Seattle-based Zillow provides online real-estate price estimates and acts as a marketplace for renters, buyers and sellers.
According to the 2009 American Housing Survey from the U.S. Census, 70 percent of people who move each year are renters, making Zillow’s foray into the rental market a potential cash cow.
Of those renters, a recent survey by housing research think-tank Ipsos found that two-thirds of renters do not research what is a fair rental price before they sign their lease.
Zillow said it hopes to change that by offering Rent Zestimates’ estimated rent prices on specific homes or apartments, thereby leveling the playing field to make sure consumers aren’t paying too much for their new rental.
The company said Rent Zestimates will appear in search bubbles on homes available to rent, and on the main details page for nearly every home on Zillow, whether it’s on the market or not.
It currently has close to 300,000 apartments and homes listed for rent and consumers can search listings by number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage and monthly payment.
Users can find Rent Zestimates on map searches and individual home detail pages on Zillow.com and all Zillow mobile applications, including iPhone, iPad and Android apps.
“Buyers and renters are not exclusive categories – many people are considering both options when shopping for a new home. Similarly, many would-be sellers in today’s housing market are considering whether to become landlords rather than sell at a loss,” said Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff. “We created Rent Zestimates to empower people with information and data to make the right real estate decision for them.”
The company is also hoping to catch the eye of landlords who are intending to move out sometime in the next three years, helping them determine a fair price to charge when they do rent out their homes.
Zillow’s offerings are widespread: It took over all of Yahoo’s real estate listings in July and launched mobile apps in March of last year.
But it still faces stiff competition from other online home finders such as Trulia, which announced in January that it had teamed up with international home lister ListGlobally to begin offering rentals and houses for sale in 17 countries worldwide.
For now, however, Zillow remains the leader in the space.
The company said that currently Zillow Mobile apps are used 6.5 million times each month, with more than 23 million visits to home detail pages –the equivalent of 32,000 home views every hour, or close to nine home views a second.