Renters singing: Zillow Matchmaker, Matchmaker make me a (landlord) match


Post title–Renters singing: Zillow Matchmaker, matchmaker make me a (landlord) match

After the relentless beatdown a lot of landlords took in the years after the market crashed, I’m always happy to hear good news for owners.  I just learned that Zillow has gotten into the matchmaking game between landlords and renters.  Prospective renters are now able to create Renter Profiles to pique the interest of landlords and property managers.  Profiles include qualifications like a personal bio, employment, references, reason for moving, self-reported credit score, and desired amenities.  In other words, renters now have a widely accessible tool to market themselves to landlords.

To be honest, I’m quite tickled that this is even “a thing.”  Not only that, I’m ecstatic that it has caught on like wildfire.  In the two months since this option has been available, the number of renter profiles that have been created has surpassed 1,210,000.

When the world economy almost went off a cliff, many renters were either forced or voluntarily chose to live with family.  Some even shared a unit with more roommates than they would have preferred–just until their economic situations improved.  Housing density reached levels Americans hadn’t seen in a long, long time.

The pool of qualified renters who were actively seeking rentals became soul-crushingly limited for longer than I care to remember.  The handful of renters (and buyers) who were not adversely affected by the global meltdown were living the life of Riley and cherry picking only the best of the best offerings.  More modest rentals would remain vacant for months and months.

John Cusack yearning for recognition in

John Cusack yearning for recognition in “Say Anything”

I hate to have to tell you this, kindly renter, but sometimes some of you acted like mean girls.  Or snooty prom queens.  Few rentals were ever good enough for you.  Some of us as landlords even went so far as to show up at your house holding a boombox over our heads blasting Peter Gabriel.  Just to win your favor.  All of it was for naught.  Our perfectly respectable rentals sat empty for months while you were riding around town in the captain of the football team’s new convertible (which he did not even buy on his own, by the way.  It was a gift from his father.  So there.)

One prospective renter came for a showing of my unit during those dark times and asked me, “You’re gonna paint this place, right?”  I told her, “Every room was re-painted three months ago and it’s been vacant since then.”  She shrugged and said, “Well I don’t like this color.”  It was antique white.

I won’t even get into how this market affected the behavior of the current renters I had at the time.  When the rent was three weeks overdue and I would find out that cousins and boyfriends and prohibited pets had moved in, I would stop by with questions.  A knock on the door and a frustrated inquiry from me would result in a weak excuse and a shrug.  Some tenants took on the attitude, “You better stick with me, ’cause you’ll never find another who’ll treat you the way I treat you, baby.”  Knowing what I knew about the state of the market, I would walk away humming the old Johnny Taylor tune “It’s Cheaper to Keep Her.

There has been a gradual but massive swing toward stiff competition for rentals.  More of the pressure is being placed on renters to market themselves and to choose quickly before the next applicant beats them to it.  Much love to the readers of this post out there who are renters, but you gotta understand: in human interactions, one side or the other will always be proverbially sitting at home on a Friday night waiting for the phone to ring.  We as landlords got tired of it always being us waiting for you to call.

From Mike Wheatley’s June 16, 2016 Realty Biz News article “Zillow adds renter profiles to help renters stand out from the crowd

“As inventory remains tight and demand grows, there’s more competition than ever in the rentals market, which is why it’s imperative for renters to be able to act fast and jump on listings they’re interested in,” said Jeremy Wacksman, Zillow chief marketing officer. “Most landlords are inundated with multiple inquiries for each property, so a renter’s best strategy to stand out is to engage first and provide a complete picture of their unique qualifications. By offering this feature, we’re helping renters reach out to more landlords with less effort, eliminating some of the stress that comes with searching in a competitive market.”

Now, so to speak, landlords have lost a little weight, toned up, gotten contact lenses, quit the chess club and started using Proactiv.  And our daddies have gotten us new Mustangs for our 16th birthdays.  All of a sudden you can’t seem to get enough of us.  Sooo, you say you want to meet us after work to arrange a showing?  Let us take a look at your profile first and we’ll get back to you.

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