Zillow Reveals It Is Now Harder To Find a Rental Than a Job — What’s Complicating the Process?

Unhappy frustrated couple sitting on couch with cardboard boxes, eviction stock photo
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The process to find a rental apartment or home has always been grueling, especially in large metropolitan areas. But now, as rent prices are the highest they’ve ever been, more than two-thirds of recent renters said getting their current rental was more difficult than getting a job, a new Zillow survey finds.

See: Average American Renters Can’t Afford Starter Homes — Where You Can and More Ways To Up Your Chances
Explore: Should You Still Buy a Home in Today’s Market?

The new survey found that one reason making it so difficult is that renters face intense competition despite rental prices, which are starting to fall.

“In many metro areas, declining prices are actually a correction to prices that’d become overly inflated. We saw historic levels of migration throughout the pandemic, as people switched to working from home and re-imagined their living situations,” Zumper CEO Anthemos Georgiades said in a press release. “Now — with a turbulent, unpredictable economy causing fear of recession — migrations are slowing, occupancy rates are falling and rent prices are following suit.”

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Still, among the top 10 most expensive cities for rentals, the one-bedroom median rent in New York this month was $3,860, $3,060 in Boston and $2,410 in Los Angeles, according to Zumper.

Amid this highly competitive environment, an earlier Zillow survey found that 77% of recent renters made compromises to afford their most recent rental, the most common being settling for a place that didn’t have all of the features they wanted or ending up renting a smaller home than they had planned.

But there are a few strategies that can help the process and make renters stand out amid a highly competitive landscape. According to Zillow, strategies renters used to land their home include being flexible about move-in date, with 34% saying this tactic helped.

Learn: Rent Soaring? 6 Ways To Afford It
Find: 10 Best Small Cities for Renters

In addition, 30% said paying at least two months’ rent in advance helped them win their most recent rental; 23% said that offering to sign a longer lease made them more attractive renters to landlords; 26% said that what helped was being one of the first applicants; and 29% said that having strong references helped them land their place.

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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