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Newspaper ads, a sign in the yard, maybe by word of mouth...before the internet age, landlords had limited options to advertise rental property. Today, it’s easier than ever to get the word out via rental listing sites. With just a click of a mouse, landlords can advertise rental vacancies to potentially millions of people in just a few seconds.
Rental listing sites can provide an easy and affordable way to find the best tenants for a rental property, and some will even help determine how much rent a landlord can reasonably expect to collect. Keep reading to see which rental listing site is the right choice for you and how it stacks up to the competition.
Best Overall: Avail
Why We Chose It: Avail offers members a free Unlimited Plan with a lot of features competitors normally expect you to pay for, including syndicated listings, credit and criminal screening, state-specific leases, online rent payments, and maintenance tracking. The company also offers an affordable Unlimited Plus Plan with additional features for an entry-level price of just $5 per unit, per month.
Affordable unlimited plans
Listings syndicated to 11 sites
Online rental payments
State-specific lease templates
A 3.5 percent processing fee is added to tenant payments, regardless of subscription plan
Tenants must pay $2.50 per bank transfer when landlords use the free Unlimited Plan
Avail began as the Chicago-based company Rentalutions and was founded in 2012. It was created by a group of part-time landlords who wanted to streamline the rental process and make it easier for independent, do-it-yourself landlords to manage their properties. Today, the site has over 150,000 landlords who use the platform and continues to see a rise in users as more landlords turn to online services.
Avail is more than just a listing site for rental properties. When you create your listing, it is published across all the top rental sites, including Zillow, Trulia, HotPads, Zumper, Padmapper, Walkscore, Realtor.com, Lovely, Doorsteps.com, Apartments.com, and ApartmentList. Avail states that landlords typically get an average of 18 leads from these listings during the first two weeks.
In addition, the company provides a way to screen potential tenants and offers a choice of three reports to choose from: Basic (Free), Credit + ($30), and a full screening ($55). Once you select your tenant, Avail uses a platform that lets you manage your rental properties right on the site. Avail not only provides you with state-specific leases, but it also gives tenants the ability to make rental payments online. While this service is free for Unlimited Plus Plan users, tenants pay $2.50 per bank transfer when landlords use the free Unlimited Plan, and there is a 3.5 percent processing fee added to tenant payments, regardless of the plan.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Zillow Rental Manager
Why We Chose It: Zillow is widely known and its website receives over 34 million visitors each month. It has name recognition and is a convenient, one-stop platform for managing every step of the rental process, from advertising your property to screening tenants and accepting rent payments.
Automatically posts your rental listing on Zillow, Trulia, and HotPads
Provides pricing suggestions
Online rental payments functionality
Lease builder only available in certain states
First listing is free, but additional listings are $9.99 per week
Zillow Rental Manager is a division of Zillow and was founded in 2006. Created by former Microsoft executives, the Seattle-based company is considered one of the leading online real estate marketplaces in the United States.
The company is best known for its Zestimates, which provides homeowners with an algorithm-based home value estimate. However, the company’s rental manager tool has grown in popularity. This feature gives landlords a convenient way to create listings, message potential tenants, and screen renters all on one platform.
Like Avail, Zillow Rental Manager automatically posts your listing to other platforms to give it more exposure. Since the company is a leader in determining home values, it comes as no surprise that it also provides landlords with a feel for the market. By providing them with a little information about your property, Zillow Rental Manager will give you suggestions on how to price your rental correctly, making you more competitive with other rental properties in the area.
Best for Short-Term Rentals: VRBO
Why We Chose It: Unlike some of its closest competitors, VRBO only allows entire-home listings and caters to people who want a traditional vacation rental and don’t want to share a living space.
VRBO search engine allows you to list property features that can attract prospective renters to your listing
Less competition since you are only competing with other full-home listings
5 percent commission charged for the rental amount, plus any other fees (such as cleaning or pet fees)
3 percent payment processing fee charged on the total payment amount you receive, including taxes and refundable damage deposits
VRBO, which stands for Vacation Rentals by Owner, began in 1995 and is headquartered in Austin, Texas. As the name suggests, the company matches landlords who prefer to rent out their properties for a short-term (days, weeks, or a month) instead of having renters tied to a traditional lease. The company has a selection of over 2 million full homes available in the U.S. and across the world for short-term renting.
The VRBO platform operates similarly to the booking systems used by hotels. Renters select the dates they're seeking to rent and then book a place based on location, price, and the rental amenities that are available.
To keep things fair and upfront between both parties, property owners may choose from one of five cancellation options, and renters may message the property owner through the website if they have questions or concerns. Renters also have up to a year to leave a review after their stay, and property owners have 14 days to respond once they receive it.
Best for Apartment Listings: Apartments.com
Why We Chose It: We could say that we chose Apartments.com on name recognition alone, but we also appreciate that it’s free to list. Once you list your apartment, it automatically networks to five other apartment rental sites.
Listings are free
Listings automatically post to multiple websites
$24.99 tenant-paid fee for credit, criminal background, and eviction checks
Tenants can pay rent online for free with an echeck, but a 2.75 percent fee applies when paying with a debit or credit card
Apartments.com is operated by the CoStar Group, Inc. The company was founded in 1987 and is headquartered in Washington, D.C. It is known as the leading provider of commercial real estate information. As an online apartment listing website, Apartments.com provides renters with access to over 1 million available units for rent.
Although it is 100 percent free to list on Apartments.com, results are sorted based on the listing type, which could mean that your listing may get lost among all the others. To receive a more prominent position in the results, members are encouraged to purchase a Premium package that can give your property up to 10 times more exposure. Buying this option will make your listing appear larger on the website and it will receive higher visibility for up to 30 days. Pricing for a Premium plan varies depending on the state and the market.
Best for Executive/Corporate Housing: CHBO
Why We Chose It: CHBO focuses specifically on furnished rentals for executives who want the amenities of home but may only need to rent for a few weeks or months at a time. We appreciate that the company is available by phone or chat if you have questions or concerns.
Provides furnished housing to executives for short-term periods
Easy to contact by phone or chat if you have questions or concerns
Packages are expensive (from $229 to $975 per year)
Not well-known outside the business community
CHBO (Corporate Housing by Owner) was founded in 2005 and is headquartered in Highland Ranch, Colorado, with an additional headquarters in New Orleans, Louisiana. The company specializes in matching landlords with executives who need furnished rentals, but don’t want to deal with a long-term lease.
Since the company caters more to corporations than individuals, packages to list on CHBO are expensive. Prices range from $229 for a monthly package to $975 for a Platinum/Certified package that lasts a year. To ensure that corporate housing is right for you as a landlord, CHBO offers free property evaluations. Through the CHBO Complete program, the company provides a quality seal to inform renters that your property meets or exceeds its standards. This designation helps rent out your property out more quickly when you have a vacancy, and you are more likely to get qualified tenants who want to lease short-term.
In today’s rental market, advertising online doesn’t just make a landlord’s life easier, it is a necessity if you want to find the right tenant for your rental property. Rental listing sites help landlords get their properties in front of many prospective tenants quickly, often for free or for a small fee. Since each landlord’s situation is different, we suggest comparing all the best companies and selecting the one that best fits your specific needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is a Rental Listing Site?
A rental listing site allows landlords, property managers, and real estate agents to list the properties they have available for rent. These sites then allow prospective tenants to search through many listings all in one place.
How Much Does It Cost to Use a Rental Listing Site?
The cost for using a rental listing site varies depending on the features and amount of exposure a site provides. Some sites are free to use, while others charge a fee either per week, per year, or per listing. A rental listing site may also offer upgrades or packages at different price points. These prices are based on the number of features available in each package.
How We Chose the Best Rental Listing Sites
There are many different types of rental listing sites and we reviewed over 10 before choosing the best one for each category. Our top contenders were selected through a variety of factors, including ease of use, functions and tools, available features, and company reputation. We also considered how much it costs to list a property and how each site could assist a landlord’s property management needs.