Finding the perfect rental property can be a time-consuming and frustrating process, but the internet has made it easier than ever before to search for and find available rentals. With the abundance of rental listing sites available, it can be overwhelming to determine which ones are the best to use. That’s why we have compiled a comprehensive list of the best rental listing sites in 2023, including free options.
In this article, we will provide a detailed overview of each rental listing site, highlighting their unique features, user interface, and overall effectiveness in helping renters find the perfect property. We will cover both free and paid options, as well as sites that specialize in specific types of rental properties, such as apartments, houses, or vacation rentals.
For each rental listing site, we will explore the depth and accuracy of their listings, including information on rental prices, location, amenities, and more. We will also evaluate the user experience, looking at factors such as ease of use, mobile compatibility, and search filters.
In addition to analyzing each rental listing site individually, we will also compare and contrast them based on their overall effectiveness in helping renters find their ideal property. We will discuss the pros and cons of each site and provide recommendations on which ones are best suited for specific rental needs.
Whether you’re a first-time renter or an experienced renter looking for a new property, this article will provide valuable insights into the best rental listing sites available in 2023, helping you save time and effort in your search for the perfect rental property.
9 Best Rental Listing Sites of 2023 (Free Included):
1. Apartments.com – $$$$
Apartments.com is the most heavily marketed apartment site on the web today. They’ve got deep pockets as part of the CoStar mega-platform and that’s helped them consistently get listed at the top of the pile in search results. That means a ton of traffic to their site and lots of potential traffic to your listing.
Unfortunately for the landlord who pays the freight for this kind of advertising, Apartments.com knows what that traffic is worth, and they charge the full price for it. Be prepared to pay some of the highest rates in the business. And, be ready to pay for a ton of additional services, since they have something like an airline plan, where you get to pay extra fees for everything. But, as we all know, it only takes one good quality inquiry to make the listing pay for itself, and Apartments.com can deliver massive lead volume.
2. Apartment List – $$
One of the few independents in the space, Apartment List also takes a different approach than most of the other listing companies. Rather than providing easy access to listings, they put renters through a bunch of steps and questions to determine what they’re really looking for, and then serve them a selection of listings that match their professed preferences.
The good news is that Apartment List is less expensive than some of the others – you often just pay if they get you a signed lease. That said, when they determine there’s a match, they call that a lead, so watch out for a high volume of inquiries, not all of which are that interested in your place.
3. Apartment Guide – $$$
This might be the original listing service – Apartment Guide actually started off as a street corner circular! In recent years, it’s been part of the RentPath platform, but is now being absorbed by CoStar, joining the Apartments.com juggernaut.
So, it’s a little hard to say what will happen, but if you’re looking for a listing service in the near future, Apartment Guide might be right for you. We’re told it’s particularly strong on the East Coast and Southeastern U.S.
4. Dwellsy – FREE
The newest major on the scene, Dwellsy has brought a novel approach and rapidly become one of the largest listing services – some say the largest.
One of the keys to their rapid ascent is that they have a different business model and don’t charge for listings, leads, or leases. Essentially, everything that all the others on this list charge for is free on Dwellsy. And, because they only show renters organic search results, and don’t have any paid placements, their leads are higher quality.
The downside is that Dwellsy is a newer platform and doesn’t yet seem to be driving the same volume of leads that you can expect from others on this list. But, with the rapid growth they’re experiencing, who knows what they will be able to deliver in the future.
5. Rent.com – $$$
Another one of the old-school majors, Rent.com has also been part of RentPath and is also currently being absorbed by CoStar. Like Apartment Guide, Rent.com has been a solid option for many years and still seems to be one of the better choices for paid listing services, particularly on the east coast, where property managers report getting more leads vs. the west coast.
They’ve also traditionally been stronger with smaller properties, but again, with them being absorbed into the CoStar platform, who knows what’s coming for them in the years ahead?
6. StreetEasy – $$
If you’re in New York, you already know StreetEasy – they’re ubiquitous. And, until recently, they were dominant in that market. But, a few years ago, they were sold to the Zillow Group and what once was free is no longer, so their inventory has been shrinking and they don’t have quite the hold on New York that they once did.
For New Yorkers, though, it’s hard to recommend any other platform – StreetEasy still has a pretty tight hold on that unique rental market.
7. Trulia – $$$$
Trulia’s a giant in the home sales business – one of the truly transformative brands on that side, but rentals have never been their focus. That said, they do have one of the strongest “home” brands in the market and they attract a disproportionate share of the market as a result.
In dozens of renter interviews done in recent months, Trulia is the number two brand listed by most rental searchers. So, lots of traffic, but…
8. Zillow – $$$$
Using Trulia today is just like you’re using Zillow – because the two are the same! Zillow Group purchased Trulia back in 2015, and though they look different, they have common inventory across the two brands, so if you buy one of them, you get them both.
In renter interviews, Zillow is far and away the biggest brand in the space, being listed by renters as the first place they look for a rental 5x more than any other brand. All that brand strength delivers. Like Apartments.com, Zillow can deliver the volume of leads for the biggest volume properties. But, like Apartments.com, the price can also be quite steep, but you get a lot of leads for that price. Also, many property managers note that Zillow is more effective on the west coast than some others, but has less of a presence on the east coast.
9. Zumper – $$
They’ve been around for more than a decade, but Zumper still sees itself as a startup. And, they’ve recently raised $60 million from venture capitalists in a bid to become the new #3 after the Zillow Group and CoStar.
What does this mean for you? Well, they still drive less traffic than the majors, but they can be a solid value play. Their smaller scale means they can’t charge a flat rate, so you can pay only when you get a lease. For larger property managers with regular rentals, that can get expensive in a hurry, but for smaller property managers, it can make sense when Apartments.com is charging a flat rate for a property or when you need more leads than a newer platform like Dwellsy can provide.
What about the other rental listing sites?
What about Hotpads? Padmapper? Naked Apartments? All owned by Zillow now, and part of their group. What about ForRent, ApartmentFinder, Rentals.com, and Westside Rentals (for those in LA)? All are owned by CoStar which is focused on building the Apartments.com brand.
As a result, it’s tough to recommend any of those.
What about the real OG listing site – Craigslist? Fraud has always been a problem on Craigslist, but in recent years some pretty sophisticated fraudsters have really taken over, so it’s also impossible to recommend. Just too much risk, unfortunately.
Here’s our summary rundown of the options available to you:
- If you’ve got a big budget or you need a ton of traffic to keep your places rented, then it seems like Apartments.com or Zillow (western U.S.) are the best recommendations.
- Dwellsy is new and not driving as much volume, but since it’s free, it can’t hurt to list there, especially since the leads are so high quality.
- Zumper and ApartmentList are also out there if you’re not quite ready to spend the big bucks for the major-major platforms, but need more volume than Dwellsy can offer.
Good luck getting your place rented!