5 Things To Think About Before Selling Your Home on Zillow

Kevin McDonald
Published on June 13, 2017

5 Things To Think About Before Selling Your Home on Zillow

Selling your home on Zillow is said to be a great way to save thousands of dollars when you do decide to sell. Some Realtors® charge anywhere up to 6% of the sales price – that’s $30,000 on a $500,000 home, so there may be some truth to that.

Acting as your own seller’s agent will surely be worth the savings, right? Well, I’m somewhat biased – I think every home seller in Los Angeles area should hire me because I’m amazing, ha. But in all honesty, here are five reasons why you might want to think twice before you try to selling your home on Zillow by owner:

  1. Buyers’ agents may not want to show your property to their clients.

When a Realtor® sees someone selling a home on Zillow, we know there isn’t a professional on the other side of the transaction, which can mean a bunch of headaches for everyone. For sale by owner (FSBO) sellers are sometimes viewed as unrealistic, unreasonable and often difficult to work with. To combat that, make sure to cooperate with buyers’ agents, which will include paying a commission.  There are no fees for selling your home on Zillow, so the expenses are still less than a traditional sale.

In today’s market, to get the highest and best price on your listing, your goal should be to increase the exposure to real estate agents who work with homebuyers. Nearly 90% of active homebuyers are working with an agent, so why leave them out??  The question you should really be asking yourself is if the increased exposure on listing with an agent will outweigh the percentage of commission charged.

On top of that, you’d probably be paying a buyer’s agent commission anyway, so really what you’re saving when selling your home on Zillow by owner is around less than 3% of the sales price.  Let’s break down the math on that:

$400,000 sales price

2.5% payable to a buyers agent= $10,000

2.5% payable to listing agent (your “savings” by listing on Zillow)= $10,000

So at the end of the day, by you selling your home on Zillow by owner, you’re looking for a savings of roughly $10,000.  Now ask yourself – if you listed your property with a Realtor with an effective marketing plan, like myself, could I increase your gross sales price by providing that extra exposure?

It’s not your full-time job.

Phone calls, emails, text messages, scheduling showings – there’s a lot that goes into selling your home on Zillow, or anywhere for that matter. When working a full-time job elsewhere, the many tasks involved can become more of a burden than the cost to hire a professional. A Realtor® will take on all of those tasks, and any others and make sure your home has maximum exposure on the market.

For example, I’ve called homeowners trying to sell their house themselves, and trying to get my clients into the property was like pulling teeth!  The sellers were never available to show the house. As a matter of fact we never able to see it, it and my clients bought something else. The point of that story is that you never know when a buyer is going to request the next showing, so you need to be available 24/7 to take advantage of that.  Not being available to show it only increases overall market time of a property, which is no good.

It’s much harder to keep your emotions out of the transaction.

If you list the top 5 most stressful moments in your life, buying and selling a home will most likely appear in the list. Using an agent opposed to selling your home on Zillow can help insulate you from the emotional highs and lows throughout the transaction. Repeated rejections, overzealous follow-up, and possibly lack of interest from potential buyers can have an ill effect on your usually normal life. Having an advocate like a Realtor® who is trained to navigate these situations can make the transition much easier.

Buyers are going to come in and want to change many of the things you loved in your home.  What if they wanted to tear that wall out that you measured your kids on?  Don’t let those memories get the most of you, especially in negotiations.  You had your time in the house, now it’s someone else’s turn. This is a business decision and you need to stay focused on the numbers for your next transition to create new memories.

Here’s a small portion of the things I need to do for my clients once we get into contract.

Agents have a much more in-depth marketing plan than you will.

Zillow.com is the number 1 real estate website, and averages more than 30 million unique visits per month. Knowing that, any good marketing plan needs to include that site. In order to utilize realtor.comRedfin, and Yahoo! Real Estate, you will need to use an agent, as these sites pull information directly from the multiple listing service (MLS). Agents also have exclusive access to premier marketing packages, which aren’t available to the public which include things such as Social Media advertising, effective point of sale advertising and use of an agent’s network of buyers and agents with buyers if they sell heavily in your area.

Selling your home on Zillow is a great place to start, but if you decide to hire an agent please take this advice. There is a difference in who you hire. In today’s market, it’s more important than ever to hire the right agent to sell your home. The truth is there are some agents out there that will simply list your home on the MLS and put a sign in the yard. That is not a marketing plan, and is why I suggest grilling every real estate agent about their marketing plan before making any decisions

Negotiations Suck.

Even if you have a sales background, you probably don’t have real estate sales background – and it’s a totally different animal. Remember those emotions? Here’s where they really come in to play. You finally accept an offer (for an average of $40k less and in 19 more days than listing with a Realtor®) and then you have to be prepared to deal with:

  • The buyer who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The home inspectors who work for the buyer and will always find something wrong with the house
  • The appraiser if there is a question of value

Now don’t get me wrong – you absolutely can be successful at selling your home on Zillow without an agent. It is very possible, and will be quite a rewarding (and cost saving) experience. I like to compare it to winning the lottery though – it will either be a great achievement or very expensive experience.

If you can remember this quote and stay within these two extremes you will do well and can get top dollar for your house:

“Nobody wants to buy the house that sat on the market forever, but everybody wants to buy the house that everybody else wants to buy.”

When you can “position” your home for sale in between this quote you will sell quickly, and for what you want to sell it for.

In closing, I will share my best advice on selling your home on Zillow:


Hire a professional.