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Zillow Group, the company behind Zillow, Trulia, and StreetEasy, wants to ease the burden of hunting for properties and paying rent on time.

It announced a new service today that allows landlords to accept applications and rent payments through Zillow’s existing Zillow Rental Manager. Would-be renters pay $29 for a home or apartment application with credit, eviction history, and background checks powered by Experian and Checkr. Once they’ve secured the place, they have the option of setting up automatic rent payments using whichever method they please, including debit and check.

The new service is free for landlords, with the exception of a small processing fee on credit and debit card transactions (ACH is free).

“Renters tell us they want the entire rental process to happen online, from search to application to payment,” Zillow president Jeremy Wacksman said in a statement. “However, most landlords don’t have the resources to offer these services. We’re excited to provide the technology to help renters and landlords have a better experience.”

Seattle-based Zillow has spent much of its 14-year history as a marketplace company focused on real estate advertising and data, but it’s recently pivoted toward investing and analytics in an effort to head off competitors such as Opendoor and Offerpad. In May 2017, Zillow launched Instant Offers, a feature that connects homeowners to offers from investors and comparative market analysis from local real estate agents. In April of that year, the company announced it would begin buying and selling homes.

Today, Zillow’s bread and butter is sales leads, which it passes to agents who work for brokers — like Coldwell Banker or Re/Max —  to provide marketing, insurance, and sales support in exchange for a cut of their commission. Agents spend up to $60,000 a year buying leads from Zillow.

More than 3 out of 4 home shoppers start their search with Zillow, the company said, and 35 million renters visit Zillow and its affiliate websites and apps each month.


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