Getting a Fair Price on Honolulu Rentals

People are always asking me about the best way to find a rental in Honolulu (see last week’s blog about a website that promises to make this easier) and how to determine if the advertised rent is a fair price. While looking at the average costs of rentals in various neighborhoods across the island can give you an idea of what you could expect to pay—in January, I published the rental rates for the most expensive and affordable neighborhoods across Oahu— determining a fair price for a rental has to take into account the location, demand as well as size, property condition and amenities (air conditioning, furniture, parking).

In other words, it can be a challenge to figure out if you’re overpaying for that $3,000 apartment rental in Kahala, which might explain why, according to an Ipsos survey conducted last month, 61 percent of renters polled did not research fair rent prices before signing their leases. Zillow’s newly launched Rent Zestimates aims to help renters with this process.

The estimated-rent-price tool, which can be found on map searches and individual listings on Zillow as well as Zillow mobile applications, serves as an ideal starting point for determining a fair price for a rental. Pull up a listing for a four-bedroom/one-and-a-half-bath house rental on Metcalf St. in Manoa, for example, and you’ll see the asking price of $3,200 followed by a Rent Zestimate of $2,837, meaning that there may be some room for negotiation.

Zillow Zestimates are computed by using a “proprietary formula,” and take into account public property data and similar local rental listings. Of course, no system is perfect, and settling on a fair price will take into account certain negotiating factors (length of lease, for example), market competition, etc., but it’s a good place to start.