Lawmakers Flag Zillow's ShowingTime Acquisition to the FTC for Scrutiny

August 17, 2021
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Two US Senators have written to the Federal Trades Commission to ask the government agency to take a closer look at Zillow's acquisition of showing management and market stats provider ShowingTime.

Since its foundation in 1999 ShowingTime has provided realtors with scheduling tools around viewings as well as stats around them. The $500 million February deal to sell the business to Zillow has been controversial among realtors many of whom believe that Zillow plans to use data from the product to edge them out of business.

Watch: US industry expert Brian Boero explains portal - realtor tensions

Now two Republican lawmakers claim that the Seattle based company's purchase of ShowingTime “may further entrench Zillow’s consumer information advantage to the detriment of homebuyers and their competitors.”

The letter to the FTC is symptomatic of a new climate of increased anti-trust scrutiny for big tech firms in the US. It makes reference to Zillow's previous acquisitions of Trulia, dotloop and StreetEasy having been approved with minimal oversight and claims that:

"While consumer experience might benefit from certain technological innovations in the real estate industry, antitrust enforcers should be vigilant to ensure that a competitive environment is maintained and that the online real estate industry does not become overly consolidated."

In a statement given to US realtor publication, Zillow confirmed that the deal was under review and went on to say that:

“Zillow and ShowingTime have worked constructively with the FTC staff in their thorough review of the transaction” since Zillow announced the deal.

“Our mission has always been to ‘turn on the lights’ for consumers by giving them information previously hidden or incredibly difficult to get access through tools such as the Zestimate and the publishing of millions of agent and lender reviews,”

Since February both CoStar and Delta Media have announced plans to build a competitor product to ShowingTime and take advantage of a possible exodus of many of the platform's reported 1 million realtor customers.

CoStar itself is no stranger to FTC headaches having had its proposed $587 million acquisition of portal operator RentPath nixed back in December 2020. That particular botched merger cost CoStar $52 million in break-fees, and Zillow's management will be keen to avoid a similar situation.

August 17, 2021
Edmund got to know the world of portals and marketplaces working at Mitula Group (which became Lifull Connect after the buyout in 2018). He worked directly with hundreds of portals across the world in his role in the content department for three and a half years before transferring to the SEO department to understand the inner workings of listings sites. He joined Online Marketplaces as Head of Content in March 2020.

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