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This Scam Affects Both Buyers and Sellers

The innocent act of posting a for-sale-by-owner ad on Zillow, or even contacting one as a prospective buyer, may obligate you to pay a buyer broker's fee!


Sellers:  Zillow is hijacking your leads, and selling them to Real Estate Agents.

If an interested buyer tries to contact you on Zillow and an agent calls them... you will likely never hear from that buyer. You're out of the loop! The agent doesn't know your property, yet is pretending to "represent" it! Worse, the agent may steer your prospective buyers to their agency listings instead, where their agency will make the full 6% commission (i.e. not just the buyer agent's split).



Here's how the scam works: Homesellers post an ad on Zillow to sell their home, believing is it for sale by owner.  Zillow, however, steers any buyer emails to agents first.  Your ad has been used as bait to trick unsuspecting buyers into hiring an agent to see your property.  Once the buyer decides they want your house, the buyer's agent will expect to be paid their commission (typically up to 3%). What's the problem with this? Buyers usually don't have the funds to pay the buyer agent's commission fee, so it falls to you, the seller -- if you want this deal to work out -- to pony up the funds out of the "proceeds of the sale".

Sneaky on the part of Zillow and the agents. Deceptive at best, Bait and Switch...sure. Fradulent? decide. The best advice when you are faced with scammers: BE WARY!  This Scam Affects Both Buyers and Seller


Below - Screen shot from a recent for sale by owner ad on zillow. The ad is clearly indicated 'for sale by owner', yet the contacts are real estate agents. Furthermore, attempts to unselect the agent checkbox are unsuccessful as agents will still call you after an email is purportedly sent only to the seller. What a scam!  Try it for yourself, see what happens.



Buyers: Be careful contacting sellers you think are for sale by owner on Zillow. Any email inquiry you send is now a paper trail that can cost you a commission if you buy that home, or any other!!  When agents contact you asking you if you'd like to see that property, just say no -- that you want to deal directly with the owner. Tip:  Don't sign any agreement giving the agent the exclusive right to represent you as a buyer.



Agents are stealing your leads from zillow. If a buyer contacts you on zillow and an agent calls them...they will not be interested in your property any longer. They will sense a SCAM...they will think your property is listed! GET OFF ZILLOW! Guess what? There is no way to delete your ad from zillow. There are two options offered: designate it as Sold or off market. Both options derail your efforts to sell. Again, zillow works for the agents...why would they provide a free service to FSBOs unless it was a trick?
If you are caught in this trick, simply make your property unrecognizable. Delete the photos, description, change the price to $1 or $1,000,000. This way it can't hurt you any longer.


Innocent buyers and sellers aren't the only ones being scammed by Zillow. Agents are misled as well. To see the full picture, google Consumer Affairs and Zillow.


Questions? Call or email.



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