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Other than misaligned outrage, no one knew exactly what to expect when Zillow, the long-stigmatized monetized multiple listing service, acquired ShowingTime, an unassuming proptech that helped hundreds of thousands of agents manage home showings.
The anger indeed materialized but if asked why a person was upset, they’d just say “our data!” and seethe for a minute.
While I was wary about the prospect of such a large technology player buying its way into the very respiratory system of the industry’s marketing anatomy, I did see a great deal of potential. For starters, by understanding what homes get shown when, in what communities and within what price range, Zillow could quickly further the accuracy of its pricing algorithm.
It could also use showing activity to surface popular homes to consumers searching in a respective neighborhood. “This home had six showings this week!” That kind of thing. Those would be powerful benefits to buyers and sellers. Your clients.
And then Zillow Offers imploded, and rivers of schadenfreude oozed from industry pores, even when it meant 2,000 people losing their incomes. It did manage to cool the lingering rash of the ShowingTime buy. The great iBuyer beast was yanked from the under the bed and sent skittish back to the void, despite never being all that scary to begin with. Fear itself, etc.
Ten months later and 300 more employees lighter, my colleague Ben Verde reported on the company’s emerging new direction.
“The demise of Zillow Offers, however, has forced the company to pivot. And in recent months Zillow has struck up a partnership with iBuyer Opendoor, tweaked its Premier Agent program and debuted a variety of different technologies.”
Brad Inman took notice too, citing soon after that once again, the consumer’s first choice for real estate information was not to be counted out.
“The mark of gifted entrepreneurs is their ability to cut products — not just build them. Normie founders are too attached to their creations, and reluctant to confess their failings,“ Inman said. ”Never on the defensive for too long, Zillow is on the offense again with its acquisition this week of real estate marketing company VRX Media — giving further lift to its booming ShowingTime product.“
That offensive has taken shape in the form of Listing Showcase, a new product from ShowingTime+, a Zillow offshoot from which the “super app” will be deployed. I was shown what agents now in limited markets will be able to do for their sellers’ listings with the conglomerate of tools the company’s assembled. The end result is pretty damn good.
Properties using Listing Showcase can be found on the map search by their “stars,” little visual highlights that rise above property location icons.
Listing Showcase, to ensure there is no doubt, makes the listing agent shine, offering them center stage alongside a carousel of motion graphic hero images ideally captured by its Listing Media Services, a fast-growing national network of real estate media professionals. Artificial intelligence suggests to the agent which images they’ve uploaded should be placed in the rotation. There’s also a “listed by” call to action alongside the right navigation column.
The software then groups interior images according to room, offering ideas for the agent to accept or edit manually. There’s also a floor plan that allows the viewer to see where in the house each image is located via a simple yellow highlight, and interacting with the floor plan will present an immersive tour, juxtaposed with a bird’s eye viewer perspective. (To be fair, iGuide has offered this capability for some time.)
Users can schedule tours, view school ratings and play with a detailed cost calculator.
Know that there are some other advancements out there improving consumer search in ways ShowingTime+ hasn’t yet rolled out. Mosaik’s predictive, wishlist-based lifestyle and group collaboration has real potential to affect how people find and compare homes.
But in the context of its reputation, and considering where it stood in November 2021, the first component of Zillow’s super app is a home run. Brad was right.