Experience the difference of "Elite".

zillow and background checks?

Rich S
Feb 10, 2019 10:58 PM
Joined Dec, 2018 301 posts

I did a quick search and didn't see anything in the forums about Zillow. Would it be possible to incorporate a zillow link to each guest address so that we could more easily take a glance at the house our guests live in? I know that I can copy/paste, but having it appear in a report or better yet in the booking email would be terrific. Just checking out where my guests live might give me some idea about the kinds of questions to ask. I suppose this could be misused too, but I'd rather have more information than less about my guests.

In the same vein, is it possible to incorporate into OR the ability to do some kind of background check? Such as publicdata.com? With long term leases I'm always doing research before renting, but with these vacation rentals I do pretty much nothing. Seems like having a custom/automatically generated report on bookings would be a helpful thing to have. I'd imagine there would be a subscription involved or a per search cost but maybe with enough people doing it the cost could be manageable.

Paul W
Feb 13, 2019 10:41 AM
OR Team Member Joined Jun, 2009 800 posts

For sure. Create a custom field definition called Property Zillow Link (with short code PXZILLOW) and then fill in that Zillow URL in that new custom field on every property. Then, in your email templates, you would use that PXZILLOW short code to have it dynamically inserted.

We've looked into background search API/partnerships in the past but back-burned it. We were in serious discussions about it at one point. One of the big problems is that they are pretty expensive. The buy rate is about $30 per report. For most VR users, that isn't cost effective. Even at half or a third of that, it would still cost too much to be effective. There are some public APIs we might be able to use to auto-fill guest data and we've looked at this too but haven't moved forward.

Rich S
Feb 13, 2019 11:55 AM
Joined Dec, 2018 301 posts

I'm not following how this would work, can you give some more specifics? I'm familiar with setting up the custom field itself (eg: for keycodes) but that requires manual update per booking. That's more work than just doing the search myself.

I did a quick google search and I don't know that it's even possible to preformat a link to zillow as a url (eg: www.zillow.com/homes/123 smith street, anywhere, US)... Seems that it needs to be done with an API call.

It would be fine to get an email that is preformatted, so all I have to do is click and inspect the result. What I'm looking for is automation that saves steps and helps ensure I get interrupted (by an email is fine) with either the summary or at least a link.

I didn't think (and still don't) that the zillow API has a cost.

I can send you a detailed workflow that shows how to use POST (or GET) to retrieve property details, but that's more complicated than I am thinking.

I don't mind doing more research on this, but if your suggestion to use custom code + automated email template can be set up one time so it works for all new bookings, that would be sufficient. I'm going to have to personally view the webpage anyway, I can't avoid that step, just want to avoid needing to manually update each booking.

Paul W
Feb 13, 2019 12:16 PM
OR Team Member Joined Jun, 2009 800 posts

You can set up property level field codes, not just booking ones. Create a property-level field code called PXZILLOW and then you'd enter the Zillow URL (or even just slug) for each property one time. You would then embed that short code anywhere you want to use it.

Rich S
Feb 13, 2019 12:47 PM
Joined Dec, 2018 301 posts

Okay, I think I see the source of the misunderstanding ....

I'm not wanting to share a zillow link to my properties
I'm am wanting to get a preformatted link to the property address of my guests

For instance, Guest Jim Smith has address 123 Sanders Street, Anywhere TX 11111

I'd like to see the zillow listing for that address. Maybe it's not his home (meaning he rents) but it's helpful nonetheless to get some sense of the address that my guests list. What I do with that isn't always clear of course. If someone is living in a mobile home for instance would I do anything different? Of if their house is a 5M estate in Key Largo? Who knows... It just helps add some context to the messaging that we exchange. Maybe the only situation that would raise a red flag would be if the address is fraudulent.

In any case, I don't think there is any way to format a link using just a property address. This kind of link works: https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/218-Pompano-Ln-Surfside-Beach-TX-77541/26540342_zpid/ but it only works with the zillow ID at the end. I think that as recently as 2010 it was possible to access zillow at an arbitrary address using the URL, but that seems deprecated now.

I guess that in my case what I could do is send an email with the address to my crm and then do all the zillow searching in the background . But that wouldn't help anyone else of course.

Let me know if I'm still missing something. the missing key here is WHAT the url would need to look like, and HOW to create it from the fields for booking address + the fixed parts.

Paul W
Feb 13, 2019 1:02 PM
OR Team Member Joined Jun, 2009 800 posts

Gotcha. Yeah, that's a totally different thing.

This appears to work:


That's just an address with "_rb/" on the end.

And I've confirmed that with other addresses just now too, so that should work for you if the formatting of the guest address works right in the URL they way the guest has typed it.

Feb 13, 2019 4:04 PM
Joined Jun, 2018 385 posts

I was under the impression that there was one or more black lists of bad guests on Facebook. Dunno where.

The concept of looking at a guest's place is actually brilliant. Or perhaps Street View of Google maps. imagine if their house was an empty lot or nonexistent. It might help uncover the occasional scam.

Rich S
Feb 13, 2019 6:38 PM
Joined Dec, 2018 301 posts


you're right!

Is there anyway for y'all to create a token that would take the address as it comes from VRBO and morph it into the full zillow url? So that I could make an automated email that is sent to me at booking?

Seems like it would only need to replace spaces with the hyphen and append _rb/ at the end

Miles T
May 21, 2022 10:40 AM
Joined May, 2022 19 posts

Here is a new background check service for hosts. Only $5/ report. They're super fast, they don't ask the guest a bunch of questions causing them to not book, and give you a report on how the guest has behaved in previous rentals. Past is the best indicator of the future!https://checkflow.webflow.io/

Chris L
May 22, 2022 3:10 PM
Joined May, 2017 199 posts

SUPERHOG and Safely both have similar background checks both as part of their insurance product, and SUPERHOG also offers it as a standalone product without purchasing insurance through them. The issue is that they don't talk to each other, so each service's background check reliability is only as good as their own database. SUPERHOG is UK-based and apparently has a pretty sizable database in the UK but their US presence is still small. Safely seems to be a bigger name in the US but I don't think they have a background-check-only solution. I haven't heard of Webflow until now. Just be aware that these background check services aren't necessarily panaceas since only a tiny fraction of hosts use them and there's no industry-wide shared database.