Is Selling a For Sale by Owner Home on Zillow Worth It?

By Craig Donofrio

Posted on May 19th, 2022


Zillow FSBO fees | Key challenges | Tips for marketing on Zillow | Alternatives to selling FSBO on Zillow | FAQs

When you're selling your home for sale by owner (FSBO), it's a no-brainer to list on Zillow. With 36 million visitors in 2021 alone, Zillow is the most popular real estate website in the United States β€” and it's free to post a FSBO listing.

It's not all roses, though. Your home's listing will be more difficult to find compared to agent-assisted listings because Zillow hides FSBO homes a bit. Plus, selling FSBO comes with its own difficulties.

For example, our friends at Clever Real Estate's Data Center surveyed 1,000 homeowners who planned to sell in 2022 β€” and 42% of homeowners incorrectly assume home buyers pay their agents' commission fees. (In reality, sellers pay all realtor fees.)

Plus, FSBO sellers typically take home less profit. In 2021, a typical FSBO home sold for $260,000, an astounding 20% less than the average sale price of $318,000 for sellers who worked with an agent.

If savings are your top priority, you can save thousands in commission fees by choosing a low commission agent who will also help you sell your home for top dollar. You'll still get a Zillow listing β€” but it won't be tucked away behind extra filters, and you'll have an agent who can swat away those underbidders and bargain hunters.

Our friends at Clever Real Estate can introduce you to top-rated local agents who can help you evaluate your options, including how to get the best possible proceeds from your sale. Best of all, Clever has pre-negotiated commission fees of just $3,000 or 1%, helping you save thousands while still getting full service. There's no obligation, so you can go back to selling your home FSBO if you so choose.

πŸ’‘ Find out how much you can save with Clever today! πŸ’‘

How Much Are Zillow For Sale by Owner Fees?

It's free to list a FSBO home on Zillow β€” there are no fees, even if your home sells.

But even though Zillow doesn't charge a fee, you can end up selling for less than your home is worth. According to Collateral Analytics, a real estate analytic product company, FSBO homes sell for an average of 5.5% less than comparable homes with agents.

Most buyers will be represented by an agent β€” in 2021, 87% of buyersbought with a broker or agent β€” so you'll still need to offer the standard 2-3% commission or else agents won't be motivated to show your property.

That 5.5% more than wipes out the 2-3% seller's agent commission, so you'll need to be extra careful with pricing your home and negotiating concessions.

Why it's difficult to market FSBO homes on Zillow

Zillow encourages buyers to contact agents β€” not homeowners β€” because Zillow makes money by selling advertising space to realtors.

That's a problem for FSBO home sellers. Zillow is banking on potential buyers calling up an advertised realtor about your home, and not you. Many FSBO sellers also receive unwanted calls from agents wanting to represent your home sale.

You can see this on any FSBO home listing on Zillow. Instead of your number, there's a big blue "Contact Agent" button on the listing. Zillow doesn't even show buyers exactly who they're contacting.

Your telephone number will be tucked away at the bottom of the "Overview" section and displayed in regular font β€” it doesn't stand out.

Zillow also obscures FSBO listings behind an extra filter in the upper right hand corner. When searching an area for homes, buyers will only see agent listings. They need to select "other listings" from the button. It's easy to miss β€” and that's the point.

Solutions for Marketing a FSBO Home on Zillow

There are two workarounds for these problems, but you can't do both.

#1: Pay for a flat fee MLS service

You can't get on the multiple listing service (MLS) without a realtor, but a flat fee MLS service will get your home on Zillow and other sites (like, Trulia, and your local MLS).

A flat fee MLS listing typically costs $299-399, although it may be significantly more depending on your area. For that price, a flat fee MLS company will connect you to a broker at the local level, and that broker will post your listing on the MLS.

Your home will then show up under "agent listings," but it won't say the home is being sold FSBO. Instead, the brokerage's contact information will be listed. The brokerage acts as a middleman, forwarding leads to you.

Be aware that you're at the broker's mercy. If you get a bad broker who doesn't forward leads and is difficult to reach β€” common problems among FSBO sellers who use flat fee services β€” you'll miss out on potential buyers.

#2: List your phone number in the description

When creating a FSBO Zillow listing, you can put your number in the listing description. Something simple like, "Please contact owner directly at (###) ###-###."

You can't do this with a flat fee MLS service, because there are rules about what can and can't be placed in an MLS listing. Instead, the listing broker's number must be listed as the point of contact.

4 Tips for Advertising Your FSBO Zillow Listing

Ready to make your FSBO Zillow listing? Follow these tips!

1. Optimize Your Zillow Listing

Zillow sorts listings by newest first, which means your listing is likely to get the most views right after it goes live. Making even just a small change to your listing often moves it higher in the search results.

Lowering the price by even $100 will refresh your listing and send out a notification to anyone who has favorited your home. Scheduling an open house will also send out a notification.

Beware: lowering your price too often can send the wrong message to buyers, and scheduling too many open houses can signal desperation. FSBO open houses come with their own challenges, as you'll want to stay out of the buyers' way and remain objective about questions or criticism.

If this process seems too confusing and you're worried about accidentally creating red flags β€” and potentially losing a bunch of money β€” you should consider a qualified, low-commission agent.

Our friends at Clever can match you with experienced local agents who can get you on the MLS, make your listing stand out, and help sell your home for its maximum value. There's no obligation or upfront hidden fees, and you'll only pay 1% or $3,000 if your home sells.

⭐ The average Clever seller saves over $9,000! ⭐

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2. Write a Winning Home Description

You'll want to entice buyers by providing specific information about your home and the area. Paint a picture of a home that buyers are excited to find, and try and spice up the language.

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3. Invest in professional photos

Buyers are going to look at pictures first and descriptions second. Professional real estate photography costs an average of $100-125 an hour, according to Thumbtack.

Good photos with great lighting and perfect perspective can make even smaller homes look bright and inviting. Bad photos can make great homes look dull and ugly.

Unless you really know how to use a camera, we recommend spending the few hundred bucks and going with a pro. Professional photos will make your listing stand out and attract more buyers.

4. Provide Plenty of Details to Aid Searches

When you list a house for sale on Zillow, you have access to different data fields. Pay attention to the section marked β€œHome Details.” Information in this section is shown directly in search results, so it’s a great place to specify things like:

  • Type of property (condo, townhouse, single-family)

  • Architectural style

  • Year built

  • Manufacturing materials

These details will help your home show up for buyers who filter their searches by specific features.

Zillow Alternatives

Zillow isn't the only place you should advertise a for sale by owner home. You should also consider these websites, which will let you list a FSBO home for free:

  • Facebook Marketplace: Good for finding local buyers

  • Craigslist: Good for finding investors

  • Fizber: Good for creating a shareable home listing with photos and captions

Keep in mind that a significant number of buyers may not even be aware that FSBO listings are on these sites. Our Data Center recently surveyed 1,000 homeowners and found that 19% of them didn't know where to look for FSBO homes.

So even though Zillow is massively popular, many homebuyers may not even know FSBO listings exist there.

We recommend going with a discount realtor instead of just listing on Zillow. You'll get the support of a full service agent who can navigate the entire selling process and get more eyeballs on your property than any FSBO website. Our friends at Clever are your best bet β€” you'll save thousands on commission while only paying 1% or $3,000 in listing fees.

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How much are Zillow for sale by owner fees?

It's totally free to list and sell a for sale by owner home on Zillow. But while Zillow doesn't charge a fee, you could end up losing a significant amount of money on your home sale in the long run.

Should I sell my house on Zillow?

While there's no cost to selling a for sale by owner home on Zillow, it's not easy. Since Zillow doesn't make money on FSBO sales, it significantly obscures its FSBO listings. Learn how to maximize your home's visibility, plus the best alternatives to a purely DIY sale.

Where can I list my house for sale by owner for free?

Zillow is the most popular website to post a for sale by owner home for free. But savvy home sellers shouldn't limit themselves to just Zillow and should post their FSBO home on other free websites like Craigslist, Facebook, and Fizber.

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Posted in Selling a House