Rental Listing Website Trends 101: Hip or Hype?

A property with a “For Rent” sign on the front.

The advancement of technology and the rise of the sharing economy are spurring property managers and landlords to leverage rental listing websites to expose their properties to a wider audience. 

Classified ads in the local newspaper or word-of-mouth were the primary means of marketing a rental property, once upon a time. Today’s property managers have the advantage of many online tools at their disposal to reach potential tenants.

Finding a rental property has also changed dramatically, with potential tenants using rental listing websites as their primary search tool. These sites offer several advantages for tenants and property managers, including greater exposure, screening tools, and detailed listings.

Not all rental property listing websites are created equal, though. Some sites offer greater exposure and more features than others, and with new sites popping up, it can be hard to keep track of the latest trends. 

Let’s take a look, then, at the top property rental websites and what makes them the best choice for property managers. This comprehensive guide will walk you through these sites, their benefits, and the best ones to use.

What Are Rental Listing Websites, and How Do They Work?

These sites are online platforms that allow property managers and landlords to list their rental properties to target a wider audience of potential tenants. The landlord or property owner will create an account on the site and post detailed information about their rental property, including:

  • Monthly rent price
  • Square footage
  • Photos of the interior and exterior
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Special features or amenities
  • Pet policy
  • Contact information

The listing will go live on the site once it’s verified, and potential tenants can browse properties that match their needs, budget, and location. The rental listing company will notify the landlord or property manager when a potential tenant is interested in their rental property and provide them with the interested party’s contact information.

Benefits of Rental Listing Property Websites

Landlords are always highly motivated to fill their rental units as quickly as possible to minimize vacancy loss, given the 46.9% average turnover rate. What better way to do that than by listing your rental property on a rental listing website? Here are some of the top benefits of these sites:

1. Increased Exposure

These sites give you access to a wider pool of potential tenants, which means your rental property will get more exposure than if you were to list it on classified ads or through word-of-mouth.

2. 24/7 Availability

Rental listing sites are available online 24/7, making it easier for potential tenants to browse rental properties at their convenience.

3. Detailed Listings

Most of these sites allow landlords to include detailed information about their rental properties, which helps potential tenants learn more about the property and decide if it’s a good fit for their needs.

4. Saves Time and Money

Leveraging a listing site is a more efficient and cost-effective way to find tenants than traditional methods like classified ads or word-of-mouth. It’s also free to list your rental property on most of these websites, saving you time and money you can channel to other areas of your business.

5. Access to Tenant Screening Tools

Many rental listing websites offer tenant screening tools, which landlords can use to run background checks on potential tenants, including their rental history, and weed out any unsavory characters. This helps landlords save time and money by only interviewing qualified candidates. Lack of proper tenant screening can cost landlords thousands of dollars in damages and lost rent.

The benefits of these sites ultimately serve to improve both landlord and renter experience, saving them time, effort, and potential headaches down the road. It is also important for both parties to use the top websites available, as this will play a role in finding the ideal tenant-landlord partnership. 

The Best Rental Listing Websites

Choosing the right website is essential to the success of your rental property business. All of these websites have different features, sizes, listing categories, ease of use, and pricing plans, so selecting the one that best suits your needs is important. Below is a comprehensive list of some of the best listing sites available, complete with their key features and pricing:

1. Zillow

One of the most popular rental listing sites is Zillow and its unrivaled breadth and depth of data. It boasts the largest inventory with over 135 million homes and apartments for rent or sale, most site traffic, and built-in tenant screening tools. 

Zillow offers a first free listing for landlords but charges $9.99 weekly for additional listings. Landlords and property managers can upload 3-D view virtual tours, high-quality photos, and video walkthroughs to increase the visibility of their rental listings. Listing on Zillow is a relatively easy process and can be completed in minutes:

  • Create an account on Zillow
  • Add a detailed description of your rental property, including high-quality photos and virtual tours
  • Set your monthly rental price
  • Add your contact information
  • Publish your listing

Zillow’s mobile app allows landlords and property managers to add, edit, update, screen tenants, and communicate with applicants on the go. Renters pay a monthly fee of $29 to access unlimited listings for 30 days. 

Zillow offers many great features for landlords such as collecting rent, but managing security deposits and pet fees is a hassle and the property can’t be categorized to a specific neighborhood.

2. Apartments.com 

The rental listing site Apartments.com has been touted as the best website to attract qualified tenants. It has over 1 million listings, detailed property descriptions with high-quality photos, and is a go-to website for renters looking for apartments, condos, and homes. 

Apartments.com has a network of seven sister sites, including ForRent.com, Apartmenthomeliving.com, and ApartmentFinder.com, giving landlords more exposure to their rental listings. Features that make Apartments.com stand out include:

  • Tenant screening for credit and background checks
  • Online tour scheduling
  • Lease signing
  • Rent collection

Property owners can capture renter attention by:

  • Tagging their rental listing by neighborhood, allowing renters to search for rental listings in their desired area
  • Completing the amenities list to let renters know what’s included in the rental unit
  • Including high-quality photos and videos to give renters a realistic view of the rental unit

The site charges renters a small fee to apply for a rental listing, ensuring landlords are attracting the right applicants. Only those serious about renting the property will apply, saving landlords time and money.

3. Avail

Relative new kid on the block Avail is one of the more recent rental listing sites, and it is quickly making a name for itself as a go-to site for landlords and property managers. Avail offers a free rental listing for landlords and property managers and a suite of powerful tools to streamline the rental process. 

Avail offers an applicant’s eviction records, advanced criminal checks, national sex offender registry checks, and global watchlist checks, turning the usual protocol of standard credit history and criminal background checks on its head. 

Avail syndicates newly created listings to other top rental listing sites like Zillow, Apartments.com, PadMapper, HotPads, Zumper, and Realtor.com, enabling property owners to reach a wider audience. Landlords can also share their listings on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

Avail’s intuitive interface makes it easy for landlords to keep track of rental applications, communication, and documents. A significant downside is that Avail offers a limited list of filters potential applicants can use to search for rental listings.

Avail has a free unlimited plan for landlords, which charges tenants $2.50 per bank transfer, and an Unlimited Plus, which costs a property owner $5 per month. Nationwide criminal background and credit history checks cost $30 each or $55 as a bundle, which the renter pays.

The top choices for rental listing sites and the benefits they offer can help guide both landlords and renters to find their perfect match, but landlords would be wise to add to their peace of mind by working with the professionals.

Streamline Your Rental Business with RentSafe

Juggling between rental property management, finding and screening tenants, and collecting rent can be a handful for property owners. RentSafe offers a suite of powerful tools to help landlords streamline their rental business by allowing property managers to add unlimited properties, screen tenants, and collect rent payments, all in one place.

Creating a listing on RentSafe takes one click of a button, allowing you to send a link to an applicant so they can create their account. Real-time alerts allow you to view the whole process on the Property Manager dashboard and get notified when an applicant starts the application, completes it, or if there is any activity on a file. 

Give us a call today to speak to one of our experts about how we can help you manage your rental business more efficiently.

Devin Henry
Devin Henry
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