How to Optimize Your Zillow For Sale By Owner Listing

Tom here (co-founder of HomeBay). I have over a billion dollars in sales experience, and I’m frequently asked by home sellers what can be done to improve their real estate listing. Today, I spoke with a lot owner who has his land listed on the for sale by owner section of Zillow. He was looking for guidance on how to improve his listing. My feedback is summarized below. If you have a FSBO or land lot listed on Zillow, these suggestions will help you too, so please follow along.


Don’t Limit Yourself to Zillow:
Most people don’t know that while Zillow is massive, its traffic represents only 21% of buyer searches. Also, land/lots typically don’t get nearly as many searches as houses or condos. To increase exposure, be sure your home or lot is also listed on the MLS,, Trulia, Redfin and local agent sites. You can list with HomeBay for free and only pay if your property sells. The total cost to you is only $250 at closing, so taking this step will get you broad exposure with no risk.

Avoid Losing Buyer Leads to Zillow Agent Ads:
Do you see how the “Get More Information” section on the right side of the screenshot below puts the owner at the bottom of a contact list, beneath three real estate agents? Do you also see how the default check is next to an agent, not the homeowner, even though it’s a for sale by owner listing? Why does that happen? zillow-fsbo-listing.png

Zillow encourages buyers to contact agents, not owners, because Zillow makes money by selling advertising space to realtors. The problem is, it’s not in the owner’s best interest to have random agents connected to their for sale by owner listing. These agents are in the business of promoting their listings, not necessarily yours.

To solve this problem, owners with FSBO listings on Zillow should put their contact information in their listing description. I’ll show you exactly what this should look like in my next suggestion.

Turn a Critical Eye to Your Listing Description:
How do you improve a listing description? Avoid vague descriptions. Instead, focus on owner contact information, the location of your land or property and any benefits of the area, like buildability. Also, provide specific information on nearby schools, access to local work spaces and any nearby hot spots. Lastly, paint a picture with your words of what it would be like to live in that area. As an example, check out the changes I suggested for this listing below.

Before Parcel owned in family for 40 years now for sale, west of Skyline Blvd. near dead end of Native Sons Rd. (see map). The lot (5.29 Acres ) has a new drilled well without pump, has passed county perk tests, and is legally buildable with several potential house sites. It is adjacent to a parcel owned by an open space trust that will never be built upon. The area is a quiet, very secluded, serene area, with very little auto traffic, filled with tall Redwoods, ferns, trails and wildlife.

Always start your description by providing your contact information and skip unnecessary details. Be sure to avoid negative words like dead end (use cul-de-sac instead). In the meat of your description, focus on specific positives; explain why the land is great for building, call out the privacy and beauty of the land and highlight easy access to nearby metro areas.

After Please contact owner directly at (###) ###-####. Buildable, gentle sloped 5.29 acres near end of cul-de-sac on Native Sons Road. Live in a forest of redwoods, yet have an easy commute to Silicon Valley. Great access to Skyline Blvd. and highways 89, 92 and 280. Top-rated Woodside schools and an area where homes sell for multi-millions. Newly drilled well on property has passed county perk tests. Utilities are nearby. Adjacent to open space trust that will never be built upon. Live the dream.

Invest in Professional Photos:
Professional pictures, which cost approximately $150 in this area of California, would be great. This section of California is about as beautiful as it gets, so let your lot speak for itself. A professional could take photos that both emphasize the beauty of the land and the gentle slope of the lot, which is a big factor in terms of buildability. If you have a parcel map, that would also be a great addition to include in your listing.

Follow these tips to optimize your Zillow FSBO listing, get more buyer traffic and generate offers. If you would like me to give you advice on your listing, please ping me in the comments below.

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