Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

Industry Relations Podcast: Impact and Consequences of the Zillow Lawsuit

What happens when a real estate giant like Zillow takes legal action against their own clients?  Things get a little complicated as Rob and Greg explore the issues of the delicate balance of being a participant, vendor and MLS organization (sometimes all at the same time!)

***Disclaimer – Due to MLS Aligned being a consulting client of Greg, the views expressed on this podcast are Greg’s opinions and DO NOT represent the views of MLS Aligned.***

Rob and Greg discuss the recent Zillow lawsuit against two MLSs, ARMLS and Metro MLS, which alleges control over technology distribution and the practical implications of not being integrated into the MLS member portal and how it affects the functionality of platforms like ShowingTime. Greg gives his own first-hand experiences with MLS system integration and Cloud CMA.

They explore what could be the potential impact on competition and the challenges faced by MLSs in making integration decisions.  And can MLS organizations choose who they do business with or not?  Mountain? Molehill? Listen to Rob and Greg try and grapple a tricky situation as only they can.

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This podcast is produced by Two Brothers Creative 2024.

What Zillow got right and wrong about the launch of ShowingTime+

From Inman News: Real estate agents weigh in on Zillow’s ShowingTime+ debut

“The brand, dubbed ShowingTime+, is the latest development in Zillow’s ongoing attempts to build a “housing super app.” As it’s name implies, the brand includes popular showing management platform ShowingTime, as well as other offerings such as dotloop and Bridge Interactive. When the company announced the move Monday, it framed ShowingTime+ as an effort to win over agents.

But in the days following the announcement, the response from industry professionals has been mixed at best.”

I’m not sure this “mixed at best” statement is that fair. I mean, how many agents did they really talk to? But I do have some thoughts about what I think Zillow got right and wrong with the launch.

What they got right.

I think it’s super smart to put the teams together. ShowingTime, dotLoop and Bridge Interactive have a ton of smart people so getting them to work together as one makes a ton of sense. I think this move alone was worth the effort.

What they got wrong.

First, I think there was a missed opportunity in the naming. Never mind the lazy addition of a “+” to the end of ShowingTime, which I’ve already joked about. It’s been a minute since the acquisition of ShowingTime and things seem to have settled. But leading with the name “ShowingTime” has seemed to have caused agents to bring out the pitchforks again. Don’t get me wrong, I think ShowingTime is a great company and service, but it now has…baggage. I have to think either renaming ShowingTime or at least giving the umbrella brand (bundle?) a new name with ShowingTime underneath might have been a better option.

The final thing is a head-scratcher for me. Leadership. Why isn’t Errol Samuelson leading this effort? I don’t know Jun Choo. He seemed to have impressed Zillow’s leadership and has some OG creds, all the way back to HouseValues.com. Maybe Errol didn’t want it? But all these products touch MLS in some shape or form and I’ve always thought of Errol as one of the best product guys in the industry. That’s who I would want as my quarterback.

Looking for a new gig? [SPECIAL RESO RETREAT EDITION]

The people at ShowingTime are looking to hire.

“ShowingTime, the leading showing software and market stats service provider for the residential real estate industry, is hiring for a wide range of positions that require deep technical knowledge and hands-on experience in the real estate space, with specializations in software engineering, data management or data analysis. Prior experience with RETS and Web API is a major plus. We offer competitive benefits and compensation, full remote work support, and exciting opportunities to innovate.”

If you are interested, please reach out to them at careers@showingtime.com

CoStar buys Homes.com

CoStar Group to Acquire Residential Listing Site Homes.com

“Unfortunately,” continued Florance, “current residential listing sites do not serve the interests of homeowners or their agents as they focus on selling advertisements on top of agent listings and increasingly offer competing brokerage services. These sites generate a portion of their revenue from directing potential homebuyers away from the listing agents to unrelated buyer agents that are advertising on top of listing agent listings. This is a practice we plan to no longer continue. Our plan in bringing Homesnap and Homes.com together is to help agents market their listings in support of the ‘your listing, your lead’ philosophy – which stands in contrast to most players in the industry.”

$156M seems pretty cheap when you compare to the ShowingTime deal at $500M and Homesnap deal at $250M. I guess I thought they were bigger than they were.

I still don’t know how CoStar makes any money selling only to listing agents, without IDX going away, which is problematic think this “your listing, your lead” rhetoric is still problematic towards MLS and organized real estate. There might be an interesting culture clash with many in the company.

What some may not realize is that Homes.com (due to them previously being remax.com’s MLS data supplier) has one of the largest, if not the largest MLS data aggregation platforms in the space, and now all that data is controlled by CoStar.

What everyone (including me) is missing about Zillow’s acquisition of ShowingTime

I was talking with a tall and smart MLS exec (he made me write that) about the negative response from agents and brokers about Zillow buying ShowingTime, and why it’s not going away anytime soon.  He said, that the underlining issue is not about the privacy of data, but more related to Zillow now being a broker in nearly every MLS market in the country.

“Greg, what agents and brokers are really pissed off about is their money contributing to the bottom line of a competitor.  Their MLS, which they pay dues to, is now pro-actively funding another broker’s business.”

Now, you could argue if Zillow is really competing with the average agent, but when you shift to “Zillow is now a broker”, it cuts both ways.

Capitalism

Well it seems Zillow’s recent move to acquire ShowingTime has motivated other vendors in to the space.

Trusted Real Estate Partner SentriLock Delivers SentriKey Showing ServiceTM, the Industry’s First Real Estate Experience Management Platform

More than a year ago, SentriLock and its volunteer board of directors, chaired by Bob Goldberg NAR CEO, observed the consolidation occurring in the showing service space. “Our board directed us to develop a solution to address the growing lack of choice in this technology sector, given the natural fit with our current lockbox business,” said Scott Fisher, Founder and CEO of SentriLock. “With recent industry acquisitions, this validates the decision that a trusted partner is needed more than ever to ensure REALTORS® have a choice in showing service solutions. We did this with great success in the lockbox space 18 years ago and look forward to extending this approach into showing services.”

This is a playbook SentriLock knows well. The “Trusted Real Estate Partner” vibe is a bit much though. I think we can all read between the lines.

And speaking of reading between the lines.

Homesnap Announces Development of Showing Management Tool

“Yesterday, news broke that Zillow has entered into an agreement to acquire ShowingTime. Real estate professionals use showing management tools every single day, and they trust that software with information about their clients.

First off, “Announces Development”? At least they are being honest it’s vaporware.

And then there’s this…

“At Homesnap, we believe that agents should have tools that protect that information and their client relationships. That is only possible when an independent vendor is providing that software — not a market participant like Zillow who is their competitor.”

An “independent vendor” owned by a public company worth over 35 Billion? Gimme a break. It seems apparent that HomeSnap vis-à-vis CoStar has gone all-in on using fear as their main marketing tactic. You do you do CoStar, you do you.

All this fear mongering reminds me of something I over heard.

“Agents raging on Facebook about the Zillow acquisition of ShowingTime are giving QAnon conspiracies theorists a run for their money.”

Then Morgan Carey of Real Estate Webmaster’s chimes in with, Build a showing time competitor? How hard can it be?

Pretty fucking hard Morgan. What Scott and Mike built isn’t easy, almost impossible.

Now I’m just waiting for Remine to issue their press release about some showings vaporware they are working on and the industry can collectively yell, “Bingo!”

Listen, I get it. During periods like this there is a ton of opportunity. That opportunity is going to turn in to competition, and that will yield better products. That’s capitalism. I love it.

But can we drop all the fronting? If you have done a better job solving the problem of handling real estate showings, let’s see it. Otherwise, shut up and get back to work.

Zillow acquires ShowingTime

Zillow Group will pay $500M to acquire home touring tech company ShowingTime

“ShowingTime has a network of nearly one million agents across North America and facilitated more than 50 million showings last year. Its software is used by 370 Multiple Listing Services. The 225-person company also produces market reports.

Zillow will take advantage of ShowingTime’s technology for its Premier Agent business. The Seattle company said it plans to keep ShowingTime as an “open platform” available to anyone, much like it has with previous acquisitions including Dotloop and Bridge Interactive.”

It’s great to hear about good things happening to good people. Scott and Mike are two of my favorite people in the industry. Good on them!

This is a huge move. Zillow didn’t just buy a software application they bought an entire category. An entire operating system if you will. ShowingTime is the defacto standard in how organized real estate does showings, period.

There’s a lot to unpack here, I’m going to have to fill my “thinking glass”.

ShowingTime adds the option to schedule virtual showings.

Conducting Virtual Showings with ShowingTime

The spread of COVID-19 has affected almost every aspect of our lives. Communities have shown themselves to be resilient, however, and so too have real estate professionals. Responding to the challenge imposed by the pandemic to continue to serve their clients in a safe, responsible manner, agents have incorporated streaming video technology to offer showings while adhering to social distancing best practices.

I’m a little late to some of this news but I’m just loving how a lot of vendors are stepping up their game during this crisis. ShowingTime in particular. Adding a way to schedule virtual showings is a no-brainer. Plus the showing data they are tracking and publishing is fascinating.

Flexmls has a way for agents to schedule Virtual Open Houses. Remine has announced a soon to be launched feature to create a Live Open House via their mobile app.

MLS organizations like Stellar MLS are putting together handy guides to help their members show the different options they have in their Matrix MLS systems along with best practices.

Black Knight is also launching live streaming options as well.

I’m sure I’m missing a few other solutions here but it’s great to see the old proverb of necessity is the mother of invention come to life in the real estate space.

ShowingTime acquires CSS

ShowingTime Acquires Centralized Showing Service, Accelerating Its Growth with Enhanced Offerings to an Expanded Audience

“Chicago, IL, September 06, 2019 –(PR.com)– ShowingTime, the real estate industry’s leading showing management and market stats technology provider, announced today it has acquired Centralized Showing Service to better serve the needs of clients in the residential real estate industry.”

Holy shit! This is huge news. ShowingTime has made a number of acquisitions over the years but this is on a whole other level. Congrats to both companies.

ShowingTime

My thanks to ShowingTime for sponsoring Vendor Alley. ShowingTime is the Showing Management and MarketStats technology provider for 900,000 real estate agents in more than 250 MLSs.

MLSs, listing offices and agents that use ShowingTime make it easy for agent to schedule showings. Their MarketStats product hailed as “The best in the country in showing statistics”, by Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of REALTORS(R).

Recently they added a new sales executive, Maria Burud. Maria joined the company as their Senior Vice President of Sales. Previously Maria worked at ADP, Infinium Software and Placeware. You can read more about Maria here. Welcome to the industry Maria!

Thanks again to Michael and Scott for your sponsorship.

Sponsored By Giant Steps Advisors