Zillow Group today debuted new features that let people pay rent and apply for apartments through its website, the latest example of the Seattle tech giant’s move to cover a bigger portion of the home rental and sales processes.
Landlords can now, through an existing Zillow Rental Manager service, accept applications and rent payments through Zillow. Renters pay a fee of $29 for an application that includes a background check and credit analysis and can be used as many times as they want within a month. Then, once they’ve secured their place, renters have the option to pay via credit or debit card and set up automatic payments through Zillow.
The landlord end of the services are free, and along with the application payment to cover costs of credit and background checks for renters, Zillow charges a small processing fee for people paying rent via credit card. The services are now available nationwide.
Zillow developed these new features because renters want the process of finding a place and paying their rent to move online and be as easy as ordering groceries, the company said. More than 35 million renters visit Zillow and its affiliate sites and apps each month, giving the company plenty of data when deciding where to go with its rental services.
“Renters tell us they want the entire rental process to happen online, from search to application to payment,” Zillow President Jeremy Wacksman said in a statement. “However, most landlords don’t have the resources to offer these services. We’re excited to provide the technology to help renters and landlords have a better experience.”
For much of its existence, Zillow has been a marketplace focused on real estate advertising and data, arming renters and buyers with the knowledge they need about the market while connecting them with the best local agents. “We sell ads, not houses,” Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff declared in a conference call with analysts three years ago.
But that has certainly changed recently, as Zillow has moved further into disrupting the often painful process of buying and selling homes, and now renting. Last year, the company launched Instant Offers, a service meant to connect home sellers with investors. Earlier this year, Zillow expanded that program to jump directly into home sales and rebranded it Zillow Offers.
The program kicked off in Phoenix in April, and Zillow expanded to Las Vegas in June. Market number three is Atlanta, and the company hopes to start buying and selling there this fall.