Cartoon image of an agency holding a house model via computer

Real estate agents in Chicago and throughout North America have voiced concerns that Zillow will use the data it collects from ShowingTime to promote its services and edge out independent agents and brokers. Earlier this year, Zillow announced that it was acquiring ShowingTime. ShowingTime is an online scheduling platform that facilitates showings between real estate agents and potential buyers. Chicago and its surrounding suburbs real estate agents are particularly dependent on ShowingTime to schedule their showings.

What Does ShowingTime Do?

ShowingTime is an online platform that connects real estate agents and potential sellers and buyers. ShowingTime offers subscriptions for people to list their homes. Once subscribed, ShowingTime has tools that allow agents or sellers and buyers to schedule showings and meetings. ShowingTime automates some of the routine tasks in buying and selling a home.

ShowingTime maintains a network of over one million agents and hundreds of multiple listing services. According to the company, they provided more than 50 million showings in 2020.

What Does Zillow Do?

Zillow started as a marketing website to promote homes by showing their information and sales prices. However, in recent years, it began moving into new areas that indicate it is planning on providing full-stack services that could compete with real estate agents and brokers. Zillow Offers is a service that works to provide cash offers to acquire a home outright. Zillow Homes is its movement into real estate agents and brokers.

Zillow Homes inventory of houses is pulled from its Zillow Offers. Indeed, the acquisition of ShowingTime indicates that Zillow is now moving into a full-suite service that will promote homes and provide a buying and selling platform.

Potential Impact on Chicago Market

The concern with Zillow is that it will start concentrating the market, which may reduce options for buyers and sellers, resulting in a reduction in service quality. Indeed, these market moves are reminiscent of monopolistic entities, which will further entrench the real estate market’s wealthiest operators.

The concern is particularly acute among real estate agents. In a recent survey, 90% of respondents indicated that they use ShowingTime and that 23% plan to drop their subscription since the Zillow acquisition was announced. Moreover, a further 58% said they were re-evaluating whether they would continue using the service. Only 19% said they planned to continue using the service.