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Zillow accommodates growing pool of renters

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Zillow.com launched a new feature Thursday that helps potential renters find prices on properties in a nationwide network of 90 million homes and apartments. Rent Zestimates operates like Zillow's standard Zestimate, offering users a variety of prices to compare and contrast in any given area. Landlords can also use rent Zestimates by searching rental prices in their specific area in order to formulate a fair asking price. Zillow said the company expanded its price estimation platform to reach a new sector of targeted user. According to a Fannie Mae survey, U.S. households are changing the traditional patterns of homeownership throughout the country with more openness toward renting. Although 51% of survey respondents said the housing crisis has not affected their overall willingness to buy a home, 33% said they would be more likely to rent their next home than buy. In January, 30% of Americans surveyed said they would rent a home the next time around. The survey also found that homeownership rates among young adults (ages 25 to 29) are decreasing. "Buyers and renters are not exclusive categories — many people are considering both options when shopping for a new home," said Spencer Rascoff, chief executive officer of Zillow. "Similarly, many would-be sellers in today's housing market are considering whether to become landlords rather than sell at a loss." Zillow began listing rental properties in late 2009. The Seattle-based company has rental listings on 300,000 properties, although it has rental estimates on 90 million even if they are not on the market. Rent Zestimates are available on map searches and individual home detail pages on the company's website and all company mobile applications. Write to Christine Ricciardi. Follow her on Twitter @HWnewbieCR.

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