It's a large tent. There are upwards of 30,000 active licensed real estate brokers in Washington State, and with few exceptions, they are independent contractors who work solely on commission. Typically, the home seller pays for all the brokerage costs in a real estate transaction, including the Buyers Agent's commission. So if you are buying a home you may have no out-of-pocket expenses for broker services, but choosing the wrong one could cost you plenty down the line. The same can be said for other service providers such as lenders and inspectors. Following is a list of the basic elements of how the buying process works and the associated costs. There's good info in House Logic too.