Zillow Sues Regional MLS Group Over ShowingTime Exclusion Decision

January 2, 2024
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The U.S. portal giant Zillow is suing a group of regional multiple listings services (MLSs) for their decision to exclude ShowingTime from their agent-facing platforms.

Filed on the 22nd of December, the suit names MLS Aligned, a collective of six regional MLSs, and two of its members in Arizona and Wisconsin.

Zillow claims that the defendants are trying to "monopolize the market for real estate showing management services" by only using their own proprietary showing management software and "conspiring to exclude or severely limit ShowingTime".

Bought by Zillow in 2021 for $500 million, ShowingTime provides automation and scheduling services for home viewings as well as stats and analytics around homebuyer activity. The acquisition generated controversy with some agents fearful that Zillow would use the insights gained from ShowingTime's data to take their business.

In the U.S. MLSs are a crucial part of real estate transactions and sit between agents and portals. Agents use MLS interfaces to manage their viewings with many MLSs around the country integrating ShowingTime into their systems.

However, after Zillow bought ShowingTime the defendants came together to build their own showing management platform. Both ShowingTime and the proprietary solution were previously available to agents using the named MLSs but a recent decision to phase out ShowingTime has now prompted the Seattle-based portal operator to take legal action.

In a blog post, Zillow's Head of Industry Relations, Errol Samuelson, defended the company's "unprecedented" legal action saying it was about making sure agents maintained the choice of which software to use.

"Agents in any MLS should be able to choose the products and services that best meet the needs of their business and their clients — whether that’s ShowingTime, Aligned Showings or another tool. We want to compete on an even playing field where agents have the flexibility to choose their preferred platform, and where platforms must innovate to earn agents’ business.

As rulemaking bodies and local monopolies, MLSs have tremendous power to control how the business of real estate gets done in their regions. When MLSs also offer their own software, they must be careful to avoid conflicts of interest — not abuse their authority to advantage their own products from which they stand to profit."

January 2, 2024
Since March 2020 Edmund's job has been to read about, write about, collect data on, analyse and generally know about real estate marketplaces and the companies that run them. Before that he worked at the aggregator Mitula Group (which became Lifull Connect) for five years.

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