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Zillow Adds Rentals. And more.

If I were Craig Newmark — the “Craig” in that little site known as CraigsList — I’d be looking over my shoulder with my eye on Seattle.

There lies the corporate home of Zillow, where they just rolled out the latest addition to the second most visited real estate web site on the planet (after PhoenixRealEstateGuy.com Realtor.com).

Zillow has entered the rentalz market. (Sorry, “rentalz” makes better use of the “Z” than zentals.)

Yessir, now in addition to seeing homes for sale, recent sales, and the goofy Make Me Move “listings” you’ll soon see little purple house icons reflecting homes available for rent.

rentals

Compare that slick, polished and useful search interface to a sample from the aforementioned CraigsList and you’ll see why I think Craig should be a little concerned.

cl snip
CraigsList is cool in a Web 0.5, 1980’s kind of way. But have you ever tried to really find anything there? As Jim Duncan  points out, CL gets a ton of traffic, but the user interface is beyond annoying.

So other than a spiffy (and usable) search, what is Zillow bringing to the table with this entry into the rental dance?

  • A landlord, property manager or rental listing agent can get their rental listed on Zillow for $9.95 for 180 days (if you are a landlord and you need more than six months to lease a home, you might want to consider another investing strategy. I recommend savings bonds).
  • Rental listings will be “featured” — displayed at the top of the page. Zillow officials claim featured listings get six times the exposure of non-featured listings. A thought just came across my mind though (it happens). If all rental listings are featured, then what difference does it make? Best I can tell, there is no way to have an non-featured rental listing. Unless home search and rental search results are co-mingled…
  • Speaking of co-mingling, Zillow mentioned on a call yesterday that something like 25% of potential home buyers are also considering renting. Zillows new search allows people to search both rentals and for sale listings and allows search by monthly payment. This appears to be a unique twist in the home search space (that others are sure to join in on).

Here’s my beef with searching by monthly payment. Currently the behind the scenes math calculates a monthly payment based on a 30-year fixed rate loan with 20% down. Rates are pulled from Zillow’s mortgage side. But we all know rates can vary based on multiple factors. And down payment amount vary wildly. Toss in things like HOA fees, PAD fees, and Who Knows What fees and I’m thinking the “search by monthly payment” feature could provide some false results, if not false hope.

“But Zillow said my monthly payment would be $X if I bought this house,” may join the chorus of, “Are you effing kidding me? The Zestimate says my home is worth WAY more than you say it is!”

And speaking of Zestimates, this bodes the question, will Zillow try to Zestify (term (C) Kris Berg) rentals? It wasn’t discussed on the conference call I attended, as I wasn’t as smart as Kris and Jim and failed to ask. But apparently on an earlier call the question was posed and David Gibbons, Zillow’s Director of Community Relations, said that rental Zestimates will not be a part of the launch.

Not. Part. Of. The. Launch. That could be extrapolated into, “maybe we’ll do that when we collect enough data”. Who knows.

In other news, Zillow is also removing the free listings option for manually entered home listings. All listings not provided via syndication or a feed will incur a charge of $9.95 for a six month listing. Of note though is these listings will all be featured, and should enjoy increased exposure over the “old” free listing. Given the multitude of syndication options out there (via which you can still get your listings to Zillow for free), it’s hard to see how anyone could complain about this. But I assure you they will.

There’s more, but this is the gist of it. Kris Berg has her usual brilliant take, and Jim Duncan has a nice compilation of other posts as well. I’m sure there are more floating about the RE blogiverse.

Disclosure for the Blog Police: Zillow.com has some function in hosting/managing this very blog you are reading. But I have received absolutely zero compensation of any form for opining here. Heck, I didn’t even get invited to their party at the NAR Conference in San Diego. And no Sara, I’m never letting that go. ;)

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  • http://www.drewmeyersinsights.com drewmeyers

    “Zillow.com has some function in hosting/managing this very blog you are reading.”
    We do, but I want to make sure readers here know it's not heavy handed — I didn't review a single word of this post prior to it going live.

    And sorry about NAR. I promise (on Sara's behalf) we'll invite you to the next party :)

    • http://PhoenixRealEstateGuy.com Jay Thompson

      Indeed, not heavy handed in the least. Zillow has NEVER edited a word I've written (not even complained) ever.

      And no worries about the party, Sara CLAIMS she sent an invite. I just like hassling her, so I take every opportunity I get!

  • http://www.zillow.com/ Sara Bonert

    Ok – Someone tell me how I can search all past Twitter DMs, I gotta find that invite I sent!! I'll get you back at Inman. Maybe I'll buy you a drink at the Google party… :)

    To the question in your second bullet point – Yes, they can be co-mingled, so placement does matter. Also, in early 2010 we hope to have rentals via feed in place. This program is still being working out, but I can say anything Featured through paying an advertising fee would come first.

  • louis cammarosano

    Congrats on the launch.
    I like the concept of searching by price at the same time for rentals and homes for sale.
    I was confused however, by the data entry fields and the results which did not match.
    I think there are a few tweaks that could make this a very useful tool

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    Congrations

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  • http://www.zoombits.de/geschenke-gadgets gadgets

    Hi,
    Wow that is great features ,As far as I know one of the most-visited U.S. real estate Web sites, Zillow's goal is to help people become smarter about real estate in every stage of the home ownership process,buying, selling, remodeling and financing.

  • http://www.lasvegaspropertymanagements.com/ Tony Sena

    Being a property manager, this could be a good marketing tool for my business.

  • http://www.lasvegaspropertymanagements.com/ Tony Sena

    Being a property manager, this could be a good marketing tool for my business.

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    I was beeing trying to find the google for such info and i wanted to say thanks to you for the post. By the way, just off topic, where can i find a version of this theme? – Thanks

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