Another new feature allows renters to track applications, communicate with property managers and manage payments through Zillow.
Saying it could save renters thousands of dollars and simplify the process of finding a place to rent in a competitive market, Zillow unveiled a set of new and updated features on Monday.
One new feature allows people looking for a place to rent to filter by move-in date, which could help renters avoid paying double rent while waiting for an existing lease to end, Zillow says.
The changes come as real estate portal giants compete to capture a larger share of renters, many of whom have been priced out of buying a home.
As part of that competition, Zillow launched a new feature on desktop with plans to roll it out on mobile soon that allows renters to search by move-in date.
“If you’ve ever been a renter, you know how stress-inducing the search process is,” said Christopher Roberts, senior vice president and general manager of Zillow Rentals. “Sorting through emails and keeping track of all the landlords or leasing offices you’ve contacted is a hassle on its own. Now that the rentals market is more expensive than ever, ensuring lease start and end dates align is critical to avoid paying rent for two homes at once.”
The online real estate portal also unveiled updates to its Renter Hub, a place where people looking for rental properties can communicate with property managers through the Zillow app.
The company says it aims to simplify renters’ searches by keeping it all in one place.
“Our Renter Hub upgrades and new search filters give renters confidence they are exclusively seeing the homes that fit their needs — including their move-in timing and their budget — and that they aren’t missing any messages from prospective landlords, even on the go,” Roberts said.
The changes come as the online real estate portals compete for market share.
Zillow and Redfin, among the biggest players in online real estate search, have stepped up their focus in recent years on capturing the attention of renters. The firms are betting they can create lifelong customers if they focus on serving future homebuyers while they’re still renting.
Zillow said it is adding or upgrading features to help renters gain an advantage or find rentals that fit their needs.
Renters can already search up to five different areas at once, letting them compare areas within their budgets.
The company is working on letting renters set up a profile in the app that shows such information as their personal biography, employment status, income and credit score. That feature is already available on desktop and mobile and will soon be added to the app, the company said.
Zillow is also working on a feature that will suggest to searchers rentals based on popular criteria. In dense urban areas, for example, the app might suggest rentals with on-site parking. In hot climates, it might suggest rentals with air conditioning.