BAM Key Details:
- Renters in some markets can now instantly book apartment tours with Zillow, choosing a time that fits their schedule and locking it in without needing to contact—or be contacted by—the apartment manager.
- In some locations, renters are asked to select a few dates and times, and the apartment manager will then lock in a specific date and time for their tour.
Renters in some markets can now instantly book apartment tours on Zillow.com and the app. In ongoing efforts to improve the tour-scheduling process, Zillow Rentals now enables renters to automatically schedule tours like they schedule a medical consultation or a restaurant reservation.
Zillow announced this convenient feature as one that sets it apart from competitors like Apartments.com.
Here’s what you need to know.
58% of renters prefer booking apartment tours without actually contacting a human
According to Zillow’s Consumer Housing Trends Report for 2022, 71% of renters recently reported taking up to four in-person apartment tours before choosing one.
Over half (58%) said they prefer to schedule these in-person tours online rather than calling the property manager. Zillow now allows apartment shoppers across the country to do just that: book a tour without the delay and relative inconvenience of getting in touch with another human.
With automated tour scheduling, renters can lock in tours for the apartments that interest them, at times that work with their busy schedules, without waiting for responses from property managers.
Touring is a major milestone in the journey of finding a rental, and it’s due for innovation. Allowing renters to instantly book a tour removes barriers and delivers a more seamless and convenient experience for renters and property managers. Freeing up the time it takes to coordinate schedules allows renters to focus on finding their perfect place without worrying about when they’ll get a chance to see it, and gives property managers valuable time back for other important tasks.
Seems to be catching on
More than 2,600 apartment listings on Zillow allow renters to directly book apartment tours. And more rental properties are adopting the technology.
Soon, renters booking an apartment tour on Zillow will be able to choose the type of tour they want—whether in-person, self-guided or live virtual.
Aside from this feature, renters on Zillow can take advantage of other free perks to streamline the process of shopping for their next home. For one, they can create a Zillow Renter Profile, which allows them to save their favorites and potentially expedite the screening process.
Even before they book an in-person tour, renters can take an immersive virtual tour using Zillow 3D Home Tours. Available with select properties, this feature gives renters an inside look at the properties that interest them, allowing them to focus on the best options and get into their next home more quickly.
That said, this option is not universally available. In some areas, renters can request a tour on Zillow and choose a few dates that work for them, but they can’t lock in a specific day and time. The apartment manager still contacts them to arrange the tour.
And in some markets, Apartments.com still reigns supreme.
In some markets, Zillow’s got nothin’
These new features are available only on properties that list with Zillow and enable these features. That, unfortunately, leaves quite a few rental properties in the dark.
For example, at the time of writing this post, the admittedly small (but growing) town of Zimmerman, Minnesota, has at least four solid options for apartment rentals, according to Apartments.com. ApartmentFinder.com lists the same four properties.
Zillow, however, has nothing at all for Zimmerman apartment seekers.
Apartment shoppers can create a profile on the Apartments.com site and add any options that appeal to them. They can also request a tour by filling out a short online form that doesn’t allow them to choose a specific date and time but asks them when they would be able to move to a new apartment.
Once they’ve submitted the form, they then wait for the apartment manager to contact them and set up a tour—or, in some cases, add them to a waiting list (if there are no units available).
So, while they’ve yet to offer instant tour booking, that could change.
In the meantime, though, Apartments.com has a distinct advantage over Zillow—as well as other options like Rent.com and Apartmentlist.com: it actually has apartments to choose from in the exact location specified by the renter—not an hour’s drive (or further) away.
Of course, in a different small town, Zillow might have the upper hand.
The lessons here for renters:
- Check them all.
- Don’t assume the website with the best tech has the best apartment options.
Top takeaways for real estate agents
Anything you can do to make the lives of your clients, your potential “someday” clients, and your community richer and less stressful should be on your radar by now.
So, while you can’t do everything for them (home shoppers know they’ve got work to do), you can share what you know that could positively impact their home search, even if the home they’re currently searching for is a rental.
Imagine the surprise their friends and family will feel when they learn that a real estate agent helped them find the best apartment.
You don’t know when a renter could decide they’re ready to invest in a home—or in a rental property. By building a relationship with them, you create possibilities for referrals as well as a future agent-buyer success story.
In the meantime, they’ll remember who pointed them toward the best apartment they could afford in their area.