A few months ago, Zillow agreed to buy ShowingTime, the largest and most widely used platform by realtors to schedule residential tourings and provide feedback to the listing agents. The platforms is integrated with most multiple listing services throughout the country. On the surface, the acquisition seems innocuous, but should you be worried? What is Zillow’s true intent with this purchase?
What is Showing time?
On the surface, ShowingTime is basically a scheduling app that allows prospective buyers to easily setup and appointment to tour a property and subsequently provide feedback on their tour. Showingtime is the most widely used scheduling program within the real estate industry. It easily integrates with various local multiple listing services to make the scheduling and feedback process easy.
Why is the ShowingTime data so valuable for Zillow?
When the acquisition of Showingtime by Zillow was first announced, many realtors did not seem concerned as they felt Showingtime was merely a scheduling app. Unfortunately, these thoughts could not be further from the truth. Zillow is run by some very smart people; they would not spend 500 million for a calendar app. They want the data that Showingtime has!
There are a few critical pieces of data that Zillow was after. When a property tour is scheduled, it shows Zillow down to the street and block the interest in a particular area. For example, let us say a house is shown 10 times on one street while another property a few blocks over was only shown twice. Zillow knows the one shown more is likely more desirable and therefore could be more valuable. Furthermore, showing time collects feedback from showings. It would not be hard for Zillow to parse this information to increase the accuracy of their instant offers. For example, if someone left feedback: Liked the house, road too busy, Zillow would know to discount the house a little based on a large road or road noise as opposed to a house in a more desirable location.
Zillow’s objective is to increase the accuracy of the instant offers to identify more desirable properties that it can sell for a profit. Anyone who thinks showingtime is merely a calendaring app has their head stuck in the sand.
What can you do?
There is already talk within the real estate industry of switching products to another provider so that Zillow cannot get this valuable information. I have seen a couple competing products floated and would expect to see a big push towards another product in the next quarter or two.
For instance, a new showing service called Local Showings is set to launch imminently, according to an announcement last week from Delta Media Group. The family-owned real estate brokerage technology firm is led by CEO and owner Michael Minard, who says its showing service is well over “90% complete.” He notes that Delta already works with MLSs that cover 97% of the properties sold in the U.S.
“We have been inundated with calls from real estate brokerage customers, non-customers and MLSs to build an independent system,” Minard says. “The industry needs a showing service that is not beholden to Wall Street.”
The acquisition of ShowingTime is one more feather in Zillow’s cap as they strive to become the Amazon of real estate. The ShowingTime acquisition is a critical piece for Zillow to further refine their data analysis of properties and increase the accuracy of their ibuyer programs. We are just seeing the beginning of the consolidation in the real estate industry as Zillow gets bigger because of their huge lead in data integration/analysis. Zillow is approaching the real estate market as a fin tech company where data will rule and the showingtime acquisition gives them one more piece of the puzzle.
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Written by Glen Weinberg, COO/ VP Fairview Commercial Lending. Glen has been published as an expert in hard money lending, real estate valuation, financing, and various other real estate topics in Bloomberg, Businessweek ,the Colorado Real Estate Journal, National Association of Realtors Magazine, The Real Deal real estate news, the CO Biz Magazine, The Denver Post, The Scotsman mortgage broker guide, Mortgage Professional America and various other national publications.
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