User Guide

Install SFR Spotter Extension

SFR Spotter is a Chrome extension. It can be installed on top of Chrome browser on any operating system, i.e. Windows, Linux, MacOS or ChromeOS. It can also be installed on any chromium browser, which includes Opera, Brave, Vivaldi and Microsoft Edge among several others.

To install the extension, follow the steps below:

  1. Go to Chrome Web Store and search for “SFR Spotter”, or simply click here.
  2. Click ‘Add To Chrome‘ button and accept the requested permissions.
Screenshot from SFR Spotter page on Chrome Web Store showing how to install extension

Once installed, it’s recommended to pin the extension icon to the address bar. To do this, click the puzzle icon to the right of Chrome address bar and click the pin icon next to the SFR Spotter icon.

Create account and sign in

You need to sign up for a SFR Spotter account before you can sue the extension. To do so, follow the steps below: 

  • Click the SFR Spotter icon to open the extension popup window.
  • You can use your Google account to sign in directly to your account.
  • Alternatively, click on ‘Sign up’ and enter a new username and password to create your account.

Scouting settings

After you successfully sign in to your account, click the extension icon to open the popup. You’ll be presented with the scouting settings page by default. This is where you tell the tool how to find profitable rental properties within Zillow search results.

The scouting settings are:

  • Down Payment: this is where you set how much down payment you’re willing to pay in percentage of total property price.
  • with max. of: this is where you put a cap on the down payment. Set this to maximum amount you can pay down for any property. Leave it empty if you don’t want a cap on your down payment.
  • Mortgage Plan: this is where you choose the suitable mortgage plan for you.
  • Interest Rate: this is where you set the mortgage interest rate you can get. This would depend mainly on your lender and your specific situation.
  • Property Tax Rate: this is where you estimate the annual taxation rate in percentage of the total property price. This rate would vary between different counties.
  • Annual Insurance: this is where you estimate how much you’ll be paying for home insurance annually.
  • Target ROI: this is where you set your cash-on-cash ROI target. Listings with ROI higher than this value will be marked in green. Others will be marked in red. More on this below.

Don’t forget to click ‘Save’ after you finish editing your scouting settings.

How to scout for rental revenue?

Scouting process is done in two simple steps. The first step is simply to click the ‘Scout’ button located on top of Zillow results screen and watch the magic happen.

Screenshot shoing the location of SFR Spotter scout button

The app evaluates all listings in the search results at once, which can go up to 40 listings. This evaluation is performed in two scenarios:

  1. If you buy the property by the asked price.
  2. If you buy the property by the Zestimate price.

The number you see on top of each image represents the cash-on-cash ROI, the highest of the two scenarios. If the estimated ROI is above the target ROI set in the scouting settings, the listing is marked with a single check mark and the number is highlighted in green. Otherwise, the listing is marked by a cross mark and the number is highlighted in red.

Now you’re clearly able to tell which properties are good potentials for investment and which are waste of time to check or analyze.

Screenshot of Zillow search results with ROI evaluations on them

Detailed Property Analysis

So far so good, right?

Yes, but we’re not quite done yet!

The second step is to get into each “green” listing’s page to perform detailed analysis on it. The first step provided preliminary analyses while making two preliminary assumptions, which are:

  1. All listings taxation rates are the same and as set by you.
  2. All listings have zero HOA fees.

Of course, in very rare cases, both assumptions are true, but most of the time, they’re not. This is why this step of checking each listing is crucial.

Opening the listing’s page reveals its HOA fees as well as its precise taxation rate as provided by Zillow. This allows for detailed analysis like the one shown in the screenshot to the right.

The number on the listing’s image within the search results is also updated according to this analysis. Properties that are fully analyzed are marked by double checkmarks. 

Screenshot of the property analysis widget showing initial investment, monthly costs, monthly rent zestimate and annual cash-on-cash ROI in two scenarios

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Frequently Asked Questions

SFR Spotter uses Zestimate rent for rent estimation.
No, but it's highly recommended to keep it 20% or higher. Most lenders will charge you for mortgage insurance if your down payment less than 20%.
This basically happens after opening a "green" property page and analyzing it in details. At this step, HOA fees and the property specific taxation rate are acquired and plugged into the calculation. If the HOA fees are relatively high and actual taxation rate are much higher than your assumption, the property evaluation flips from the preliminary green to the final red.