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Zillow makes big move into rental services

New tools allow renters to apply to unlimited properties for flat fee and pay rent through its portal

Zillow is at it again, aiming to take more ground in the rental market. This week, the online real estate giant rolled out new online tools that allow renters to apply for multiple rentals with one application that includes a background check and eviction history through Checkr and credit reports through Experian.

The new functions also allow renters to pay rent through Zillow. Yes, you heard that right. Pay rent directly through Zillow, which will then pass the funds directly along to the property manager or owner.

"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."

According to Zillow, there are 35 million renters who visit Zillow’s rental sites and mobile apps each month, each of whom–if they're not just window shopping–typically need to file about three applications with an average cost of $40 each.

With its new tools, Zillow is angling to jump straight in the middle of all that mess and allow renters to pay a flat fee of $29 for an all-encompassing application they can send to as many properties as they may be interested in during a 30-day period.

Additionally, Zillow will be collecting rent payments from renters, who can choose the payment type (debit or credit) that works best for them. The payment system also allows renters to set up automatic payments.

"Property managers no longer need to collect payments, instead having them delivered directly by Zillow Group," the company states.

According to the company, these new products are part of the company's effort to build an end-to-end solution that allows renters to complete the entire transaction using Zillow. The company said that once its rollout is complete, renters will be able to search for properties, schedule tours, apply, sign a lease and pay rent all from within Zillow itself.

This is a massive move into property management services for the housing giant, and it will be interesting to see how the market responds to these new offerings as many of the owners and operators of smaller multifamily properties may leap at the prospect of increased access to renters and a ready-made payment platform.

We want to know what you think: is Zillow overreaching or is this the best thing since sliced bread?

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