Rentometer or zillow to get correct rent amount?

15 Replies

My experience with Zillow was bad, too.  In my market, Craigslist was the best barometer.  I also rented to students and there was a university housing website for the local university with rentals and I could check what others were charging there, too.

You could also check if there's a facebook group for rentals for your market, where people advertise rentals available and wanted.

The data-generated sites like Zillow just don't seem to be accurate.

It's property specific and regional....so in other words neither are that great.

hotpads, which I think is owned by Zillow...is better pulling actual comps. Crosscheck against Craigslist and you should have a solid idea to tell if any site is close to correct.

@Don Thornton my thoughts are that a good property manager should know the current market rents backwards and forwards without either tool since they are actively involved in the market and renting out properties all the time and neither tool should be necessary for them as they have their own firsthand data based on personal experience.

I had better results with Zillow than Rentometer, although both can be used together.  Rentometer's radius was grabbing properties that were not comparable to the house I was looking to get rent estimates on.  With Zillow, you can zoom in on the exact neighborhood and set your own criteria, which also includes number of baths.  I only used the free version of Rentometer so I cannot speak to it's full capabilities.

Use every resource you have though, Zillow, Trulia, Rentometer, Craigslist, Apartments.com, etc and come up with your own estimate.  Another thing to keep in mind is the "days listed" number on these rentals.  If you are using a rent comp from a house that has been listed for 45+ days, the price may be too high.

You have to look at actual comps in the area that you are renting at the time that you are pricing your rental.

The online tools are usually rough estimates at best.

@Don Thornton , a few thoughts.

  • PM Should Know:  If this is a full-time PM, they should know their markets or at least know how to pull their own comps.  Especially if they have hundreds of units, they have their own 100% accurate database to pull from.
  • Pull Your Own Comps:  Consider doing your own due diligence by researching Zillow and other listing sites.  Don't go off the Zestimate, scroll through listings that fit your parameters of property (size, beds, quality, location, etc.).  You should only need 5-10 to determine a reasonable range.
  • RentRange:  This is another option if you want a quick analyzer.  They'll pull in your city and zip code's hi/med/lo rents.  It'll cost about $15-20 but it should give you a quick ballpark.

RentRange has been best for me.  It's based on actual rents.  Not what someone is thinking they will get.  It also gives you a list of comps to research the condition if you want to refine it further.

I use a promo code which brings the price down to just over $10.

You can also use BAH calculator, but that's not going to be as helpful...but it's another data point. You'll also need to understand how the housing is calculated to get an idea of where your property fits..

I think the most accurate way to determine rent is to look for available properties and see what they're asking. Then compare them to yours. I use that plus rentometer, craigslist, zillow and any other sources I can utilize. I also will ask nearby property occupants what they pay in rent if I can find them out in their yard and willing to chat. Sometimes if there's not enough comparables, you have to just "go fish" by trying a rent price you feel is reasonable and see if someone bites. If not, drop it down until you get it rented. In my experience, the rent "Zestimates" are far more valid than Zillow property values.

They both work ok....IF...IF you are looking at actual real comps that are up for rent and match your unit. DO NOT use their little algorithm that posts how much it should rent for..... totally bogus just like the property value they post.

Pretend you are a renter and visit every site you would be scanning if you were looking for a unit...... compare all the comps to your property and use that

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