Listing your rental on websites like Craigslist, Realtor.com, Padmapper, and previously, Zillow, has been a free service for landlords and agents. Only in broker-dominated markets, such as New York City, would you see a paywall where a landlord would be charged a fee to list their vacant rental property.
Zillow is changing the landscape. They currently require you to pay to list your rental property in Oregon, Colorado, and Florida. Starting on February 1, 2020, the same will be true for Illinois, Tennessee, New Hampshire, Delaware, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Zillow’s rental team has mentioned that they have no plans to roll back this paywall.
How is Zillow charging?
For rentals in Oregon, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Tennessee, New Hampshire, Delaware, South Carolina, and North Carolina, Zillow charges you a fee to advertise your rental property. This fee is charged even if you are posting on Zillow Rental Manager, where only your first posting for the year is free.
What effect will this have on the market?
Zillow became the #1 rental listing website, because it did not charge for listings and provided a great user experience with trusted data (shut down fraudulent accounts faster than its competitors, like Craigslist). Craigslist became a less popular option as it did not provide these two key features that Zillow had.
Zillow may risk its #1 position by putting up a paywall and requiring fees to list rentals. Since they also own Trulia and HotPads, where the same paywall exists to advertise, their overall rental listing inventory could decrease across all three platforms. Fewer people will advertise on the platform when there is a paywall.
In the short-term, we believe that Zillow’s change in policy will not strongly affect the market. They currently have the majority share of the market, so tenants will continue to search Zillow’s platform for their next home.
In the next couple of years, we predict tenants will see Zillow’s inventory decrease and will start to discover other free rental sites with more listings available. This trend will be seen across the nation, as Zillow starts to charge for advertising on their website.
Zillow’s new policy is shaking up the market. There could be a huge opportunity here for a new rental listing website to take the #1 position! However, Zillow may be quick to respond to any threat. In the long term, it will be interesting to see whether Zillow can maintain its #1 position as other listing websites offer free services.
What other rental advertising options do I have?
In order to make it easier to advertise on multiple listing websites, Hemlane posts to over 30 rental listing websites with a goal to provide you with the most tenant inquiries. Hemlane offers a 30 day free trial for you to see the results. Rental properties on Hemlane receive an average of 21 qualified leads within the first 15 days, consolidated from all of the top rental listing websites. The other popular place to post your rental property is Facebook Marketplace.