Don't expect your rental listing to show up on Zillow (NASDAQ: Z) (NASDAQ: ZG) anytime soon -- at least not without a hefty fee. Just a few days ago, the real estate giant announced it would stop syndicating rental listings from MLSs -- a practice many property investors had come to rely on for leads and exposure.
To make matters worse? The platform will now charge for those listings: a whopping $9.99 per property -- per week.
According to a study from Rental Beast, an online listing platform dedicated to rentals, Zillow's announcement could have a "multimillion-dollar impact" on the industry.
"The new costs to a small MLS and its subscribers could be over $100,000 a year," Ishay Grinberg, CEO of Rental Beast, said in the report. "For a large MLS, the new costs could be north of $6.5 million -- per year. There are some 600 MLSs nationwide, and if just the largest ones adopt this new pricing scheme, the total economic impact on the real estate industry will run in the tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars."
Naturally, if you're a rental property investor, the move might have you worried -- especially since Zillow controls other major platforms, like Trulia and HotPads. How much could the move impact your advertising strategy? And what are your alternatives? Let's dig in:
To get your rental listings on Zillow, you'll now have to sign up for Zillow Rental Manager. Though your first listing is free, every subsequent listing after that will run you $9.99 per week.
According to the platform's FAQ section, the move "encourages our rental owners and managers to remove listings promptly when they become unavailable or outdated, which helps us provide a better experience for renters."
Listings renew automatically, too, so you'll need to be on top of things. Logging in once or twice a month probably won't cut it -- at least if you have several properties listed simultaneously.
The one perk is that your listing will go live on all three of the company's sites: HotPads, Trulia, and Zillow. You'll also get access to Rental Manager's screening tools, digital leases, and online rent payment services.
Alternatives to explore
If you're not willing to pay for Zillow's new fees -- and your local MLS or partner real estate agent won't either -- then you'll want some alternative market strategies on hand to get you by.
Of course, you can look to other listing platforms, including ones like Rental Beast, Zumper, or Apartments.com. Avail is a good option, too, especially considering their new relationship with Realtor.com.
You can also think about using social media to find tenants -- Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) and Nextdoor are both great options -- or list your property in local newspapers, greensheets, and classifieds. In a non-COVID-19 world, sponsoring a community event or team can also be a good way to get your properties out there.
The bottom line
Relying on Zillow to bring in leads is no longer as easy -- or affordable -- as it once was. Fortunately, there are plenty of other ways to advertise your property without breaking the bank. Get on other listing platforms, bring in a well-connected real estate agent, and start leveraging social media. With a multipronged approach, you may never need Zillow again.