NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Normally, when you purchase an item, be it a carton of milk or a new car, it’s easy to compare prices with other sellers to make sure you get a fair shake. Unfortunately, the same isn’t usually the case when renting a home or apartment, as each property is unique and even similar properties could have prices that vary based on the seller’s expectations. But now, one website is hoping to serve as a reference guide for rental prices.
Zillow, a popular real estate listing website, introduced a new service last week that provides monthly rent estimates for more than 90 million homes and apartments across the country. And it’s all free.
Zillow uses public property records as well as data from hundreds of thousands of property listings on the site to determine the approximate value of a particular home or apartment, or of comparable properties nearby.
Consumers can enter in the address for the property and if it’s in the system, Rent Zestimates will return the essential details (bedrooms, square footage, etc.) along with the estimated range that the rent should fall into. The database will also show the last time the rental price information was updated, so you’ll know if the estimate is up to date, and if applicable, Zillow will show how much the rent price has changed during the previous 30 days, so you’ll have a sense of whether the price is getting better or worse.
As the company noted in the press release announcing the feature, Rent Zestimates is arguably just as useful for landlords as it is for consumers, if not more so, because it can serve as a reference point when setting the price of a home, and as a result, can help landlords avoid selling a property at a loss.
Of course, the one downside of this feature is that even with 90 million rental estimates, there are still millions of homes that are not mentioned in the database, but hopefully this will change as the site gets off the ground and continues to compile data.
This feature is all the more important today as many Americans across all income brackets have cooled to the idea of buying property following the all out collapse of the housing market, and are instead looking to rent.
If you’re searching for a new place to rent or buy, check out MainStreet’s homebuyer’s bill of rights. It’s a must-read.
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