[I didn't know that was how it worked in Canada (I'm in the UK) VeryFluffy's right. Here, the agents work for, and are paid by, the vendor. You don't pay anything to an agent when you are buying a property. Once you find a house a make an offer you instruct a solicitor who then deals with the technicalities of the purchase. So both vendor and buyer will have lawyers who they pay, but only the seller has an agent.
Minor clarification. As the buyer you don't pay the real estate agents anything directly. You pay the for the house to the lawyer and the seller and then the seller pays the agents (though I think the money goes to the bank for the mortgage and then to the agents and then to the seller with each taking a cut.
However, it seemed to me to be a false distinction. I remember my agent saying that I wan't paying the commission, the seller was. But that seemed silly because the commission is built into the cost of the house and I was buying the house so the money seemed to be coming from me (just in a roundabout fashion).
Yeah, but that would be true of anything.
You buy a car, and the commission to the car salesman comes from his employer--but out of the purchase price.
You buy a dress, and the commission to the sales lady comes from her employer--but out of the purchase price.
You buy groceries, and the paycheck of the cashier comes from her employer--but out of the purchase price.
Remember that money is fungible. Your price may be $5,000 higher than if there were no agent, but the moment it leaves your hand, it isn't yours. (and heck--maybe they're paying that $5,000 out of their savings account, and not out of the check they get from you. Would you still think that you are paying the commission?)