There has been a big change at zillow.com over the past 24 hours: the addition of rental listings.
In its press release, zillow.com says "featured" rental listings on its US real estate marketplace will cost US$9.95 for 180 days. However, in highlighting the first ten rental properties listed just a few hours after the option was launched, zillow.com said: “Cost is just $9.95 per listing for 180 days on the second-largest real estate website in the US.”
Addressing Joel Burselm’s post on 1000watt blog, zillow.com community director David Gibbons clarified how the pricing model has changed:
“[W]e have moved all manually posted listings to featured listings (which have always been a paid product on zillow.com.) Featured listings receive six times the traffic that normal listings do on zillow.com. There’s significant value for a very nominal charge here.”
Gibbons also spoke to agentgenius.com and said zillow.com will be examining how to offer a “pro” account or bundle package for agents’ listings. Broker relations director Sara Bonert also responded to this post, assuring agents that if their listings come to zillow.com via a third-party feed they will still be free. Bonert emphasised that 97 percent of listings to zillow.com are received from feeds.
zillow.com chief operating officer Spencer Rascoff told inman.com that the website plans to start accepting bulk rental listing feeds at no charge from brokerages and property managers during the first quarter of 2010.
In announcing the addition of rental listings, zillow.com explained it has also released a new monthly payment search function, allowing users to compare the monthly mortgage payment to the monthly cost of renting. The monthly payment on homes for sale is calculated using that day’s local mortgage rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage assuming a 20 percent down payment.
zillow.com says no other website helps home shoppers easily compare the monthly cost of owning versus renting side-by-side, however as hotpads.com co-founder Douglas Pope explained in a recent interview with propertyportalwatch.com, his website also offers a buy versus rent comparative search.
According to the Hitwise rankings for November, zillow.com has moved into the number two spot amongst US real estate websites after more than a year in third place.