Wondering if you can fill your rental with tenants faster with Zillow Rent? Let’s explore the platform in-depth to answer that question.
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There are hundreds of listing websites, but success is not guaranteed on any of them. You can pick a website that has a pleasant design and doesn’t ask for much in terms of pricing, but if it doesn’t have enough visitors, it spells trouble. You can also spend hundreds of dollars on advertising but with little to no traffic, you’re guaranteed to wait for months with no tenants in sight.
Zillow is one of the listing platforms that can solve that problem. According to several estimates, Zillow has over 30 million monthly page views. Most of those people are tenants ready to explore your listing.
However, not all landlords and investment companies trust Zillow to find clients for them. Whether you’re a seasoned real estate investor or just figuring out how to invest in real estate, this guide will walk you through the pros and cons of the rental giant.
What Is Zillow?
Zillow is not just a rental platform, it’s a real estate ecosystem that has something for everyone. But naturally, the feature landlords will be interested in the most is the rental platform. Zillow, first and foremost, is a place where you can list your property up for rent or find a place to live if you’re a tenant. This feature is free for tenants, but landlords have to pay either a flat fee or a weekly one to keep their listings online.
Zillow Rent, the other side of the platform, provides rent-related services to both tenants and landlords. As a tenant, you can find a real estate agent or home improvement professional. As a landlord, you can find a home inspector, a mortgage expert, and even screen your tenant online. Both participants can even manage rental payments through the platform.
With all that said, Zillow is far from perfect, and being one of the largest rental platforms means that not all processes can be fixed in time. Let’s take a deeper look at each of the most prominent Zillow features before we get down to the pros and cons.
Main Zillow Features
Zillow started as a rental platform that made money on ads as did many of its competitors. Now that it has grown into a giant of real estate with more than 36 million visitors per month, Zillow has expanded to include a lot more features.
One of the key features that differentiate Zillow from its competitors is a platform that allows users to sell and buy investment properties. The platform has thousands of listings all over the US, and even in the most rural areas, you can find a decent home to buy either for flipping or for renting out.
In fact, Zillow itself was interested in the home sale part of the platform because up until recently, the company has been flipping houses listed on its platform. This aggressive iBuying strategy has not worked for Zillow as of Autumn 2021. That’s good news for investors because now you don’t have to compete with the owner of the platform for rental units.
One of the features of the platform that benefits from this the most is listings by the owners. For sale by owner (FSBO) listings are amazing for investors and agents because not only can you save money on agent fees, but you also have much higher chances of negotiating a better deal.
The search tools Zillow provides are pretty standard for a rental website: it allows you to narrow down the area of your search on the interactive map and provides short information on all listings found. You can also see nearby schools on the map, but other infrastructure objects are inaccessible.
Estimating Rental Income
The platform does have some data on each listing and provides analytics. For example, many of the data points provided by Zillow rental estimate like records about previous transactions and tax records are useful. But as many users concur, it is not the most robust of its features.
However, there’s not enough data for in-house analysis and its Zestimate feature gives a very rough idea of what the home’s true worth is. If you’re looking for Zillow homes for sale, you’re going to do some analytics on your own to complement Zillow market data.
Zestimate is a Zillow feature that estimates the real market value of the listing based on neighborhood data and facts about the property. That may be great for an investor looking for a very rough approximation of what the listing price should be, but it’s in no way real estate comps.
The most important thing about purchasing a home to turn it into a rental is knowing the rental comps for both traditional listings and Airbnb rent. If the estimated occupancy rate is too low in the area, you probably won’t make a profit on a home even if you purchase it at a bargain price.
If you find that Zillow rent estimate is below your expectations, give Mashvisor a try. This platform analyzes data from thousands of Airbnb and traditional listings to give its users accurate real estate comps. As a result, you can get access to statistics like estimated occupancy rate for either form of rent, cash on cash return, cap rate, and more.
The benefits of Zillow Rent for tenants are quite straightforward. It’s one of the biggest platforms in the US that not only attracts native Zillow rentals listings but also gathers data from hundreds of local MLS. Having the landlords pay weekly fees for active listings also increases the chances of them deleting listings once they’re rented out. The result is tenants having access to fresh and up-to-date offers.
The platform shows data on each rental like neighborhood walkability score and nearby schools’ performance. On top of that, tenants have the option to pay rent via Zillow to avoid misunderstandings with their landlord.
From the landlord’s side, Zillow Rental Manager allows them to get access to the 36 million monthly visitors and rent out their unit fast. The platform is a bit on the side of the advertiser and does not show FSOB listings that are often free in the default search. Property owners that do not have an agent will only get a fraction of the visitors, so it’s best to get an agent.
Real estate agents and owners who are willing to pay Zillow Rent to appear in search are likely to receive their first lead within a week. The platform offers to make listing renewals free if the user doesn’t receive a single message about the listing in the first week.
Zillow aspires to be a well-rounded real estate platform and provides its users with a list of mortgage and HELOC lenders. If you’re a small investor who’s looking for their first investment property, you can get both the property and the mortgage for it on Zillow.
All you have to do to get a quote from one of the lenders approved by Zillow is to fill out a short questionnaire and wait for a call or an email. Sure, it’s not guaranteed that you’re going to get a better deal than elsewhere, but it’s worth having a couple of quotes from lenders.
Real Estate Professionals
Zillow went so far with diversifying its offers in the world of real estate that it has a platform that hosts all kinds of home improvement professionals: from home builders and renovators to home inspectors and property managers. If you deal with real estate, the odds are you can find most people you need for business on Zillow.
The information on the professionals in all fields is pretty basic, featuring an introduction written up by them, their certifications, and user reviews. It may not be as detailed as it would on a specialized platform, but the main factor that attracts users is being able to find an expert fast.
Is Zillow Rent Good for Landlords?
Zillow Rent is a great platform because it offers a very large exposure for your listings. Not only will they be featured on Zillow, but they will also be posted on two other platforms owned by the company, namely HotPads and Trulia. These three combined have over 35 million visitors per month, most of whom are looking for rentals.
But that number of potential leads comes at a price. The first listing for every account is free until it expires, typically within 30 days. All listings that follow require paying a fee to the platform. The fees differ depending on the state you’re in. The most common pricing model is $9.99 per listing per week. Users in some states can pay a reduced fee of $4.99.
Users who are listing properties from select areas in certain states can pay a flat fee instead of the weekly one. If your listing qualifies, instead of paying Zillow every week, you pay a fee of $29.99, $19.99, or $14.99. The listing is going to be live for 90 days. After it expires, you need to pay another flat fee.
This is done because Zillow understands that each market is different, so it’s only fair to charge listings from hot markets a higher fee and be a bit more lenient to markets that are underperforming. The platform goes even further: if your listing that is paid for weekly does not attract a single lead in the first week, it’s going to be free until you get one.
The drawbacks of Zillow come from the same place that its strongest sides. Since it’s a large platform with millions of visitors, tenants contact dozens of listings without the intention to actually rent. Some users of the platform report receiving leads that are unresponsive.
Zillow Pros and Cons for Landlords
Even though Zillow is the largest platform in terms of traffic, it’s not without downsides. Let’s look at Zillow pros and cons for landlords.
- Exposure to over 30 million monthly visitors
- One free listing—enough for FSBO landlords
- An ecosystem of rental tools
- The possibility of buying and renting a property on Zillow
- The possibility of gathering rent payments directly on Zillow
- High weekly fees
- Sometimes, leads are unresponsive
How to Make Money on Zillow With Mashvisor
Zillow does provide access to millions of visitors, but don’t indulge in the idea that this automatically means you’re getting a tenant in a week. Each listing competes against hundreds if not thousands of others, and advertising on Zillow doesn’t solve the problem.
What solves the problem is owning a rental unit that attracts leads with or without ads. A property that looks good, is situated in a place with good infrastructure, and is optimally priced. Without a suitable rental, whether you’re working with traditional renting or Airbnb, you will have trouble finding clients on Zillow or anywhere else.
How do you get a property like that? Zillow’s Zestimate tool offers only extremely basic analytics when it comes to purchasing a rental property. A much better alternative is finding a rental home with Mashvisor.
Mashvisor collects data from MLS databases all over the US to provide users with accurate rental comps. This provides an easy way to access aggregate data on each property without having to do any data mining on your own.
With Mashvisor, you can see mortgage rates, occupancy rates depending on the neighborhood, and an approximate cap rate. Use rental property calculator to see what the cash on cash return is going to be with your mortgage conditions.
If you did not yet make a decision on what area you want to buy a property in, use Mashvisor’s Property Finder to find cities with the highest cap rate or cash on cash return. Then, search for properties in up to five cities.
This platform can walk you through every stage of your rental business journey, from deciding where to buy property to finalizing the deal with the owner. Mashvisor can also be used as a customer management system and provides a database of seller’s contacts on each property.
Final Word on Zillow Rent
Zillow, together with Trulia and HotPads, is an amazing platform for landlords because of the sheer number of visitors you’re going to be exposed to. But it’s useless if your rental is situated in a place that doesn’t have jobs and people moving in.