When selling your home for sale by owner (FSBO), it’s a no-brainer to list on Zillow. With 224 million average monthly unique visitors in Q3 2023, Zillow is the most popular real estate website in the U.S. — and it’s free to use to sell by owner.
But your listing will be more difficult for buyers to find on Zillow compared to listings with an agent. And you might save less than you thought you would. You’ll likely still have to pay a buyer’s agent fee, and your home might sell for a lot less than it would with an agent.
If you want to save on commission without sacrificing on price, consider listing your home with a low commission realtor. You’ll still get a Zillow listing — it just won’t be tucked away behind extra filters.
The easiest way to shop around for a low commission agent is through Clever Real Estate. Clever is a free, no-obligation service that matches you with the best agents in your area. You can compare real estate agents and sell with one for a low 1.5% listing fee, or you can go back to selling FSBO if you decide that’s the better fit.
How Much Are Zillow for Sale by Owner Fees?
It’s free to list a FSBO home on Zillow. There aren’t for sale by owner fees, even when your home sells.
But even though you won’t pay fees, you might lose money by selling for less than your home is worth. FSBO homes sell for an average of close to $100,000 less than agent-assisted sales in 2023.
Selling for less could negate your savings on the 2–3% seller’s agent commission. To avoid this situation, consider getting a comparative market analysis to properly price your home.
Also be prepared to pay a 2–3% buyer’s agent commission. Most home buyers (86%) purchase a home with the help of a broker or agent. You’ll want to offer a buyer’s agent commission so agents have an incentive to show buyers your property.
How Does Zillow Make Money?
Realtors pay Zillow to connect them with buyers and sellers who don’t have an agent — like anyone selling FSBO.
So when you sell FSBO on Zillow, you can expect a lot of calls from real estate agents. They’ll try to convince you to work with them instead of selling on your own.
Also, Zillow will direct interested buyers to contact local buyer’s agents instead of you directly. On your listing, Zillow will include:
- A “Contact agent” button
- A “Your personal guides” section, which highlights the benefits of using an agent
- A “Contact a local agent now” section
Why It’s Difficult to Sell for Sale by Owner on Zillow
It’s hard to sell FSBO on Zillow because:
- Zillow encourages buyers to contact agents — not homeowners
- Zillow makes it harder for buyers to find FSBO homes on its site
Zillow is banking on buyers calling an advertised realtor about your home, not you. On your listing, the “Contact agent” button will stand out.
Your phone number will be easy for buyers to miss. It’ll be at the bottom of the “Overview” section in a regular font.
Does Zillow Hide FSBO Listings?
Yes. When buyers search for homes on the site, Zillow automatically displays homes represented by an agent. To view FSBO homes, buyers have to adjust the filter settings to include “by owner” homes.
A Step-by-Step Guide for Listing Your Home FSBO on Zillow
1. Log In to Zillow or Make a Profile
Log in to your Zillow account. Or if you don’t have one, sign up for an account.
2. Claim the Property as Your Own
Look up your address on Zillow. It should already be in Zillow’s database. Once you find it, claim it by clicking “Unlock Owner Dashboard.” If you don’t see this button, click “More” > “Claim Ownership” instead.
3. Click “List For Sale By Owner” to Create a Listing
From the Public view, click “More” > “List For Sale By Owner.” Or, from the Owner Dashboard, click “List” > “List For Sale by Owner.” Now you can start creating your listing.
4. Write a Winning Home Description
Entice buyers by writing a compelling description of your home and the surrounding area. Here are some features to include and how to write about them:
|🏡 Upgrades or renovations
|Use brand names when possible.
|“Living room has been tastefully updated with designer-grade Behr Marquee paint, and both bathrooms feature Perigold hardware.”
|🚙 Nearby amenities
|Be specific about distance if it works in your favor.
|“Bike or walk to Provincetown Park, which is just two miles away. A 10-minute drive to coffee shops, boutique stores, and great restaurants.”
|🏅 Local schools
|Note good schools nearby.
|“Drop the kids off fast! Just five miles away from Perry Elementary School.”
|🌳 Neighborhood features
|Highlight what you love about your neighborhood.
|“Great neighbors on a not-too-busy street. The neighbors love walking their dogs and pushing strollers through this shady, slow-paced neighborhood.”
|💛 Things you love
|Help buyers envision life in your home!
|“The backyard attracts birds during the day and fireflies at night. You’ll love relaxing or dining out on the back porch.”
You can also add your phone number to the description. Write something simple, like “Please contact owner directly at (###) ###-###.” This encourages interested buyers to contact you directly instead of through a real estate agent.
5. Add Professional Photos
If you’re not confident in your photography skills, it’s wise to hire a professional. In 2024, the cost for professional real estate photography ranges from $110 to $300, varying by the photographer’s experience and your location. This investment is crucial for making your listing shine.
A National Association of Realtors (NAR) study emphasizes the significance of photos, revealing that 85% of home buyers consider them the most important feature on a website, followed by detailed property information and agent contact details, each valued by 53% of buyers.
Professional photos can dramatically enhance your listing’s appeal, showcasing your home in the best light and drawing in more potential buyers with its bright and welcoming appearance.
6. Provide Details to Aid Searches
Fill out the data fields in the “Home Details” section. You can specify things like:
- Type of property (e.g., 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.
7. Click “Post For Sale By Owner” to Publish
Once your listing is complete, click “Post For Sale By Owner.” Zillow will verify the listing before it goes live, which can take up to 72 hours.
8. Optimize Your Zillow Listing
If your Zillow listing isn’t gaining much traction, you can optimize it by updating it.
Zillow sorts FSBO listings by newest first. Making even a small change to your listing, like lowering the price or scheduling an open house, often moves it higher in the search results. Zillow also sends a notification to anyone who has favorited your home.
The Best Zillow Alternatives
Zillow vs. Realtors
If you think selling FSBO on Zillow will be too much of a hassle, you can use a realtor with lower rates instead. This way, you can save money AND get the expert help of a real estate agent.
Without a realtor, you have to handle complex paperwork and negotiations on your own. You also risk making mistakes with financial and legal consequences.
With a realtor, you have help to:
- Navigate the entire sale process
- Maximize your home’s sale price
- Avoid legal trouble
To find a realtor with lower rates, try using Clever Real Estate. Clever is a free service that connects you with realtors offering a 1.5% listing fee – half the national average rate of 2.83% — saving the average Clever home seller $7,000!
👋 Need a great agent?
Zillow vs. Flat Fee MLS Service
When you list FSBO on Zillow, only buyers who visit the site can view your listing. When you get on the multiple listing service (MLS) through a flat fee MLS service, your listing gets maximum exposure.
Most buyer’s agents find listings for their clients on the MLS. And when a home is on the MLS, the listing automatically appears on sites like Zillow and Realtor.com.
Only an agent or broker with a real estate license can access the MLS. For about $299–399, a flat fee MLS company will connect you to a local broker. That broker will post your listing on the local MLS.
Your home will then show up with agent listings on Zillow. The listing will have your broker’s contact information, and they’ll forward leads to you.
You’ll be at the broker’s mercy. If you get a bad broker who doesn’t forward leads and is difficult to reach (which is a common problem), you’ll miss out on potential buyers.
Zillow vs. Other FSBO Sites
Zillow isn’t the only place you can advertise a for sale by owner home. Consider marketing your home on these other free websites:
- Facebook Marketplace: Best for finding local buyers
- Craigslist: Best for finding investors
- Fizber: Best for creating a shareable home listing with photos and captions
You may not want to rely too heavily on these sites. Many buyers might not know FSBO listings are on them. When our Data Center recently surveyed 1,000 homeowners, 19% didn’t know where to look for FSBO homes.
» MORE: 13 Best FSBO Websites
It’s free to list and sell a for sale by owner home on Zillow. But you could lose a lot of money on your home sale in the long run.
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 hides its FSBO listings. Learn how to maximize your home’s visibility, plus the best alternatives to a purely DIY sale.
Zillow is the most popular website to post a for sale by owner home for free. But savvy home sellers also post their FSBO home on other free websites like Craigslist, Facebook, and Fizber.