Real estate agents weigh in on Zillow’s ShowingTime+ debut

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A new chapter in perhaps the most polarizing story in real estate began earlier this week, when Zillow unveiled a new brand that will include some of the industry’s most beloved tools – and was designed as a olive branch for agents.

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

But in the days following the announcement, the response from industry professionals was mixed at best.

“Just another way for them to steal our customers’ information. No thanks,” Officer Jonathan Brubaker said in the comments section of Inman’s Facebook page.

To understand that reaction, you have to grasp Zillow’s sometimes-charged, sometimes-successful history with agents. It’s a story that goes back years via things like the Premier Agent lead generation program, and took a left turn last year when Zillow announced plans to buy ShowingTime – until then the industry’s most popular broadcast management platform. Many agents criticized the acquisition, expressing some concerns about how Zillow might use their data.

Over the next year and a half, the continued friction between Zillow and certain agents served as the backdrop for a number of other major industry stories; some applauded the demise of Zillow’s iBuying business, for example, or rooted for CoStar in its beef with the portal due to lingering concerns about Zillow’s relationship with industry professionals.

Ultimately, conversations the agents had with Inman this week suggest that the launch of ShowingTime+ did not immediately allay those concerns. In fact, some reacted critically to the news, while others were confused. But while it’s clear Zillow remains a polarizing force, others have suggested the company and agents have a potential opportunity on their hands.

Skeptical reactions

In an email and subsequent phone conversation with the Inman, Calif.-based realtor, Alan Glasband described himself as a “pioneer, drummer” for the Premier Agent program for many years. But he ended up walking away from his relationship with Zillow upon realizing “they were actually trying to take over my business.”

Alan Glasband

“[So in the ShowingTime+ announcement] when they said they thought they should have an agent-only division. [I was] like, ‘you must be kidding me,’ he said. “For example, you call me five times a week, asking me to join your First Agent group and telling me that you have zip codes for me. If there were no agents, they would already be off NASDAQ and they would have gone bankrupt.

“So yeah,” Glasband added, “I don’t like Zillow at all.”

The comment again highlights how the response to ShowingTime+ news is colored by many years of history between Zillow and the agent community. And Glasband was not alone.

” Let’s be clear, [Zillow] wants to remove agents altogether, they want data control to learn how to do just that,” real estate agent Matt Miller commented on Inman’s original story about ShowingTime+.

Sam Shafer

Other agents were significantly more positive about Zillow as a company, but still lukewarm about ShowingTime+ itself. Sam Shaffer, an agent in Chicago, was among them. Shaffer told Inman he’s had “a lot of success with Zillow” in the past and continues to spend money on marketing with the company. But he also acknowledged that the acquisition of ShowingTime last year had made agents nervous, and added that the launch of ShowingTime+ this week had caused some confusion about the brand’s purpose.

“I actually reached out to my Zillow rep, just to get some further clarification that there won’t be any type of change with the user experience now. He said ‘no,'” Shaffer explained. “It could be just what he’s telling me now, and then suddenly Zillow tomorrow could be saying something totally different.”

He ultimately concluded from these experiences that ShowingTime+ “is kind of a nothing”.

An opportunity in the making

Although the jury of the agent community is still on ShowingTime+, some in the industry have called Zillow’s latest move an opportunity.

Nick Solis

Among them, One80 Consulting Group founder Nick Solis – who said he wholeheartedly avoided embracing or rejecting Zillow – told Inman that there are benefits for agents “when data talk to each other”.

“The brokerage, the industry, the agent, the world is crying out for a more integrated platform where everything talks to each other,” Solis added. “They are past the days of focusing on single sign-on as the holy grail. The industry is calling for this kind of vertical integration, and the community that uses Zillow products will benefit from what they do.

Realtor Group chief Tim Collom made a similar point, noting that in a slowing market, agents have a unique opportunity to guide the hands of tech companies — and Zillow has the opportunity to listen and improve. .

Tim Collom

“Now I think the opportunity is to partner and collaborate with some of these companies and say, ‘What are the needs of agents? What are the customers’ needs?’ And no, ‘How can we monetize something?’ he added. “People are now going back to basics, and I think technology can help us be more agile.”

But as Zillow launches the ShowingTime+ brand and works to win agents, there’s only one problem: the story.

Specifically, Solis said the biggest challenge moving forward with the brand is driving adoption among agents who are in some cases frustrated.

“Unfortunately, just because of the way people think of Zillow, it’s kind of the wrong company to deliver a vertically integrated experience,” he said. “I mean, they can do it, but just adding more products to their existing offering isn’t going to change people’s hearts and minds.”

“They need to change the way they interact with the industry,” Solis continued. “They need to change the narrative.”

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