In this video, Chris and Eli do comparisons of the various websites that offer rent pricing services, including Avail, RentCast, Rentometer, TurboTenant, and Zillow.
Topics in this video include:
- Avail report [1:12]
- RentCast report [5:30]
- Rentometer report [7:24]
- TurboTenant report [11:20]
- Zillow [12:32]
- Which report seemed the most accurate? [16:26]
Chris Lee: Hey there, welcome to Landlord Gurus. Today we’re going to talk more about getting rent pricing and rent estimates for your rental. We previously had a video uploaded that talks in general about what it is to get rent estimates and how to go about doing that and why you should do that. So check it out if you haven’t seen it yet. Today we’re gonna go more in-depth.
Also Read: How to Price Your Rental – Video Extra
Eli has a vacant apartment unit that he’s trying to list and he started out by getting some rent estimates from a variety of different sources. He’s going to share that with us today and kind of compare those against each other and kind of compare against what he has previously rented this apartment for in the past.
So, yeah, why don’t you go ahead and get started. Give us the details about the unit.
Eli Secor: Yeah, thanks Chris. My vacancy right now is a 1 bedroom, 1 bath, in a building that was built in the 60s. So, compared to some of the surrounding older buildings, it’s got more generous proportions. Lots of closet space, rooms are just bigger. I have had a tenant in there for several years.
So when it came down to filling it, I went through and ran the reports to help me decide how to list it.
I’m gonna share my screen and we’ll take a look at a report that I ran through Avail. This report uses RentRange, which Avail contracts with them.
So it’s embedded in the Avail platform, which is a property management software platform. One of our partners. I use it for the whole gamut from advertising to screening, the rent collection, writing leases. So it’s just a piece of this. You know, I can go straight from my property detail and run a report.
Now, this one I’m working with Avail to fine-tune this a little bit. This isn’t quite as good information as I’ve gotten before on this particular unit, because somehow it set a zero search radius. So it’s not giving me all the comps that I should get. But I thought I’d show you the type of information you get.
So, based on the information it’s getting, which I think is more like county, it’s broader, it’s telling me my rent should be $1,972. I know that’s high for this unit, I was getting 1450 plus some utility and parking fees. I was looking at 1650, and trying to kind of validate my thinking there. I’ll go on to show you another property where I ran a report that’s a little more detailed. This is where the comps should be.
CL: So it’s basically showing that there are no comps. But I think that’s a glitch in the system right now or with this particular report.
ES: This particular report. I’ll show you one that doesn’t have a glitch. So, in any case, this gives you good trends for different bedroom makeups broadly in the county, and then, further in Seattle, and then down to the individual zip codes.
So that’s the median rent, which is everything included. When we have more comps and more detail, that’ll be better. Let me switch over.
Okay. So this is a totally separate property. It’s a house of about 1700 square feet. What this shows you is that within the radius, which is pretty tight, it’s at one mile, that it gives you the spread. A low and high range for your radius search tells you about where it thinks you should be priced $3,720 in this case.
And then that same information on vacancy rates and trends over time. But this is what I find to be really good information. You can see visually here in the neighborhood, you know, that the green is my listing. What else is out there? How big they are. Bedroom and bath count, square footage. You can see, where you are in that mix.
So, the first is a really small unit, but the rest of them are pretty close. Like these two, you know, B and C are in that same range. $3600 to $3900. You have a good idea of what the ballpark is and how to get your listing so that you’re in that ballpark so that people are contacting you so that you can show it and sell it.
It’s really good information. Again, this is better information here where I have a 3 bedroom, single family, which is what I’ve got here. Median square footage and price per square foot as well. That’s a good thing to kind of check yourself on.
So anyway, that’s a better example of the value. And through Avail, it can be super slick to go to listing your property that’s already in the system and ask it to give you a rent analysis.
CL: But you don’t have to enter any other information. It’s just straight from there. It takes the county records as far a, some of those details, and whatever else you’ve already got in the listing. Okay. I like the comparables, but it doesn’t really give you any other detail about, you know, amenities though, does it? So you kind of have to take your best guess as far as how your property stacks up with the others in terms of whether some have a pool or whether it has a washer dryer or anything like that.
That kind of detail you have to either try and find out separately or just take your best guess, I suppose.
ES: Yeah, I mean, it can help you refine what you go looking for. You could go search out any one of these listings on Avail or as if you’re a renter. But I want to be looking at comparables that are within, you know, 36 to 3900 square feet that narrows the research you have to do from there.
If you want to get really granular.
All right. so that is, what you can get through Avail and we’ll show you a couple more.
Here’s RentCast. I gave it the address and basic information. One bedroom, one bath, 650 square feet. It gives me a range of $1540 to 2000, which I think is pretty accurate for the area in general. Then it gives us a bunch of comps in the area. It gives it to you by the address, when it was listed and it gives it a similarity rating. I’m not sure how it does that, but you get a price per square foot, you get what type of property it is. This to me is pretty valuable.
It’s not super detailed, but I think it does give me what I need. This is not how I priced my rental. I priced it at $1650. But let’s talk about that again after we’ve looked at the others. This is just what it costs. So that was a free report, that I just gave you.
And the other details that you can get for that $12 a month, I suspect are going to be more like some of these others we’re going to look at.
CL: Maybe it’ll give you more comps to look at and maybe a finer range of rent prices as well.
ES: Yeah, I don’t know that I am too dissatisfied with five nearby rental comps.
Although I guess the more you have, the more distribution you see. I think you’re probably right that it could give you better information.
CL: So when you entered this one in, were you able to list amenities and things like that? Or is it just pulling the size and number of bedrooms and bathrooms?
ES: The latter. Yeah, just size a number of bedrooms and bathrooms.
CL: So you would have to adjust based on the feature specific to your unit.
ES: Right, yup. So I’m looking at the things that the paid subscription does give you. Market insights, I probably should have paid for this one as well.
Maybe we’ll come back and do that another time. But I think you’re going to see some overlapping types of information. These other reports would be similar. So let’s try this.
This is Rentometer. This is one that a lot of property management companies use and they embed it in AppFolio or some of the more in-depth software products that they have.
So, I did give them a little more information. You do give them the rent price that you’re seeking up front, which I think is fine. Because it kind of gives you a health of your asking range, you know, are you in the ballpark? Unless you set how far, you can go back and look, and also set some ranges for what kind of information you want to get based on the size of the unit and the pricing and that type of thing.
So, here, you get a good visual of where the comps are, which is plenty. This covers, I mean, Chris, you work in the same area that I do. So, you know, you don’t need to go beyond this really, I don’t think, to see comparables. Those neighborhoods are pretty representative.
CL: That might change in different cities or different towns where you’re at, but here in a denser place like Seattle, you probably get enough comps from a smaller range.
ES: And the neighborhoods, there are variations. So you do want to look at what is right in your direct area. One thing that this product has is it knows the neighborhoods.
Meaning it assigns with the neighborhoods. I don’t know exactly, except that it probably refines information from the neighborhoods that draw comps from the neighborhood that you’re in and the nearby neighborhoods. So it knows it’s in the Fremont neighborhood.
This pulled 50 comps with one bedroom, one bath. Again, it gives us a range and kind of a median. And I think it’s kind of nice to see here what the rent distribution is. However I will say that what this looks like to me is that it may be skewing toward the square footage of the property. Because if you see here, this is higher prices. I doubt these are one bedrooms. I mean, I guess maybe they’re really new one bedrooms that are high end. But, these comps are being pulled up in this model, I believe, as well as some of the others by some really high end stuff.
I had suspected that it was two bedroom, two baths, but I don’t know that for sure. In theory, this should just be one.
CL: It says there at the top. Based one bedroom, one bath. I think you’re right. There might be some newer construction that it’s pulling from. And the fact that there’s like 15 of them or something, maybe there’s a giant building that has gone up.
ES: Yeah and this is a 1960s building. A brand new building with a fitness room and rooftop deck is going to be a lot more expensive.
CL: It helps to have that median, and with the distribution, you can ignore all those ones on the right. Otherwise, it’s more on what the distribution looks like.
ES: And you can tell here what the percentiles are. So, the median is, the sample mean, 1786, again is pretty similar to that. So it does suggest that they’re kind of getting some similar information, even though that RentCast estimate was much simpler than this.
You’re still in the same ballpark. Here’s a more detailed visual on where those comps are coming from and the breakdown of square footage, price per square footage, and kind of the nature and listing date.
CL: You could probably even go check out the place that had the higher end of the rent and see what’s going on there.
ES: Yeah, you could, actually, you can click on any one of these properties. This is a PDF, so I can’t do that, but you can look at the individuals. And then, this is pricing. So, I’m on this free, 7 days. It’s actually a little more affordable than the RentCast pricing which was $12 a month. But you don’t get quite as much until you bump up to some of the higher levels. So, you know, with the free trial, I got the whole pro report. So that’s what you’re getting if you pay, for the full report.
Here’s TurboTenant, which is one of our partners. RentCast is as well. And, the cool thing about this is that it’s free, which is my favorite price. So again, it’s a very simple amount of information. I just gave it the address and 1 bedroom, 1 bath. The average rent appears to be what the average rent on the other reports were.
It doesn’t give you any more detail than this really. So you can’t go to the other listings and look at them. But, you do get some pretty good information still. Yeah, I think that’s all I had for that one.
But, you can go directly from a listing on TurboTenant and then pull up this rent estimate report from there. So in the process of going to list your property, you can pull this up. Pretty simple.
CL: Simple and free. And if you’re already using TurboTenant, it’s probably super easy.
ES: Right. Yep. And there are also lots of ways of looking at comps. I’ve run these reports sometimes, but for most of the years that I’ve managed rental property, I’ve looked at Craigslist and Zillow and the others. I just search as if I’m a renter.
So, you have to kind of know what you got and what you’ve been getting. That’s going to inform how you use this. You know, if you’re just starting out, you may have to feel your way a little bit more once you know what your place is really worth. But, these give you a good indication of what’s happening in the market and you can place yourself in that.
This is what you get with Zillow if you pay for their new premium package, which includes more prominent placement in rental advertising and some voodoo that they’re giving you to help you rent your place more quickly. That, so far, I haven’t experienced, but apparently you get more exposure.
Along with that, you get a market survey. So their Zestimate, they put a Z on everything, is a little higher. But it gives you a pretty similar range. I guess the top end is a little higher here. But again, 1500 to 2000 basically is what we’ve been seeing.
Zillow, with this pro-level report, it gives you quite a bit of information. It gives you the snapshot there, your median, 1800, is the highest. It gives you distribution on how many listings are out there and how you compare. So yeah the median of comparables is 1800.
So this is interesting actually. And that’s kind of what it might lead you to believe you should be asking, but here’s what most of the distribution, in comparables is. So this is what most property managers with units like this are charging.
That’s how they’re pricing their place. Again, this gives you a very similar visual on where the comparables are. The price per square foot is a good rule of thumb. And, you know, obviously, 349, the square foot, is on the high end. You want to be in the mix.
So, this was me asking 1650 again. This is what they were suggesting, I price that at 1812. But as you can see, that’s a little bit on the high side, per square foot. You know, if I was just pricing per square foot, I’d be looking around and saying, “Well, maybe I ought to be in the 225 to 250 range, to be competitive and get the place rented.
I don’t think this is particularly valuable. Well, it is good to know what people are searching for. This does bring amenities into the mix a little more. This is certainly true to my experiences. If you don’t have a dishwasher, you’re gonna lose a lot of potential renters.
So the units that I’ve had that I didn’t have dishwashers in, I’d put ’em in. This is validating there. Unfortunately, a balcony I can’t add. But, you know, it tells you what people are looking for.
CL: It tells you what the other listings are offering, which will help you determine what pricing your units should be in.
ES: Oh, you’re right. And it tells you the price ranges that the renters are searching on.
CL: It’s for the whole city, though, which is interesting.
ES: Well, it’s the whole city, but it’s for 1 bedroom apartments. So, at least it’s in the ballpark. I am pretty suspicious of the information on the annual income.
I suspect that’s limited to the people that actually are willing to give that information. But this, renters price range, I think is probably pretty good. If I’m searching for a rental, I’m going to say, well, I don’t want to spend more than this and probably anything under this price range is not going to be good enough.
I think that’s pretty good information. That is the gist of it. Those are all of them that I ran. Really, that’s most of them that are out there. I think I didn’t get RentFax. I looked at RentFax and I was going to run that. And frankly, the website didn’t seem like it worked right. It wasn’t easy to use, so I didn’t do it.
CL: Okay. So, out of those five or so reports, which felt to you closest to what you were actually going to list it for? Or did it change your listing price? You know, you had specified in some of them 1650. Did you go ahead and list it for 1650? Or did you change it based on some of these things?
ES: I rented it for 1650. I think Rentometer is probably the best information. Zillow is pretty good. But as you know, Zillow has been all over the board with their pricing. So this used to be free and now you don’t get it unless you pay the $30.
So that makes Rentometer look fairly reasonable. I mostly just kind of confirmed where I am with this. I didn’t change it. I’m lower than what all of these suggest I price.
CL: It seems to be able to know that, okay, well that unit’s listed for so much because it’s got a pool. And I don’t have a pool. Or, to be able to adjust your own listing based on what you have or what you don’t have, would be helpful, if you knew what those other listings actually did have.
ES: The amenities. A more detailed comparison.
Well, I mean, if nothing else, it can tell you what to promote in your advertising. You know, you can realize, well, I know there’s a balcony and yeah, I mentioned it, but it doesn’t make it into my headline. For example, maybe that ought to make it int, my header so that I grab those people.
I always put a dishwasher in the header because there are enough old buildings here that don’t have them, that it’s a differentiator.
But I use this as very general information. And then, what I’m priced at 1650 right now, I’m getting a steady stream of people who are interested. It’s a fickle time of year right now. I think I’m probably gonna have to lower it a little bit. It’s a strange time, you know, it’s the fall, people aren’t doing that much. Rents seem to be, coming down or softening a little bit.
I’d say, using one of these is a good way to check your thinking. And maybe adjust your advertising approach. Maybe adjust your pricing and just know you’re in the ballpark, find where the ballpark is so you can be in it solidly.
CL: Okay. Well, cool. That’s all really interesting information. We will have links below the video to those products that Eli checked out.
You can see for yourself and use them if you like. Yeah, again, my only sort of departing comment would be that you have to adjust based on a bunch of different factors, which we talked about in that video.
Just to make sure that you get a better, more accurate representation of what that price should be.
Also Read: Rent Pricing: How Much To Charge For Rent?
ES: Yep. Arm yourself with knowledge.
CL: Yep, exactly. All right. Thanks for watching. Check out the video, check out the other videos, like and subscribe, and check out the links below. Thank you.
ES: Thanks. Bye bye.
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