Since this is a brand new feature, and they apparently have not made any partnership deals to pre-seed it with data, there aren’t currently any listings in the Seattle area, but once this starts to get some traction, I think it has some great potential. Right now the most comprehensive way to search for rentals continues to be Craigslist, which has a frustratingly limited interface for this kind of search, and is constantly plagued with misleading ads.
Another great feature that they announced in conjunction with their rental search is the ability to directly compare monthly costs for rentals and for-sale homes in your search region.
We are also proud to offer an innovative search comparison in which home shoppers on Zillow can now search for both rental and for sale homes in their area and compare monthly costs. This new, monthly payment search filter allows shoppers to compare rental and for sale homes side-by-side based on a monthly payment they can afford, and decide what the best solution is for them.
As long as we’re talking about renting, I thought I’d mention a Seattle Times piece from the weekend that I posted earlier on Twitter: Good news for renters, buyers, but tough times for landlords
When Jennifer Worick, a 41-year-old Seattle social-media consultant and author, began window shopping for a new apartment in July, she had an ambitious wish list: She wanted a place bigger than her 650-square-foot Wallingford studio, she wanted to live in a walk-friendly neighborhood near public transportation and she wanted to lower her $1,050 monthly rent.
Typically, moving into a better apartment and paying less for it is improbable. But these aren’t usual times for the Puget Sound apartment market.
Mike Scott, of Dupre + Scott Apartment Advisors, says that landlords are facing the worst market they’ve seen in three decades. Excessive new condo inventory, job losses and home prices falling to levels comparable to rent have pushed the Puget Sound vacancy rate to 7.2 percent, up from 4.8 percent a year ago, according to Dupre + Scott data.
And rents that fell 4 percent during the 12 months through September to an average of $959 per month are expected to fall another 8 percent during 2010 and another 1 percent in 2011 before slowly turning around.
Excess inventory and falling home prices are combining to force down rents. This is pretty much exactly what I predicted would happen once the market cooled off, although the trend is definitely being exaggerated by the brutal economy. In 2007 when the local press was pushing reports about rentals being “increasingly scarce and more expensive,” warning that “rents are rising steeply and vacancies are few,” and claiming that the “housing slowdown is expected to send rents higher,” this site was alone in calling for rent increases to taper off.
It is interesting to compare the above article about the rental market to this one from just over a year ago: Demand from Puget Sound area renters sustains a ‘landlord’s market’
Despite the slightly lower prices investors have been willing to pay for apartment properties here and elsewhere of late, Hart said, it would take a real economic calamity to significantly diminish renter demand.
Seattle’s Dupre+Scott Apartment Advisors reports that rents have just about hit the highs reached before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks helped spawn a four-year slide. The firm is projecting that King-Pierce-Snohomish rents will rise 8 percent this year, following a roughly 7.5 percent gain in 2007.