Top 5 Best Online Rental Marketplaces in the US

Renters occupy over 42 million households in the US. 

Most tend to be below the age of 35 (about 49% of renters in the US are under 30), and four in ten live alone. 

And according to data, this number might increase shortly, as 77% of people prefer renting to buying a home

Since 1975, the number of renter-occupied housing units in the United States has increased, fueled by the inability of most renters to afford a home. 

There is a need to deliver rental marketplace solutions, reflected in the growing popularity of rental marketplaces in the country.

Here are five of the most successful platforms you might use as inspiration to create your own.


Apartments.com's Online Marketplace Delivers Endless Listings for Renters 

Founded in 1987 by CoStar Group, Inc, Apartments.com comprises a whole network of rental listing websites.

These include:

  • ForRent.com
  • ApartmentFinder.com
  • Apartamentos.com
  • ApartmentHomeLiving.com
  • ForRentUniversity.com
  • After55.com
  • CorporateHousing.com; and
  • WestsideRentals.com

These nine websites grant property owners access to millions of potential renters.

As of 2020, the platform has attracted 160 million more website visits than in 2019. 

Bringing their total website views to one billion!

What Makes Apartments.com Effective?

Apartments.com allows renters to find available listings, sign a lease, and even pay their monthly rent.

The platform has more than 1.4 million listings for apartments, condos, townhomes, and houses. 

Anyone can specify their search through filters like included amenities, the number of bedrooms, and budget. 

Implementing the right search filters helps deliver a better user experience, but only about 16% of e-commerce websites implement product filtering

Additionally, the Apartments.com platform allows interested renters to apply to 10 properties for only $29.

Once they find a unit, they can digitally review and sign a lease and pay their rent and other fees online. 

Apartments.com also offers a comprehensive marketing platform for property owners reaching about 75 million renters

Among the best forms of resources that they have to attract renters are their blogs, which have been found to contribute to a whopping 434% increase in ranking higher on Google

All these combine to give Apartments.com a strong footing in the online rental marketplace.


Zillow's Online Marketplace Consumes Americans Browsing Habits

With around 36 million unique visitors every month, Zillow is the leading real estate website in the United States. 

29% of real estate traffic hits Zillow, and more people even Google "Zillow" than "real estate."

As of 2020, its gross profit amounted to $1.58 billion, and from 2019 to December 2021, Zillow's market cap grew by over 57%.

Zillow has become such a household name in the United States that, at the height of the pandemic, many Americans browsed homes on the platform as a hobby.

A survey by Surety First found that among 1000 Americans, 55% spent one to four hours on Zillow every day!

For example, 56% of the respondents said they had canceled plans with friends to look at houses.

Similarly, 58% missed a deadline because they spent too much time on Zillow!

What makes Zillow appealing? 

Some Reasons Why Zillow's Online Marketplace is So Engaging

First off, Zillow is free.

Property owners and managers can list a property for free, and users can browse through listings without spending anything. 

Zillow is one of the most downloaded apps, with nearly 16 million combined downloads on Google Play and the Apple Store. 

Additionally, Zillow is used by over 30 million rental visitors every month

People can choose from more than 135 million properties, sort listings through various filters, and get pre-qualified for financing. 

It also has a directory for real estate agents with comprehensive reviews.


Zumper's Online Marketplace Delivers Rental Leads Matched Through Artificial Intelligence 

Founded in 2012, Zumper was envisioned to deliver "the first online booking experience for long-term apartment rentals."

Today, it has about 7 million monthly users, with 179 million website visits per year. 

In 2020, it secured $60 million in funding to bring it to more than $150M; now, it has over $178 million in funding to help transform it into "the Airbnb for one-year leasing." 

Some Reasons Why Zumper is Effective

Like Apartments.com and Zillow.com, Zumper works to deliver an end-to-end experience for renters and landlords

On Zumper, renters can sort through listings, apply for an available property, book the property, and digitally pay their rent.

On the other hand, property owners or landlords can ask for assistance in finding and screening tenants, marketing their properties, and collecting rent.

Additionally, Zumper pools options for not only one-year leases but also vacation rentals. 

Users can choose pre-selected cities such as Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago.

Like the first two online rental marketplaces, Zumper also has comprehensive sorting filters to streamline searches further.

But what makes Zumper unique is its PowerLeads AI

Touted to be an "industry-first product that... [can] confidently predict the likelihood of a renter signing a specific apartment lease..." through analyzing renters' behavior, it provides leasing agents 5x more information than their competitors on unique renter characteristics.

Through their PowerLeads AI, property managers, owners, and landlords can become more efficient and create higher margins.


Airbnb Starts Providing Longer Term Rentals by Simplifying the Process 

Of course, we can't discuss some of the best rental marketplaces without mentioning Airbnb.

Since its launch in 2007, Airbnb has changed how people booked short-term accommodations for vacations and disrupted the hotel industry with its unique business model.

Today, it's being used by more than 150 million people, with around 6 million active listings in 220 countries and regions. 

But did you know that the platform also enables long-term rentals? 

What's Made AirBnb's Online Rental Marketplace Effective

Since 2011, Airbnb has allowed guests to book longer stays, but it wasn't until 2020 that the process became more simplified. 

Guests can now browse through top-rated listings at any time, replete with home amenities, WiFi, and even discounts for stays over 28 nights. 

This platform offers unique listings that are simply not available (or possible) on other rental listing websites.

Take this tree house that is suspended from a ridgeline, for instance. 

Or, if that's too extreme, a tenant can play it safe(r) and opt for one of the available tiny homes, farms, lighthouses, and even castles

Renters can also get the best of both worlds: hotel-like accommodations with a personal touch

Listings on Airbnb are mostly put up by individual property owners, meaning tenants will deal with people instead of companies.

Additionally, searching for available rentals on the platform provides specific information to aid decision-making.

When looking at a property, people will typically find markers such as "Great location," "Amenities for everyday living," etc, to help them assess the suitability of the listing to their requirements. 


Craigslist Remains a Stalwart in the Online Rental Marketplace Space

Finally, we must not forget Craigslist.

Although its design has seen little (to no) iteration, it's still one of the most popular marketplaces for rentals and post-classified ads.

250 million people visit this platform every month, and the average visitor spends about 14 minutes on the website. 

As for property owners and tenants, it's a great venue for posting and finding local apartments and houses for rent.

Some Points Why Craigslist is Still Effective

The first (and possibly biggest) reason it's still widely used is that it has been around for over 20 years

It's a strong brand.

Its longevity makes Craigslist almost a household name in the US.

In fact, Craigslist is one of the most visited websites in America.

Searching for a place is also straightforward, and comes with robust filtering options such as price specifications, included amenities, and a maximum search radius. 

Users can also create alerts.

For property owners, Craigslist is a free way to gain exposure for their rental properties. 


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