The U.S. rental market is as competitive as it’s been in decades, and renters are facing a variety of challenges. High demand is keeping vacancy rates near all-time lows and pushing rents up almost as quickly as home prices. Rent prices shot up nearly 17% in the past year, with the typical U.S. rent now at $1,904 per month — the highest Zillow has ever recorded. Zillow shares four tips to help renters save, and even gain a competitive edge, in this historically hot rental market.
1. Set a budget and understand rental market trends.
Most renters (81%) say finding a rental within their initial budget is the most important factor in choosing a home, according to Zillow’s Consumer Housing Trends Report. Before starting their search, renters should know what they can afford and arm themselves with information to feel confident they are getting a fair deal. Zillow’s Rent Affordability Calculator can help renters determine their price range, and Zillow’s all-new Rental Market Trends tool provides an up-to-date look at their desired market. Renters can search by city or ZIP code, bedroom count and home type, and then view price charts, month-over-month and year-over-year changes, and market temperature. They can even compare the cost of two different markets side by side.
In addition, Zillow’s Local Legal Protections tool can help inform renters of their rights. This resource first launched in 2020 to help LGBTQ home seekers understand what legal protections exist under local law, since federal law does not explicitly provide protection against housing discrimination based on LGBTQ status. Zillow has since expanded the tool to share information about local laws that prohibit landlords from discriminating against renters based on the income source they use to pay rent. As rents continue to rise, this tool becomes more pertinent to those who rely on housing choice vouchers for financial assistance to pay their rent.
2. Search smarter with tech.
Next, renters should nail down their must-haves as well as the features on which they are willing to compromise. Zillow’s search filters include price, home type, bed and bath preferences, specific pet requirements, in-unit laundry and several other amenity options.
Tools such as Zillow’s virtual 3D Tours and interactive floor plans allow renters to narrow down the properties they want to see in person, or help ease their hesitation if applying for a place sight unseen. These features are increasingly important to renters. Forty-three percent of renters surveyed in 2021 agreed they wasted time during their home search visiting properties they would have skipped had they understood the floor plan before visiting the home.i
3. Save time and money with a single application.
Many renters live in highly competitive markets and are on tight timelines — of those renters surveyed who had moved from a previous rental, more than half said they knew less than three months beforehand that they would be moving out.ii In 2021, 61% of all renters applied for two or more properties. Black and Latinx renters typically submit three applications and are almost twice as likely as white renters to submit five or more applications during their search. With a median rental application fee of $50, the cost and time spent filling out applications can add up quickly. Renters can gain advantages of both speed and savings in this supercharged market simply by using Zillow Applications.
For a flat fee of $29, renters can use Zillow Applications to apply online for an unlimited number of participating properties for 30 days, which gives them the ability to control costs and add flexibility to their search. More than 1.1 million renters submitted online applications with Zillow Applications in 2021, with each renter typically submitting three applications during their 30-day period.
4. Stand out to landlords and property managers.
Renters can stand out from the crowd by anticipating what landlords and property managers need and may want to see during the screening process. Using Zillow’s Renter Profile, renters can highlight the information landlords and property managers care about, and potentially expedite the process of getting into their new home.
With this tool, renters searching for properties on Zillow can create a personal profile outlining their renter qualifications, such as a personal bio, employment, self-reported income and credit score, as well as the renter’s desired move-in date and lease duration, and any amenities they’re seeking.
From there, renters can manage their entire renting experience on Zillow’s Renter Hub — from checking the status of pending applications and tour requests to reviewing messages directly from property managers. Landlords and property managers can also give renters the option to sign their lease and pay rent online within Zillow’s Renter Hub.
About Zillow Group
Zillow Group, Inc.is reimagining real estate to make it easier to unlock life’s next chapter. As the most visited real estate website in the United States, Zillow® and its affiliates offer customers an on-demand experience for selling, buying, renting or financing with transparency and ease.
Zillow Group’s affiliates and subsidiaries include Zillow®, Zillow Premier Agent®, Zillow Home Loans™, Zillow Closing Services™, Trulia®, Out East®, ShowingTime®, Bridge Interactive®, dotloop®, StreetEasy® and HotPads®. Zillow Home Loans, LLC is an Equal Housing Lender, NMLS #10287 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org).