On Feb 10th, Inman reported that Zillow had purchased ShowingTime for $500 million. 

While ShowingTime advertises itself as “an industry-first, web-based real estate lead capture, calendaring and notification engine”, in practice it is often a very complicated and rarely used showing management tool for Realtors.  

My Experience with ShowingTime 

Having used ShowingTime several times while a licensed Realtor in Oregon, I found the interface to be very clunky and not at all user-friendly. Check out the < 2 minute walk-through (with no sound for now):

What’s going on in the video above? 

Here’s my theory:

Zillow purchased ShowingTime to gain access to their Pricing Benchmark data methodology, in order to make their Zestimate even more accurate. The ShowingTime usage stats are relatively useless, and the features rarely used by Realtors.  

Did you notice that none of the features show in this video were not even in use? That’s typical. I didn’t know a single Realtor serving Eugene that used ShowingTime. ONLY ONCE did I have a Realtor point me to ShowingTime. As a Buyer’s representative in this situation, the experience was awful. The lockbox didn’t work, which was the Listing Agent’s mistake, and the person at ShowingTime had no idea what to do. They told me they would contact the Agent. I did that instead, and got in the house immediately. I showed many homes in a year and a half of real estate in the Eugene area, and used this software only once.

Texting & Calling the Listing Agent Works Better…For Now

Realtors must be good communicators in order to succeed.

Much of what Realtors learn during a 1:1 text or phone call is organic and “human” – not easily automated. It is where the initial Agent-Agent relationship gets established, or is re-affirmed, prior to sending in an offer.

Automated Showing Tools Are Getting Better

Instashowing.com is a relative newbie in this niche, with no direct MLS feed integration or embedded MLS relationships (yet). Instashowing offers some interesting advantages for Realtors and MLSs looking to disconnect themselves from Zillow’s sphere of influence. The user experience is also far more interesting and modern than ShowingTime’s 1999 UI.  

What Will We Get When They Do?

Hypothetically, there are more than a few metrics that could provide Brokerages and Agents with data critical to their business:

  • Which and how many Agents were no-shows? I know Agents hate the idea of being held accountable for failures, but it’s clear that the industry needs a credibility check – for its own sake. When you’re a listing Agent, it’s incredibly annoying when a Buyer’s Agent is a no-show for a tightly booked listing. Txting, even last minute, is such an easy and respectful thing to do. 
  • Average # of showings until an accepted offerRumor has it that number is 10. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get a statistically correct number, by area – price point – etc? 
  • Property meta data (BRs, BAs, etc)/Showing count ratio. The more you know, the more you can predict – or provide a prediction that Brokers will purchase.

In Summary

Zillow will be gathering a significant amount of data regarding Showings and interactions between Realtors, but not as much information as Agents may think, given ShowingTime’s relatively low adoption rate.

MLSs can now leverage their autonomy to negotiate for contracts with 3rd party vendors like InstaShowing, vendors with no connection to Zillow. 

Hard to knock Zillow for acting rationally and purchasing ShowingTime. Investors saw it as a smart move. Z was up 10% after-hours following the announcement. In the real estate tech space, just like with the buying/selling of real estate, money talks.