Pros and Cons of Listing For Sale By Owner on Zillow

The PropertyClub Team
May 8th 2020
Review the pros and cons of Zillow For Sale By Owner. Learn all about listing a house FSBO, if there are costs or fees, and how to get on the MLS, with this comprehensive guide.

If you’re researching the best ways to get started selling your home, you’ve probably considered a real estate agent. Zillow For Sale By Owner (FSBO) listings are an alternative offered by Zillow, the dominant player in online real estate transactions.

Whether you’re trying to save time, money, or simply manage the process of listing and selling your home without any professional help, FSBO listings are a modern solution to your desire to bypass real estate agents altogether. And best of all, listing your place for sale by owner on Zillow is free!

What is Zillow For Sale By Owner?

Zillow for sale by owner (FSBO for short), simply means listing your home for sale on Zillow. 

Zillow is an aggregate site for online real estate listings and has accrued more than 70% of all online search traffic related to real estate. This means that it’s the number one stop for anyone who is thinking about buying or selling a house online.

Their FSBO listing method is a way for you to sell your house on Zillow without the help of a professional real estate agent. This means that every aspect of marketing and selling your home– from the listing, pricing, negotiating, staging, and closing, to the actual paperwork required – will be your sole responsibility. 

Does Zillow charge to list for sale by owner? 

You’ll be happy to know that there are no fees to list your house on Zillow for sale by owner, as the company aims to make the process as easy for you as possible. It also means that they’ll monetize your listing in other ways, which we’ll discuss later. And before you ask, no, Zillow does not charge you a commission, although they will do their best to introduce you to a buyer that’s working with one of their buyer broker partners, who will expect to collect a fee. So while listing and selling on Zillow is free, you may end up paying a commission to a buyer who is working with an agent. 

Not having to worry about fees for an FSBO listing should be a massive plus for anyone who wants to manage their own listing. This is especially attractive considering that other for sale by owner and flat-fee MLS marketing services charge an upfront fee. 

Will your home be on the local MLS if you list FSBO on Zillow? 

One of the reasons many sellers decide to pay to list on a FSBO website is that the majority of these sites will also get your home on the local MLS (short for multiple listing service). Most FSBO websites get minimal website traffic and rely on creating an MLS listing to help you sell your home, as by listing on the MLS, all the local buyer agents and brokers will be able to see that the property is listed for sale. To do this these websites need to have a brokerage license or partner with a local brokerage as you typically need to sign a listing agreement with a broker to get on the MLS. 

When you create a for sale by owner listing on Zillow, you won’t be on the local MLS, but that won’t matter much as Zillow doesn’t need to get your listing in front of realtors since they already have the majority of homebuyers visiting their site. Realtors also generally buy weekly FSBO lists and also use Zillow FSBO as a prospecting tool, so most will find your home even if it’s not on the local multiple listing service. 

Why use FSBO?

Those who know the benefits in time and stress of hiring a real estate agent, as well as those worried about messing up an important contract or legal procedure, are probably wondering why anyone would use FSBO to sell their house.

The main draw is money – by selling it yourself, you can avoid the standard commission fee when you hire a real estate agent (usually 6-7% of the sale). The decision of whether you should use an FSBO listing comes down to which you think will make you more money: pocketing that 6% commission or using the real estate agent’s expertise to get you a better price on the house.

In addition to saving that commission, there are a few other reasons some sellers choose to use Zillow For Sale by Owner to sell their house.

Control

The main reason to learn how to list FSBO on Zillow is to take control of your property listing. You will need to do the research of a real estate agent to figure out exactly what your house is worth in the current market. This may include inspections and appraisals – finding out the market value from a professional should be one of your first goals.

This control is appealing to a lot of sellers, especially if they are personally attached to the home in question and don’t believe that a real estate agent will fight for the right price.

This control also applies to your showings when they eventually happen. You don’t have to wait for your agent to be available to show your home at the time that suits the buyer and you don’t have to worry about being notified of a last-minute showing when your house isn’t ready.

With an FSBO listing, you’re in charge.

Cost

You may not think that a real estate agent will get you the price your house deserves. Whether you think they’re going to rush the sale, or that they don’t value the house emotionally like you do, you may want to take charge of pricing the home yourself.

This is especially true if you’re willing to wait for a high price compared to your home’s market value, which a real estate agent will warn against to try and push the sale through. If you have the patience and inclination to wait for a better offer, you may want to save the commission fee by using a Zillow For Sale By Owner listing. At the end of the day, it's free to list a for sale by owner property on Zillow, while a realtor will charge a commission that is generally around 5-6%. 

Your expertise

No matter how well-researched your real estate expert is, they won’t have as much knowledge of your neighborhood as you do. Being able to talk to your potential buyers in detail about your neighborhood’s benefits and the experience of living in your house can be a big plus for your buyers’ confidence.

A word of caution:

Opting to list your house by an FSBO listing on Zillow comes with a few risks, the most obvious of which is that you don’t have access to a real estate agent’s expertise when deciding how to price and negotiate your listing – you have to do this yourself. Mispricing the home could mean trouble and a difficult time finding a buyer. If this is a concern you may want to try a Zillow make me move listing instead of going the for sale by owner route. 

The other main issue you might face is that Zillow’s core business model is to collect buyers’ personal information and sell it to real estate brokers. This means that even though it’s free to list your home for sale by owner on Zillow, most buyers will be directed to a buyer broker who will expect to be compensated, meaning there is a hidden cost. 

The Takeaway

There are many reasons you may choose to pursue an FSBO listing on Zillow as opposed to seeking out a licensed real estate agent. These may include saving money on the commission fee, taking control of the pricing and showings yourself, or catering the timetable of your sale to your busy schedule.

Even though there are some drawbacks involved, Zillow offers you a chance to market a FSBO listing for free, which is a fantastic deal. You can manage your pricing and listing while taking advantage of their massive user base to get your listing out there where potential buyers can easily see it.

Whether you’re trying to save money or you’re protective of the value of your family home, going the for sale by owner route on Zillow can be more attractive than a real estate agent for selling your house. Just use these guidelines to make sure you know what you’re getting into and what you should do to prepare.