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At the start of 2021, did anyone have an any idea just how critical ShowingTime was to the industry?
The home showing scheduler was the most common in the category before becoming a $500 million acquisition of Zillow. Everyone just used it and never thought much about what would happen if they had a reason not to.
And that’s exactly what happened.
Long considered an icon of upheaval in real estate, Zillow, it seemed, finally crossed a line when it bought the 22-year-old proptech company.
Agents didn’t like the idea of Zillow profiting (yet again) on showing data, client names and all other iterations of information that stem from knowing what homes are being shown when and to who. The result of the turmoil has been a collective and ongoing search for an alternative, and a number of industry technology entrepreneurs were happy to offer some waypoints.
Here’s the latest roundup of new technology that helps agents coordinate home showings.
This Bend, Oregon-based startup was being formed for about a year before ShowingTime caught the eye of Zillow, giving it a number of advantages, from not trying to merely emulate what its predecessor offers to being able to build its product without the reactive go-to-market pressure. The result is one of the lightest, most nimble and unique solutions in the space.
Another group out of Bend, this showing technology straddled the line between tour software and showing manager, and wasn’t quite awesome at either. It has potential, being a product of direct industry expertise. And it’s mobile-first.
A cool mobile showing and navigation app designed mainly for helping agents find homes in vast suburban condo developments, city corridors and any place characterized by sameness.
Its founders had trouble getting a pizza delivered, so they built an app that handles “the last mile” of home tours and showings, putting agents in the closest possible parking spot to the exact door to open.
In addition to the upstarts, a number of well-established and savvy technology groups jumped into the showing-tech field, such as Delta Media. Local Showings has the power of Delta Media’s vast MLS relationships, and its individual owner promises potential MLS partners he won’t sell the company.
Like ShowingTime, it has a manned call center for people who still prefer this approach. Those already using any of Delta Media’s existing tools will get the most value out of Local Showings because they built it to function alongside existing brokerage products.
Showingly, like Instashowing, came from outside the industry. Its initial review revealed a good looking, functional app, but its agent finder, consumer version and lightweight CRM suggested it’d been over-engineered.
The company is making some headway into the MLS world — no easy feat — and recently made some updates that trim its extra parts and improve efficiency.
Not at all shy about being a competitor to Zillow, CoStar-owned portal Homesnap has developed a showing product for its Pro-level customers.
“The new service is integrated 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,” according to an Inman report on its release.
A Homesnap blog post even claims that its new showing product ensures agents “can be certain their client data won’t be shared with a competitor.” Zing.
This software isn’t quite getting the attention it should. Then again, showing coordination is only part of what it does, so it’s creating its own space. Real Happy is also a sharp way to increase listing exposure, leveraging stand-alone property pages, visual feedback functions, open house promotion and listing analytics.
Houston Association of Realtors has a track record of providing for its members with in-house innovation. This is largely a good thing, but can come with some drawbacks. Frankly, there are things outside entrepreneurs can bring to an organization that an insulated development team won’t think to consider.
This is a very good product for members of HAR to use at no additional cost, but it’s not the best solution on the market, leaving members with a choice to make.
Like About Time Tours and Beans, TourZazz places equal weight on home tour functionality. The mobile app’s showing tools help sellers and listing agents stay on the same page and allow listings in multiple MLS to be managed from a common calendar.
There’s also feedback functionality and a way to present custom notes and text to buyer agents. TourZazz has versions for iOS and Android mobile operating systems.
Canada’s long-established player is looking for inroads to the states since ShowingTime’s sale, and has plenty of experience to offer. However, it’s primary customer is an MLS, and they’ve become a great deal more challenging to get in front of since the aforementioned sale.
The software uses online booking and a call center, on top of offering mobile apps for both major phone types. Touchbase does have iterations of its showing technology for brokerages and individual agents.
This software throws consumer home search into the mix, which is made easy with its ability to easily integrate with users’ local MLS accounts. This is more buyer-forward than some others on the list, making it as much of a consumer tool as it is a productivity resource for industry professionals. But on that latter front, it also offers leads to agents based on search data. It doesn’t make agents compete for listing prevelance in search, and helps buyers connect quickly to those listing a house they want to see.
There may be a few others out there still in the skunkworks of proptech coding away on something, and I hope 2022 brings about even more change for this valuable part of being a real estate agent.