Atlanta agents skeptical of Zillow deal

by Timothy Inklebarger

The news that Zillow is purchasing ShowingTime for $500 million sent shockwaves through the residential real estate industry in February.

The online scheduling platform reports that nearly 1 million agents use ShowingTime in North America, and the app facilitated more than 50 million showings in 2020. That’s why so many traditional brokers now worry that Zillow will collect ShowingTime users’ information and then use it to help edge them out of the market.

Hundreds of Atlanta Agent readers responded to our survey about the mega-deal. Practically all of the respondents (94%) said they use the app, and more than a quarter (28%) said they are dropping it. The majority of users (56%) said they are uncertain whether they’ll continue using ShowingTime, while the remaining 16% said they will keep using it.

Of the users who said they’ll find another method of scheduling showings, the vast majority (89%) were unsure how they would replace the app. Some respondents said they’d do things the old-fashioned way: “I will use the phone, text or email like I always have!” 

Zillow said in February that purchasing the app would help increase tour volume and transactions for its agents, adding that many of them already use ShowingTime. The company also noted that ShowingTime would “maintain its existing data privacy policies.”

Despite the public statement, Zillow has some heavy lifting to do to develop trust among its users. Most users (90%) said they are concerned that ShowingTime will share their information with Zillow.

One ShowingTime user gave this take on the deal: “Zillow is going to be a, probably a formidable, competitor in the digital world. I think that is where we are heading. No sense helping make their path smoother. ”

Another said they believe the purchase shows Zillow is building a one-stop-shopping experience for real estate. “I believe that Zillow is trying to produce a platform for a consumer ‘all-in-one’ experience. However, this can’t replace a Realtor standing by your side looking after your best interest. ”

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  • andrew says:

    I’ll tell you what this means. Let’s start with how Zillow now charging rental properties that want to get listed. They know the end consumers often use zillow for rentals. Because rental property owners and managers know this as well, they have to go to zillow to keep the interest high on their rentals. Let’s take it a step further. Going forward, how are agents supposed to check market rates for rental listings when all the data is in zillow? We all know zillow has a plethora of data and uses it to sell back to agents (in other words, they use data to sell it to somebody, not to make search features robust and helpful for the end consumer). We are going to soon lose the ability to do actual market research on rental listings. The question then becomes how do we? We have to go on zillow. And who will have the best access to this information? Zillow agents. Now that zillow is a brokerage, they now will be the only company that can actually use the data from zillow. Everyone else will have to pay for that data or just won’t have access (unless you join zillow)

    Let’s apply this to showing time. What we have is a huge registry of users that provided data to show average showings a week, feed back, and just a complete knowledge of activity of any market in north america, in real time. What does that mean? For now, no other company will be able to compete with that kind of information. Any new company that tries to replace showingtime probably won’t gain national traction like showing time has. So what you have is a bunch of small, local tech companies that can’t unify data and create a huge picture of the overall national market activity. Not a huge deal, except when zillow decides to later change the policy on showing time. They can charge more for non-zillow agents, restrict data to non-premium agents, charge per home for non zillow agents (like they do for their rental listings which is a daily fee), they can use the showing time data to further hyper focus on the ibuyer program in which they are already strong at. Areas with more showings? let’s spend more ibuyer marketing further squeezing all the agents out of the long game. There is no winning here. In fact, I don’t know what NAR is doing to keep agents competitive. Makes me reconsider my membership…. a bit unrefined, but hoping to get brains turning.

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