Saying many renters are likely to become homebuyers, Realtor.com operator Move Inc. has begun posting apartment rentals from Move.com alongside the for-sale listings Realtor.com receives from more than 900 multiple listing services.
Realtor.com previously carried listings for single-family homes for rent, but directed users searching for available units in multi-unit apartment communities to Move.com. Apartment communities on Move.com will automatically be listed on Realtor.com at no additional cost to apartment community advertisers, the company said.
As part of the integration of Move.com apartment community listings, Realtor.com is also providing a new "rent vs. buy" calculator. Visitors searching for apartments on Realtor.com will also be shown nearby homes for sale that are said to be as affordable as renting.
By including high-density apartment communities in rental searches, Realtor.com will help consumers compare their rental options to homeownership while building connections with real estate professionals, Move CEO Steve Berkowitz said in a statement.
"As renters are searching for housing, they might not realize homeownership could be within their grasp," Berkowitz said, noting renters may also be new to the area or in transition.
Three-quarters of first-time buyers in 2010 were renters just before purchasing a home, and half of all buyers rented an apartment or house immediately before making their home purchase, Move said.
According to demographics compiled by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, most people 25-30 are renters, while two-thirds of householders are homeowners by 40.
"As renters save for down payments and begin the qualifying process to buy their first or next home, we believe they will return and look at homes for sale on Realtor.com," Berkowitz said.
Realtor.com users who are only interested in units in apartment communities can exclude homes for rent from their searches, and search for apartments by location, price range, apartment community or unit features. Detail pages for apartment communities can include downloadable rental applications, and can be shared with friends via email, Facebook and Twitter.
Six websites focused primarily on rentals — Rent.com, ApartmentGuide.com, MyNewPlace.com, Apartments.com, Rentals.com and ForRent.com — were among the Top 20 most visited real estate sites in September, according to rankings compiled by Experian Hitwise.