be a discount from the comps to reflect any fees that would have paid to a real estate agent. And, there should be a discount to the buyer for entering a transaction where there is greater risk of current or future cost or liability. If a FSBO seller is not willing to discount substantially from the comps, walk away and find another property.