Zillow Now Lets You List Rooms Rentals - Are Housing Costs Really That Bad?

It seems that, yes, it is that bad.
Updated July 11, 2024
Fact checked
for rent sign in front yard of house in street

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As rent and mortgage payments continue to consume larger portions of Americans' income, Zillow has announced a new room listing feature. 

The housing affordability crisis, exacerbated by the pandemic, has seen U.S. rents increase nearly 30%. Amid this financial strain, Zillow has launched an initiative to facilitate shared living spaces that could provide much-needed relief.

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The affordability crisis

According to recent statistics, the income required to comfortably afford rent for the median renter has increased by 40.6% since before the pandemic, reaching $79,264.

This surge in housing costs has forced a growing number of Americans to seek alternative solutions to alleviate the burden on their finances. With 32.2% of U.S. adults living in shared households, the demand for affordable housing options, including roommate arrangements, has never been higher.

This comes at a time when housing affordability was at its worst in more than a decade during the fourth quarter of last year, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

The NAHB/Wells Fargo Opportunity Index shows that only 37.7% of new and existing homes sold in October through December of last year were affordable to families earning an income of $93,000 — the U.S. median income.

What Zillow is offering

Zillow's introduction of room listings expands its rental offerings, allowing renters to search for and list individual rooms alongside traditional rental options. In short, you can rent out single rooms in your home or apartment through Zillow.

This feature simplifies the process for those seeking shared living arrangements, catering to a market segment facing significant housing affordability challenges. Currently, 50% of renters spend 30% or more of their income on housing expenses.

A beta test was launched in November for the service, and there are already about 10,000 single-room listings available worldwide.

Who might benefit?

The new room listing feature is particularly beneficial for renters, especially Gen Z and millennial renters who make up the majority of the market. A survey conducted by Zillow revealed that a significant portion of younger renters feel uncertain about finding roommates when needed. 

With 60% of respondents reporting it harder to find a good roommate than a romantic partner, Zillow's platform aims to ease this process by connecting renters with potential roommates.

Moreover, homeowners and landlords also stand to gain from this feature, as it provides an opportunity to generate additional income by listing available bedrooms. In a housing market characterized by unpredictability, this newfound flexibility offers homeowners a means to offset mortgage expenses and enhance financial stability.

Bottom line

As housing costs continue to soar, finding affordable living arrangements becomes increasingly challenging for many Americans. Zillow's room listing feature addresses this pressing issue by offering a platform where renters can easily search for shared living spaces, thereby reducing the financial burden on individuals and promoting greater housing affordability. 

With the potential to transform the rental landscape and provide relief to millions of renters across the country, Zillow's initiative represents a significant step toward addressing the ongoing housing affordability crisis by helping people pay for their rent.

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Author Details

Georgina Tzanetos Georgina Tzanetos is a former financial advisor who has been active in financial media for the past six years. She holds a master's in political economy from NYU, where she studied distressed labor markets.