When it comes to property management software, how good is the Zillow rental manager? Is it the best, or is there a better option for investors?
Zillow Rental Manager is a known property management software for landlords that also comes with features for buying or selling property. It is a SaaS platform that simplifies the complete rental process—from application and tenant screening to leasing contracts and rental payments.
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Zillow is one of the largest online real estate marketplaces used by real estate professionals, investors, and buyers. It was created as a low-cost tool to list properties directly on Zillow’s network, advertise the listing, screen tenants, and create leases.
Zillow is also a known name in the world of rental property management software. Recently, they started devoting efforts to expanding their scope and adding new features and tools.
Many landlords use the platform to advertise their vacancies. However, they now face notable charges for their listings. Until recently, the rental manager Zillow was free to use, but landlords must now pay $9.99 per unit per week to list their properties on the platform.
Because of the new fees, people are now considering whether they should continue using the platform and whether it’s worth paying to keep their business running. Let’s do a Zillow Rental Manager review and see if we can identify a better alternative to the platform.
Related: Zillow Rent Estimate: The Investor’s Ultimate Guide
What You Need to Know to Know About Zillow Rental Manager
As one of the more popular property management tools out there today, Zillow gives rental property owners a platform to list their properties and have an online presence. Each property listed is well-represented by high-quality photos, detailed descriptions, 3D videos in some cases, and somehow reasonable prices.
At the time of writing, Zillow gets more than 60 million monthly visits on its main website and its two other partners, Trulia and HotPads.
Initially, the Zillow manager offered free listing services to rental property investors and owners. However, the platform started charging fees for all rental property listings about two years ago. This has given many rental property owners much to think about.
And then, in May 2022, listings that were directly posted on the Zillow Rental Manager platform were all free to publish. You could go premium if you wanted to upgrade your listing. We will talk about the pricing in a bit.
However, as a sales platform, it lets you post FSBO (for sale by owner) listings for free, though that may not be the best option. But that’s an entirely different topic from what rent manager Zillow offers its users.
Zillow Rental Manager’s Pricing
Zillow Rental Manager going back to allowing free listings has caught the attention of rental property owners and landlords. Should they go back to the rental property platform? Should they look for alternative apps and make changes to their income property rental strategy?
At the time of writing, Zillow Rent Manager offers no tiered plans. Let’s take a quick look at how much it will cost both tenants and landlords to use the platform:
Costs for Tenants:
- Online Zillow Rent Payment: $9.95 debit card fee, 2.95% credit card fee, and free ACH (bank-to-bank) money transfers.
- Application and tenant screening reports: $29.00
Costs for Landlords:
- Free Listing
- Premium upgrade: $29.99 per unit for 90 days
- Online rent payment
- Online leases (Available only in certain states. Read more about it further in the text under Online Rental Applications and Lease Agreements)
- Free tenant screening with credit and background checks (applicants pay the fees)
One upside is that Zillow does not charge you for off-market property management. Charges are also waived for access to some of its property management tools like the Zillow rent payment and tenant screening. Tenant screening is quite handy because it checks eviction history and income verification of applicants. It saves you from potential headaches.
What Premium Will Get You
What makes Zillow one of the most affordable listing platforms is its free listing services. On the other hand, its premium rate can be costly for those on a tight budget who need a better online presence.
If you do decide to go premium, you will be getting the following:
- Increased exposure
- Improved search results ranking
- Customized insights on pricing and performance
- Priority support
Zillow Feed Connect is necessary for people who use other property management software or rental listing sites and also list on Zillow. It’s what allows third-party listings across Zillow’s real estate network. If you’re subscribed to other platforms and wish to syndicate to Zillow, you will need to pay $2.45 per listing per day.
To sum it up, paying premium rates to list your investment property via Zillow Rental Manager makes good sense if your unit leases quickly and as long as you can afford it. Otherwise, your costs can mount rapidly.
Benefits of Using Zillow Rental Manager
Zillow Rental Manager brings a few useful features and benefits to the table. We’re about to dive into the platform and examine its features that make leasing and renting easier.
Listing across multiple sites used by tenants during their rentals search is crucial to avoiding long vacancy periods. With Zillow Rental Manager, you can publish your listing across its three websites: HotPads, Trulia, and Zillow.
Tenants regularly use the sites to find properties that definitely get you a decent amount of exposure. However, you will miss the opportunity to publish your listings on Zumber, Apartment List, Apartments.com, and Realtor.com®, which are the fastest-growing sites for rental properties today.
For landlords, listing a rental property is free. Upgrading to premium will cost you $29.99 per listing for 90 days, as already mentioned earlier.
Creating a listing is quick and easy and can be done in a matter of minutes. Type in the property details, upload high-quality photos and videos, write a compelling description, and click “Publish.” You also get a free 3D home tour app that comes in really handy if your potential tenants live too far to come and check the listing in person.
As for setting the proper rates, Zillow offers the Rent Zestimate tool to help you set competitive prices for your listings. The Zestimate rental property analysis tool relies on your property’s physical properties and amenities, comparable properties in the market, and other public data to help you set the rental price.
Related: 40 Best Places for Buying Investment Property in 2023
Online Rental Applications and Lease Agreements
After setting an active listing for your income property and uploading high-quality photos of it, you can now expect potential tenants to reach out to you. Now, it’s time to provide them with a rental application to fill out.
Landlords using Zillow Rental Manager get access to free tenant screening reports and rental applications. Tenants are responsible for covering the $29 fee for a credit and background check. It includes looking at an applicant’s rental history and ability to pay regularly.
Users can also create and sign online lease agreements (for all 50 states) without hiring a lawyer. It is possible because Zillow works with local law firms to create lease agreements that comply with local laws and ordinances. The leases can be customized and signed digitally for free.
However, the tool comes with some limitations. It is only available to landlords in Florida, Alabama, Colorado, Missouri, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Indiana, Texas, Tennessee, South Carolina, Oregon, and specific markets in Illinois and California.
Anyone who knows how to invest in real estate also understands the importance of the why. An investment property is also an income property, meaning that it’s a business that generates income. It does so through regular monthly rental payments.
Landlords can use the rental manager Zillow offers to collect rent. The service is free for landlords, while tenants need to pay a $9.95 debit card convenience fee and a 2.95% credit card processing fee. Tenants can also set automated payments that allow automatic rent payments to be withdrawn from their accounts.
Rent Analysis Reports
Rent Zestimate helps with rental property analysis that should guide your rental pricing strategy. To understand rental comps in your designated area, you need to conduct some research. Zillow’s rental market analysis report is an excellent starting point for determining your pricing strategy. However, it is not comprehensive enough.
Start looking for and analyzing the best investment properties in any city and neighborhood of your choice today.
Downsides of Using Zillow Rental Manager
Perhaps the biggest downside of using Zillow is the delay in posting new listings compared to the MLS. Compared to the MLS, Zillow’s listings are published at a later date. This may not be so bad in some slow-moving markets. However, in faster markets, such delays will have you playing catch-up with the competition.
According to the company, most Zestimates fall within 10% of a property’s market value. However, the said 10% can sometimes be the difference worth tens of thousands of dollars. In other words, you should use different methods to determine your prices.
Zillow’s data is also lacking because it feeds off user-reported information and government records.
For instance, what happens if a property has incorrect property tax records or has undergone renovations? Zillow could inaccurately price it, making it lower or higher than its fair market value. The property evaluation process is completely automated, and it can lead to more issues and inaccuracies.
Related: What to Use Instead of Zillow Zestimate to Determine Property Values
You can get basic info about the property, such as square footage, year built, school districts, etc. But without more comprehensive real estate data, you won’t be able to protect your real estate investing efforts fully.
In contrast, real estate website Mashvisor pulls its data from reliable sources such as the MLS, Airbnb, Redfin, Realtor.com, and other similar platforms. If you’re looking for fresh and in-depth information about the traditional housing market or Airbnb pricing fluctuation in a specific area, Mashvisor is the better option.
Related: How to Find Affordable Investment Properties With Huge Potential
Can’t Go Hyperlocal
Zillow doesn’t provide the most comprehensive local resources you would otherwise get with MLS listings. It is still a multinational company (with field offices) and cannot help you with a more detailed search.
With Mashvisor, you get access to both state-level and local data. Do you want to know the price per square foot in the Italian Village in Columbus, Ohio? How about the monthly traditional rental income or cash on cash return in Ridgewood Park in Tampa, Florida? With Mashvisor, you have access to the said information with our rental property calculator and decide whether renting will pay off or not.
Imagine getting hyped up about finding the perfect home only to find out it’s already under contract. It could happen to Zillow users, who become victims of delayed listings. Compared to hiring a real estate agent to list your property in the MLS or using quicker or more accurate tools, Zillow may take days to get the listing processed and posted.
What about the properties that get rented or sold before even hitting the market? Such houses can be bought thanks to a pre-MLS or something similar, but the thing is – they go under contract without making it online. And since they’re on the market for a very short time, they probably won’t even make it to Zillow’s database.
Mashvisor gives its users access to off-market properties by leaving you with the owner’s data, including their phone number or email so that you can reach out to them directly.
Related: Rentometer App: Should Real Estate Investors Use It to Find Rental Comps?
Summary of Pros and Cons of Zillow Rental Manager
To summarize the points made, here are the pros and cons of using Zillow Rental Manager.
- Relatively efficient and quick
- Has a mobile app
- Basic information is readily available
- Cost-efficient for people with enough time to rent and personally manage each one of their properties
- Doesn’t provide real protection against non-paying tenants
- Cannot conduct personal interviews with potential renters and cannot measure the human interaction and connection
- May not offer lease signing options (depending on the state you live in)
- No reliable assistance in the case of eviction
- The landlord still does most of the work
The Best Choice for Real Estate Investors
If you’re interested in long-term or short-term rentals, Mashvisor offers excellent tools and the latest data to help you make informed investment decisions. The tools we offer are numerous, but they all work cohesively to make rental market analysis and calculating the potential return on investment less demanding and time-consuming.
If you operate several properties and have sufficient experience with real estate investing, the Zillow Rental Manager cost may compel you to look for alternatives. Paying additional fees whenever you’d like to add a new active listing will cost you more than Mashvisor’s Professional Plan at $74.99 per month.
Ideal for Newbies
If you’re just learning about how to invest in real estate and have few to no properties, Mashvisor is an excellent and cost-effective choice for getting educated. The platform’s content-rich real estate blog is there to help you start and guide you through the world of real estate. And our tools are there to enable you to put that knowledge into action.
Find Promising Investment Properties and Analyze Their Investment Potential
Finding the right location makes all the difference in the world of real estate investing. For this reason, Mashvisor has developed tools that will make finding and analyzing rental markets faster and easier.
With Mashvisor’s Market Finder, you’ll be able to analyze any real estate market across the entire U.S. This tool gives you an overview of the different rental markets in a given area, giving you a more in-depth understanding of how they stack up against each other.
This tool is powered by an intelligent AI that gives a Mashmeter Score to each neighborhood depending on the search filters you use.
Investment Property Calculator
However, finding a suitable property in a top location for residential real estate investments is only half of the work. You still need to determine if it offers positive cash flow potential with a high return on investment.
With our rental property calculator, you can conduct neighborhood analysis to check the median home prices, rental income, occupancy rates, and other key metrics. Mashvisor’s investment property calculator helps you do the math seamlessly and points you to markets that will help you get the numbers you want.
Get access to Mashvisor’s database, Market Finder, and other tools to get you on your way to a thriving real estate investing career. Sign up to get your 7-day free trial today.
Analyze Your Property’s Return on Investment and Create the Most Optimal Rental Strategy
The data Mashvisor uses is much more comprehensive and detailed than Zillow’s, with the rental property calculator developed specifically for investors and renters. And yes, the data is accurate and can go hyperlocal. You can use it to ensure you invest in a property with high returns.
The numbers will also dictate your pricing for the property and help you decide whether you should rent it as a long-term or short-term rental. A successful real estate investment depends both on location and the rental strategy.
As for rental strategies, one of the most challenging things about starting an Airbnb business is setting competitive nightly rates. Setting reasonable yet competitive Airbnb rates can be pretty tricky as it is affected by several factors, including seasonality and tourism.
The good news is that Mashvisor has created an intelligent pricing app to help vacation rental owners and hosts come up with reasonable and competitive pricing. The Dynamic Pricing tool lets short term rental owners and hosts manage their properties in a more efficient and less time-consuming way.
The tool works very well with an Airbnb calculator. It analyzes historical market data such as pricing history, rental comps, and local community events, among others. It then gives its recommendations which you can customize according to your liking. The automation takes a huge load off your shoulders, while the flexibility allows you to optimize your rental income.
Managing a vacation rental has never been easier, thanks to Mashvisor’s Dynamic Pricing feature.
Invest in Off-Market Properties
Mashvisor refreshes its database in almost real time. It also offers homeowners information, in case you need it. The website allows you to find and invest in off-market properties with better prices, less competition, and more choices.
Related: 16 Best Ways to Find Off Market Properties
While Zillow remains one of the top real estate sites today, it is not without its flaws. As an investor, you must also give careful thought to which platform you will use. Choosing the right app or website is a matter of answering the question, “Will this help me achieve my investment goals?”
The right platform will give you all the information and tools you need to reach your goals as an investor.
We hope our Zillow Rental Manager review clarified any confusion about its power and potential for real estate investors. Bringing in leads on Zillow is no longer what it used to be. Several alternatives are available, offering services far more comprehensive at a lower cost.
We highly recommend you analyze your real estate endeavors and seriously think about your priorities first when deciding if listing on Zillow pays off in the long run.
If you want a better alternative to Zillow, Mashvisor comes with easy-to-use tools, detailed analytics, and a massive up-to-date database. It will help you locate the most profitable markets for rental property investment and give you the right tools to calculate your ROI and revenue.
If you need help analyzing the profitability of certain investment properties, schedule a demo with Mashvisor today to get access to the best real estate data and tools.