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Zillow Does It Again: This Time They're After Your Rental Income

January 21 2021

This month, Zillow announced that your MLS rental listings would no longer be syndicated directly to Zillow. Instead, if listing agents, teams, or brokerages elect to publish their rentals on Zillow, they will have to pay $9.99 per week, per listing.

With this policy change, Zillow forces every agent, team, landlord, rental specialist, brokerage, and MLS to create an account with Zillow Rental Manager and pay this hefty fee to appear on Zillow.

At Rental Beast, we ran the numbers. The potential economic impact on real estate is massive: potentially tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars.

By the numbers

Large MLSs may have as many as 10,000 listings each month or more. If you take 12,500 rental listings and multiply it by an average cost of $9.95 per week for 4.5 weeks (the typical amount of time it takes to rent out a listing), the expense for a single large MLS would be over $6.7 million annually.

Even a smaller MLS with 200 monthly rental listings would be looking at an unbudgeted annual expense that tops as much as $107,000. A large brokerage with just under 1,000 monthly rental listings would have to find more than $500,000 annually to pay Zillow.

Considering the low margins most brokerages struggle with to remain viable, one has to wonder: Is Zillow trying to get blood from a turnip?

The typical agent, only working their sphere of influence, will generate a couple of rental listings per month. To put their rental business on Zillow will now set them back over $1,000 a year.

The Rental Beast alternative

With more than 113 million renters today, listing agents and landlords need a better choice. Rental Beast provides a great alternative to individual agents and landlords. Most importantly, Rental Beast, which has nearly 9 million rental listings, offers seamless integration with MLSs.

In addition to cost savings, the Rental Beast all-in-one solution provides a powerful suite of tools not offered by Zillow or similar listing platforms, including enhanced agent search detailing agent commissions, rental concessions, co-operation, financial requirements, and more. Rental Beast also captures the landlord renter's insurance requirements, then pairs the information with preferred rates from Liberty Mutual.

Our advanced AVM is another significant competitive advantage because it encompasses 50+ data points culled from nearly 9 million rigorously maintained rental listings on Rental Beast. We also deliver extensive education and training through Rental Beast University.

We've seen this before from Zillow

On January 12th, many agents were astonished to see an email from Zillow with the subject line, "Your rental listings are no longer on Zillow." But if you look at Zillow’s track record, this move should not be surprising.

When Zillow bought New York City's rental listing site StreetEasy in 2017, Zillow began charging $3 per listing per day, or $21 per week. About a year later, Zillow increased its daily listing fee by 50 percent to $31.50. The next year, in 2019, Zillow increased its daily listing fee on StreetEasy by another 33 percent to $42 per week. Over two years, Zillow doubled its listing fees for rentals on StreetEasy.

Will anyone be surprised if Zillow raises its $9.99 per rental listing per week a year or two from now?

Talk to agents who use Rental Beast

Agents are finding better ways to promote their rental listings, like Sandra McKimmey with Better Homes and Gardens Winans Real Estate in Dallas, Texas. She markets her rental listings on Facebook Marketplace through Rental Beast. While she has only used Rental Beast for a few months, it has already paid off, as she earned $1,400 in commissions for rental listings she said only took "a couple of hours to close."

Ronald Nordgren, a leasing consultant with Infiniti Properties in Homewood, Illinois, tells other agents they do not need Zillow if they use Rental Beast. He closed 95 leases using Rental Beast last year and was the number one agent for rentals out of more than 200 agents in his office.

For J.R. Alexandre, an Ethanmour Realty agent serving Boynton Beach, Florida, Rental Beast was a "game-changer." Alexandre found using the Rental Beast digital platform was a time-saver, explaining, "I don't spin my wheels doing paperwork."

Rentals on the MLS is the future

Agent experiences like these are happening with thousands of others. Our agent reach is growing exponentially as more MLSs partner with Rental Beast. Because many renters will become homeowners, Rental Beast delivers future business to agents in partnership with MLSs.

Finally, as the leading source of rental listings on Facebook Marketplace, we delivered more than 263,000 potential leads to real estate agents and landlords in 2019. Facebook notes that Rental Beast "provided 54 percent more leads per listing generated than other online listing services."

Rental Beast is, today more than ever, the rental solution for agents, teams, landlords, rental specialists, brokerages, and MLSs. Learn more about who we are and what we do at rentalbeast.com.

Ishay Grinberg [pronounced ee-shy] is the Founder and CEO of Rental Beast, the largest rental listing data provider with nearly nine million rentals nationwide. Sourced directly from property owners and updated in real-time, the Rental Beast database, directly and in partnership with local Multiple Listing Services, provides real estate professionals with an unparalleled view of all properties and owner types.