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An earlier version of this story was first published in February of 2021. It was updated in August of 2022.
It has been a year and a half now since Zillow rocked the real estate world with its announcement that it was purchasing ShowingTime. The news prompted an intense debate, with some in particular raising concerns about how their data might ultimately be used.
But amid the flurry of commentary, something else happened as well: An array of other companies also stepped up with alternative options for agents to manage their showings. And that was on top of several other providers that existed even before the acquisition news.
Individual agents, brokerages and multiple listing services (MLSs) ultimately have to decide which platform works best for them. But to help make some sense of the chaos, Inman has perused a number of options to see how they work. This is absolutely not a comprehensive list, and the landscape is constantly shifting. But the providers below at least offer a starting point for any industry member looking for showing management software.
Here’s what you need to know:
Table of Contents
The reason the ShowingTime news was such a big deal is because ShowingTime itself is a big deal.
In an interview last year with Inman, ShowingTime President Michael Lane explained that the company was founded 21 years ago with the goal of simplifying the labor-intensive phone calling process agents went through when they tried to schedule showings.
Over time, the company struck up partnerships with MLSs and integrated with their platforms. Today, ShowingTime boasts relationships with more than 370 MLSs (more than half) and claims to provide technology for more than 950,000 industry professionals.
Asked to sum up the platform, Lane compared the way ShowingTime works to OpenTable, the software that lets people book restaurant reservations with the tap of a button.
“It’s set up for instant booking,” Lane said, “which is like a hallelujah for buyers’ agents.”
ShowingTime’s long history also means it has had time to evolve a variety of features. In addition to appointment booking, it also has a call center and can provide a remote personal assistant. Other features include the ability to produce data-based market reports and manage leads.
Lane ultimately argued that his company’s history and diverse product offerings give it a significant edge as it heads into a new era.
“We’ve been doing this for a long time,” Lane said. “You might think an appointment is a simple thing, but the reality is there are many, many layers to what we do.”
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Inman has covered at some length the reactions to the acquisition news, so suffice it here to say that one of the most common complaints had to do with concerns over how Zillow might use ShowingTime data.
Zillow responded to those concerns by saying it would leave ShowingTime’s data privacy policies in place.
“Your buyer and seller data entered in ShowingTime are yours and may not be misappropriated for any other use,” Cooper explained. “The showing history on your properties will not be provided to anyone other than you and, if you request, your client.”
Despite such precautions, some industry pros said the acquisition presented an opportunity for ShowingTime’s rivals. Andrea Geller was among them.
“My feeling is that Sentri is going to be able to grow quickly because they’re well funded, they’re associated with the National Association of Realtors, and they already had a seat at the table,” Geller told Inman last year, referring to one of the up-and-coming platforms (see below for more on them). “I think they probably have the best opportunity.”
For his part, Lane said the acquisition should support ShowingTime’s growth. The company specifically wants to improve its mobile app and build multilingual capabilities, among other goals.
“We love the fact that they want to invest in our products and make them better,” Lane said. “The perfect outcome for a company like this is to find another bigger company who wants to take it to another level.”
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Even before the ShowingTime acquisition news, there were a handful of companies that were providing rival platforms. Here are some of them:
Texas-based agents Michael and Stacy Spickes launched TourZazz in 2018 after years of working with buyers and sellers. The couple partnered with an Austin-based technology developer to build the platform, and the idea was prompted by a sudden uptick in the couple’s work with buyers in particular. As a result, it was designed with the goal first to streamline the work for buyer’s agents.
Among other things, the app color-codes appointments, let’s agents create a schedule, drag and drop appointments, set meeting locations, invite multiple participants and even schedule breaks for snacks during a long day of showing properties. The platform also streamlines communication between real estate professionals and their clients.
“It allows you to click one button, and TourZazz handles all the communications involved,” Spickes told Inman last year.
TourZazz integrates with various other software environments, including many provided by brokerages and MLSs.
More: Visit TourZazz’s website here.
Touchbase is headquartered in Quebec, Canada, and has been around since the mid 1990s. Vice President Alain Brunel told Inman last year his company has significant marketshare in Canada and has historically focused on Canadian clients, though it also has the capacity to serve U.S. real estate professionals.
“With all of the calls we’ve been receiving we’ve decided now is the time,” Catherine Jean-Couture, a marketing specialist with Touchbase, also told Inman in the wake of Zillow’s ShowingTime acquisition. She added that the platform is designed to enable high levels of customization and that it “allows you to cut out redundant steps.”
The company has both web-based and call center support, training resources and an app, among other things. The platform additionally includes lockbox integration and tools that enable communication.
More: Visit Touchbase’s website here.
Instashowing promises to help agents book more appointments, and thereby have happier clients. William Schoeffler founded the company in 2018, and he decided to market directly to agents and brokerages because ShowingTime — which he described as “the 800-pound gorilla” in the space — was already dominating the landscape when it came to direct MLS relationships.
Schoeffler provided a live demo of his platform to Inman last year, during which he showed how agents can quickly book appointments. The platform’s interface displays basic information about a property, including a photo, alongside a calendar. Agents can choose time slots, appointment durations and enter private remarks, among various other features.
The platform can be accessed via desktop or on a phone and will integrate with MLS technology as well.
More: Visit Instashowing’s website here.
Oregon-based About Time Tours is the brainchild of co-founders Matt McCoun, who has a background in real estate, and Chris Mergenthaler, who has worked in software development. The duo launched their company in 2020, and their website describes the old process of booking home showings as “outdated, clumsy, and frustrating for all parties.”
To improve the process, the company has created a platform that, among other things, includes scheduling tools and mapping features to help agents plot out their appointments and estimate travel times. Additionally, it has in-app photography capabilities, note-taking features, and communication and feedback options.
The platform will also integrate with MLS software.
Right now, About Time Tours is available in Oregon and Florida.
More: Visit About Time Tours website here.
Systems Engineering is based in North Carolina and offers a variety of real estate software products. The company’s “NAVICA Showing Manager” lets agents schedule appointments, has calendar features, feedback prompts and other tools. It can also assist in building data-based reports, among other things.
The company markets its showing manager to both individual offices and to MLSs.
More: Visit System’s Engineering website here.
Arguably the most buzzy platform after the Zillow-ShowingTime news, SentriKey is the handiwork of SentriLock, a company that provides lockbox services and is a subsidiary of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The platform’s NAR affiliation arguably gives it an advantage in terms of resources and reach.
Speaking with Inman, Chuck Shroder, chief technology officer at SentriLock, told Inman last year that the goal was to leverage the firm’s existing technology. Today, the company touts SentriKey on its website as “a complete showing management solution.”
Other features include an artificial intelligence-based virtual assistant, feedback portals, lockbox integration and more.
More: Visit SentriLock’s website here.
Ohio-based technology company Delta Media announced a showing management platform just days after the Zillow-ShowingTime acquisition news. Today the product is known as Local Showings and the company describes it as “an independent, full-featured property showing software and service.”
The platform integrates with “real estate organizations’ existing technology,” according to the company’s website, and can be used as either a standalone product or as part of Delta’s other technology offerings. In addition to scheduling showings, agents can use the platform to gather feedback, generate reports and communicate with other agents.
More: Visit the Local Showings website here.
Homesnap Showings — from CoStar-owned Homesnap — debuted last fall. The service integrates with MLSs, Google Calendar and Microsoft Outlook, and allows agents and brokers to schedule property showings with direct input from sellers. These sellers can be added to the listing details to access their showing activity.
For buyer’s agents, the service offers instant booking and multi-stop itineraries based on listing availability, location and client schedules.
The service will be free to Homesnap Pro users through their MLS membership, and run on desktop and on Apple and Android mobile apps.
“We designed Homesnap Showings to be a modern showing tool for the modern agent,” Homesnap Senior Vice President of Product Strategy Guy Wolcott said in a statement last year. “Agents are always on the go and need a tool that can meet their immediate needs and solve problems quickly. Every aspect of Homesnap Showings takes this goal into account.”
More: Visit Homesnap’s website here.
With a wide array of options, real estate professionals have some hard choices to make.
However, Geller advised prospective clients of the different platforms to look at how well they integrate with the technology those clients already use. She also suggested looking at who is running the platform and if that person’s experience meshes well with that of the clients.
Finally, Geller said prospective platform clients should ask if the company they’re working with has the resources to survive longterm.
“What do they have the ability to handle?” Geller said. “What are the things they’re looking at down the road? Do they have the funding to carry it through? You can’t go with someone who may or may not make it.”
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