2021 was a wild year for Internet Listing Services (ILS) companies like the Zillow Group, Zumper, and Apartments.com owner CoStar. Tenant Turner looked at inbound lead data from 2021 and found that the vast majority of leads nationwide came from 7 online sources. Many of the sites will post your ads automatically if you’re using a syndication feed from Buildium or Tenant Turner, so it’s no extra work on your part. Below we’ve called out some of the best free and paid rental listing sites based on where your prospective tenants are actually finding residential rentals.
In 2019 Zumper came out of nowhere to replace Zillow Group (which includes Zillow, Trulia, and HotPads) as the ILS that generated the most tenant leads on the Tenant Turner leasing automation platform. Then, in 2020, Zillow Group regained its crown and strengthened its position through 2021. It’s not quite the 2017 and earlier years when the Zillow Group accounted for about 78% of tenant leads, but they are the clear leader for the year and are growing market share.
A closer look at tenant lead source by month reveals that Zillow Group and Zumper vied for the top position through much of 2021, with Zillow Group taking a more definitive lead toward the end of the year.
How did this happen? In September, Facebook Marketplace stopped accepting rental feeds from Zumper which was driving a significant amount of their tenant lead traffic. Shortly after Facebook made that decision, Zumper started charging for listings which reduced the number of listings on their site and therefore tenant leads generated. Before October 1st, Zumper was free for all non-featured single family rental listings. Now, they only allow up to five free listings per month.
It wasn’t just the Zillow Group that benefited from this shift In 2021. CoStar, Realtor.com, and Apartment List did also. RentPath has been stagnant but was recently acquired by RedFin and hopes to inject new life into Apartment Guide, Rent.com, and Rentals.com.
CoStar is making the largest leap through acquisitions and now owns a long roster of sites, including Apartments.com, Homes.com, HomeSnap, Houses.com, and ForRent.com. Realtor.com has maintained steady growth but still represents less than 7% of tenant leads. Without an acquisition, their growth will likely stay incremental. Zumper and Apartment List have each raised over $150M in VC funding, Both closed on their Series D in 2020 and now they account for about 5% of tenant leads each. We’ll see how they continue to invest to grow their market share. RentPath has a lot of catching up to do, but after being purchased by RedFin for $608M in April of 2021, they have a shot to have more of an impact in 2022.
Here is the full list of the 7 best rental listing sites for property managers for 2022:
#1: Your Property Management Website
Putting your current listings on your site serves two purposes. First, it’s an opportunity to display all of your vacant rentals in one place, with details and full-color images. Users can browse all of your listings in one place.
Second, putting listings on your site improves SEO. If someone is searching for a property in your area through Google, your listing will appear higher in the search results, provided you’ve included the right keywords.
A couple things to keep in mind:
- Make sure you compress and resize your images so they don’t slow down your site.
- Images, and listings in general, should be mobile-friendly. Most people do their online searching via mobile.
#2: Zillow Group
The Zillow Group includes Zillow, Trulia, and HotPads. While there are many free alternatives, paying Zillow does have perks. It will distinguish your ads over others by marking them as “Verified Listings” that appear at the top of search results. Zillow also offers paying customers premium support and nightly listing updates.
#3: CoStar Group
CoStar Group has the largest and fastest growing network of listing sites, including Apartments.com, Homes.com, HomeSnap, Houses.com, ForRent.com and many others. In short, there’s something for everyone. The sites also accept syndication feeds, as well so, there’s no extra work for you to expand your listing’s reach. It’s free for single-family rentals or buildings with fewer than five units.
This site is well trusted and it’s been around since 1996. While Realtor.com is for both sales and rent listings, it powers another rental listing site called DoorSteps. Tenant Turner, however, found that only about 7% of tenant leads came from Realtor.com in 2021.
When you list with Zumper, your listings also appear on Padmapper, a site serving Canada and US, where users enter a location and price and get a map of listings in the area.
#6: Apartment List
If your target lead is looking for a white glove rental search experience customized to their personal preferences, Apartment List provides that. The search functionality makes it easy for renters to find rentals near a university or search by keywords such as luxury or cheap. Technically, it’s free to list on Apartment List through Tenant Turner, but they also offer a more robust pay-per-lease plan.
#7: Social Media
Don’t underestimate the power of your social media platforms. You can post your listings as they become available across all of your accounts. Tools like Hootsuite, let you schedule posts and post on multiple sites simultaneously.
Get creative with your posts. Post in Facebook groups related to your area. Stream walkthroughs on Facebook Live of IGTV on Instagram.
If you’re on Nextdoor, don’t forget to post there, too. Nextdoor is a hyperlocal social media platform where users join their neighborhood. It boasts about 27 million users monthly.
Finally, don’t underestimate the power of building an online persona and making it personal. Show your face, talk about your favorite aspects of a rental, and, of course, be clear about how users can contact you. These channels may become increasingly important as online rental listing sites continue to change.
At this point we would recommend against posting to Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. Both platforms contain fraudulent listings posted by scammers. Be sure to watermark your photos and avoid posting to these sites.