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Zumper: A Good Zillow Alternative?

Zumper: A Good Zillow Alternative?

There are a slew of apps that exist to make the renting process easier for renters, landlords, or both. Zumper makes renting an apartment more like booking a hotel room and less like getting a high-level security clearance. Read on to learn how.


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What Is Zumper?

Zumper is an apartment finder app available through the Apple App Store and Google Play store. It serves both renters and landlords.

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Its purpose is to help connect landlords with available apartments to qualified, trustworthy renters.

Zumper’s founder, Anthemos Georgiades, says they want the app to be the future of residential renting. Right now, apartment rentals require a lot of paperwork and time from application to move-in. 

What Is Zumper Graphic displayed on a mobile laptop and a blue background

Zumper shortens the process with a unique requirement: It pre-qualifies all prospective tenants with both an Experian credit check and a background screening. Screening costs fall on either the renter or the landlord.

This means when a landlord gets an application from a prospective tenant, they can already see that they’re qualified and move to the next step in the process. 

Zumper has the functionality to cover every step of the apartment rental process: From helping renters search for and discover apartments to guiding the landlord through the process of leasing the unit.

It’s been around since 2012, during which it’s both expanded to new cities acquired PadMapper. Today, Zumper shows real-time apartment listings in cities from San Francisco to New York City – big and small. 

It’s a great mission, but how does Zumper actually work? Is it a better option than similar real estate app alternatives? Check out our in-depth review to learn about the app’s step-by-step process, how much it costs, and what users are saying about it. 

Zumper for Renters

What makes it different: Renters just search real-time apartment availability in their city, message the landlord, and securely apply.

Zumper platform displayed on multiple devices

Image Source: Zumper.com

That’s the overview, but here’s how the process works for renters from start to finish.

  • Enter your city and state directly from the app to get a results page showing the available apartments in or nearby the city. 
  • You can toggle to change the results from a map listing to a regular list. The apartment results can then be filtered to only show units of interest by several criteria:
    • Property/unit type
    • Rent minimums and maximums
    • Bedrooms and bathrooms
    • Pets welcome
    • Square footage
    • Amenities (building and unit)
  • Do your searching right then or save your search criteria to notify you when apartments that meet your needs become available. 
  • When you stumble upon the perfect apartment, tapping the Zumper listing will give you more details about it, from photos of the inside and building to how the monthly rent for that unit compares to other units in the building. There’s also a ton of information about the surrounding city: Walk score, average rent, and more. 
  • When you find an apartment you like, you’ll tap the Check Availability button. This opens a box that allows you to send a quick message to the landlord or agent. The message is pre-written, but you can edit it if needed. 
  • After you’ve submitted an inquiry on an apartment, Zumper will ask you if you want to go ahead and complete your credit check through Experian. This can help the rest of the process go faster and smoother if the apartment you’re interested in is available. 

Zumper Credit Reports

 
Screenshot of the Zumper screening app

Image Source: Zumper.com

As a renter using the Zumper app, you have the option to let Experian run and save a “soft” credit report on you when you apply for an apartment.

The soft report doesn’t affect your credit score and gives the landlord an idea of how responsible you are with credit.

Since the report can be saved, your next application can use it, too. To run your Experian credit report in advance, you will need to: 

  1. Create an account by linking your Facebook profile or entering your full name and creating a password. 
  2. Enter your social security number, date of birth, current address, and choose 3 security questions. 
  3. Experian will run your credit report (does not affect your credit score – this is a “soft pull”), show you the results, and save the report to include along with any Zumper application you fill out. 

Your credit report will be given to the landlord of a unit you apply for, along with the rest of your application information: Where you’ve lived previously, what you do for a living, your financial information, and a few references.

After you’ve run and saved a credit report, you’ll have the option to use Instant Apply on applicable listings. Instant Apply guarantees that the landlord, agent, or apartment management will view your application for that unit. 

Zumper Pro for Landlords

What makes it different: All renters are pre-qualified, saving both them and prospective landlords a lot of time.

Landlords only receive applications from individuals who are serious about renting and meet at least a few of the minimum requirements. 

  1. When a renter finds your apartment (via the Zumper app or through one of Zumper’s syndicates, like Realtor.com or PadMapper) and is interested in applying, they’ll tap the Check Availability button next to the listing. From here, they will send a message to you to inquire about the listing.
  2. The renter will immediately be able to run a credit report via Experian. If you mark the unit as available, that report will be sent to you for review along with the tenant’s full application. 
  3. You can set up a mandatory application fee (some landlords include the cost of screening in this fee). Screening consists of a nationwide check for past evictions and criminal history. The applicant can pay it directly to you via Zumper with a credit card. 
  4. If you approve an applicant and move forward with the lease, Zumper can walk you through the process and help you schedule a time for an apartment walk-through, lease review, and signing with the tenant. 

Zumper Plans and Pricing

 
Screenshot of the Zumper pricing for various types of properties

Image Source: Zumper.com

Zumper is technically free for tenants and landlords to use. There are a few costs that either party may be responsible for, however. 

  • A landlord will be responsible for a percentage of the monthly rent, paid to Zumper for units rented through the app
  • A renter may be responsible for the cost of screening if the landlord chooses to pass on the cost
  • A renter may be responsible for application fees, which are always disclosed up-front
  • Listings in New York City may incur a cost for landlords. Please check with Zumper customer support for more information on this. 

Zumper Alternatives

While there are a few apps that provide some of the functionality that Zumper does, we aren’t aware of any that combine the renter’s apartment search with the landlord application screening and review side of Zumper. 

  • Trulia Rentals (iOS and Android)
    • Enables you to search for apartments and homes, save search criteria, contact landlords, and see local reviews of the building. It does not allow you to submit actual applications, credit reports, or background screenings. 
  • Zillow Rentals (iOS and Android)
    • Search and filter rentals (apartments, condos, houses, etc.), save searches, and unofficially apply for apartments. It does not allow you to submit official applications, credit reports, or background screenings. 
  • HotPads (iOS and Android)
    • Search and filter available properties to rent in your city and inquire about availability from the app. Get updates when properties matching your search become available. It does not allow you to submit actual applications, credit reports, or background screenings. 

User Reviews

More than 13 million people use Zumper every month. The app comes across as a trustworthy and cutting-edge option that is changing the rental industry as we know it. But it’s hard to ignore the negative reviews online about Zumper.

Some say the entire app is a scam. Others say the app has been overrun with scammers posing as real landlords. Some talk about the lack of customer support.

Su Young, Reviewopedia

“Every property I have contacted listed on this site was a scam. The homes are either NOT on the rental market; NOT owned by the person attempting to rent them; or for rent in a legit site at a substantially higher price.”

papahstax, Reddit user

“I’m currently apartment searching in NYC, and I found a place on Zumper for 50% below the median rent for that location. All utilities included, it’s a single bedroom for $1300/month.

The owner says if I’m interested then to pay first month’s rent and $700 security deposit to someone on Realtor.com (more specifics will be given once I give them my name and address).

Then they “hold and insure the money” while I get 2 days to check the place out with a realtor. Then based on my decision I keep the place or get my money back. 

Update: So i reached out to Zumper support thanks to [username redacted] advice and they confirmed it was fake. The original owner of the account had their account information comprised, which is how the posting appeared verified in the search results.”

Justyce, Reviewopedia

“I contacted Zumper over 5 days ago now to inquire as to the IP/Timestamp of the person who signed up for an account under my email address (Wasn’t me). I have yet to receive ANY reply at all. Obviously they do not have any customer service.”

Our Take

Zumper offers and interesting alternative to Zillow. Essentially, it offers the same functionality but limits the listings to rentals. If you’re a landlord or tenant, you should certainly consider using it, as in most cases it’s free.

When I was working in property management, we used this service and regularly received 10%-20% of our leads from it. Because it’s free, there’s little downside to syndicating to the platform.

Should You Use Zumper?

Overall, with so many monthly users and features in reputable online publications, Zumper seems like it could be a reliable option that is still working out a few issues with scammers utilizing the platform. 

The best course of action for users who want to use Zumper to search for apartments would be to pay close attention to the content of a listing, verify all information via phone with the landlord, and make sure to see the unit in person before exchanging money with anyone.

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