Empowering Wisconsin homeowners: The case for allowing homeowners to sell a home on their own 

Zillow is committed to creating transparency and access in real estate to make home a reality for more people.

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Across the country, in communities large and small, homes are listed and sold every day. While most homeowners turn to a trusted real estate professional to help sell their property, a small share of homeowners choose to sell their home by themselves, without a professional. 

But that doesn’t happen in Wisconsin, where the choice between using an agent or selling one’s own home is largely unavailable to residents. Since 2021, interpretation of Wisconsin state law blocks homeowners from advertising their homes “For Sale by Owner” (FSBO) on Zillow. That means if you want to hang a virtual “For Sale by Owner” sign on a home in the Badger State, you’re limited to social media sites or message boards instead of Zillow, which draws more than 200 million home shoppers to our site every month.  

The FSBO option offers homeowners the flexibility and choice to sell a home on their terms and timeline. A seller who takes this route stands to save some money in agent fees — in exchange for doing all the heavy lifting that otherwise would be done by a real estate agent and a brokerage.

Getting a property listed online is critical for these sellers, because it helps them get their home in front of as many potential buyers as possible. Gone are the days of relying only on a sign in the front yard or an ad in the newspaper. 

Wisconsin is unique when it comes to this restriction. The interpretation of this obscure law hurts homeowners. And it could also hurt potential buyers by preventing them from ever seeing a home that is for sale by an owner. 

When Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed a bill in his state earlier this year reversing similar restrictions, the move was heralded not only by independent sellers, but by real estate agents as well. “It was common sense,” a member of the Montana Association of Realtors told the Missoulian in May when asked about the change in state law to reinstate FSBOs on Zillow’s platform. 

Why is the real estate industry finding common ground on this issue? Our research shows that FSBO home sellers are a modest but consistent part of the real estate landscape, making up about 4%–6% of all monthly for-sale listings nationwide. And in Wisconsin, nearly half of all FSBO listings originate from either suburban or rural areas.  

We also found that nationally, FSBO listings are more likely to be pursued by families with more limited means and are found in less pricey markets. This tells us that FSBO sellers and buyers are budget-conscious and trying to find cost-effective ways to sell and buy. 

At Zillow, we are committed to creating transparency and access in real estate to make home a reality for more and more people. Keeping homes off platforms like Zillow runs counter to this vision and puts home buyers and sellers at a disadvantage by limiting consumer choice and taking options off the table.

We can change this.

Wisconsin lawmakers could help create more consumer choice by clarifying state regulations so that FSBO service can be restored to sites like Zillow, making it easier for home sellers to advertise their properties for sale. 

Home sellers and shoppers would see a full picture of what is for sale in a community without any harm to real estate professionals. From years of experience and research, we know that FSBOs make up a small portion of real estate transactions, even in states where these properties are listed online. It’s simply the right thing to do and a win for everyone. 

Wisconsin home buyers and sellers deserve to have the same options that consumers have in Minnesota, Illinois, Florida or Arizona. By gaining those choices, they will have the power to make the right decision for their families in what is often the most important financial decision they will make. Let’s figure this out together! 

If you are a Wisconsin homeowner who is interested in learning more about how you can help our efforts to allow you to sell your home on our platform, or if you would like to share your FSBO story, reach out to us at WisconsinFSBO@zillowgroup.com. And, if you are a Wisconsin voter, you can reach out to your elected official here.