Within minutes of Zillow’s announcement Wednesday that it would take over show management and analytics firm ShowingTime for $ 500 million, dozens of real estate agents began complaining to express their frustration with the deal and concern about what it means for their data.
Ed Bohrer, a Coldwell banker broker in Libertyville, Illinois, was among them. Bohrer told Inman that he has used ShowingTime in the past to manage appointments with customers, but that he now plans to abandon the platform.
“I’m not going to use it now,” said Bohrer. “When I add my posts, people will call me or text me directly. It will be more work for me but I am not going to use it now. “
Bohrer’s comments summed up the reaction of many real estate professionals who weighed in via Facebook groups and in comments on news on Wednesday. Like drills, many of them have mentioned using ShowingTime in the past, and the platform is popular. Among other things, agents can coordinate how they bring their customers into real estate and provide data for agents, companies and Multiple Listing Services (MLS).
Regarding Zillow’s acquisition of the company, Errol Samuelson, Zillow’s Chief Development Officer, told Inman that there are currently challenges in the industry. “We can use technology to fix these, not just for our partners, but also for our premier agent customers for the industry in general. “
Samuelson also compared the purchase of ShowingTime with the acquisition of the transaction management platform Dotloop by his company. This deal was completed in 2015.
Agents who spoke to Inman on Wednesday also brought up Dotloop, although the settlement gave them cause for concern. For example, Bohrer said that he wasn’t happy when Zillow acquired Dotloop because he viewed the deal as the portal’s potential gateway to its transaction data. Coldwell Banker’s technology is built into Dotloop’s, so Bohrer continues to use it. However, this is not the case with ShowingTime.
“As I am currently at Coldwell Banker, I have no choice on the platform I have for e-documents,” he said. “It works seamlessly with Coldwell Banker’s back office. However, with ShowingTime I have a choice. I can choose not to use this platform. I can choose to have people text me for appointments. “
Bohrer added that he believes “You will see an exodus” from ShowingTime.
Tamara O’Connor, an agent at Premier Living Properties in St. Charles, Illinois, was also critical of the Zillow ShowingTime deal on Wednesday. She told Inman that agents put a significant amount of data into ShowingTime and that she is concerned that Zillow can now use that information.
“It’s all the data from every customer who has ever been on Earth,” she said, adding that she envisions a future where Zillow could use that data to take away “customers from traditional” real estate professionals.
For his part, Zillow has indicated that the deal should not change the way ShowingTime handles data and that existing privacy policies will remain in place. Additionally, Samuelson told Inman that “our customers shouldn’t worry” about how their ShowingTime data is being used.
“When users enter information into ShowingTime that supplements the data we are already getting from our MLS relationships, it is private information that they enter into the product and that is not visible or accessible to any other party,” said Samuelson. “It is only used for scheduling purposes. So nothing has changed on this subject. “
In a statement, a Zillow spokesman told Inman: “Safety is a top priority for both the Zillow Group and ShowingTime.”
However, many agents were not convinced that Zillow would ultimately not use their ShowingTime data.
“No, I don’t believe you,” said O’Connor, the sound of resignation filling her voice. “I’m sorry, not me.”
Bohrer was also skeptical. “There’s no reason to get a company like this unless you plan on doing something with it,” he said.
Another Washington, DC area agent who asked not to be publicly identified also said he anticipated that Zillow would eventually fall back on the data.
“It’s all about big data, they’ll collect whatever they can,” said the agent. “You’re going to use it because it’s valuable information.”
Despite concerns about the deal, not everyone was critical on Wednesday. In the Inman Coast to Coast Facebook group, several people spoke to either congratulate the various parties or to argue that they had taken wise steps.
“They do excellently what technology companies do,” concluded one commentator.
“It’s still a great product made by good people,” said another. “I’m happy for you.”
However, within two hours of the news being posted, the story had made nearly 100 comments and the general consensus was negative.
“Incoming antitrust lawsuit,” predicted one person.
“Sacred data collection,” said another. “That makes me nervous.”
“I don’t think this is a good thing for anyone except Zillow and the people who put Showingtime together (who bought their competitor CSS),” said another person.
Patrick Vandenberg – an agent at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Sturtevant, Wisconsin – also criticized the deal. Speaking to Inman on Wednesday afternoon, he described the acquisition as the latest step in Zillow’s evolution, away from a tool that helps agents.
“It’s just a matter of corporate greed that they’re moving in the direction of replacing the people they were designed for,” he said.
Like others who spoke to Inman, Vandenberg defined the acquisition of ShowingTime as the next chapter in a story that also includes Dotloop. And he likened Zillow’s gradual expansion to a train slowly moving towards the rest of the real estate industry.
“It’s like a train is coming towards you in slow motion and you’re on the track and you don’t know how to get off the track,” he said. “The traditional franchise model will disappear. They just don’t know yet. I’m not sure you can stop this train. “
Update: This post was updated with additional information from Zillow after it was published.
Email Jim Dalrymple II