Zillow announced yesterday that it is to purchase the showing management firm ShowingTime for $500 million. The acquisition is designed to bring the US portal giant closer to the transaction and have the Zillow brand touch as many parts of the real estate value chain as possible.
Founded in Chicago in 1999, ShowingTime describes itself as "the leading showing software and market stats service provider for the residential real estate industry" and provides automation and scheduling services for home viewings as well as stats and analytics around homebuyer activity.
ShowingTime reportedly has around 1 million agent customers, many of which also use Zillow's Premier Agent listings product as well. There are some obvious synergies between the two parties which ShowingTime President Mike Lane was keen to express in comments made to US agent industry publication inman yesterday:
"There’s such a good opportunity between our companies that I have a hard time scripting a better situation. They’re really a great strategic fit on showings"
As for Zillow's take on its latest purchase, the company's Chief Industry Development Officer Errol Samuelson painted it as Zillow looking to be involved in making services open and accessible to all realtors and likened it to the firm's purchase of transaction management software company dotloop back in 2015.
"In many ways, this acquisition is thematically similar to other work that we’ve been doing. This idea that when there are broad industry opportunities or challenges, we can apply technology to help fix those, not just for our partners, our Premier Agent customers, but for the industry in general."
The Zillow acquisition comes at a time which might retrospectively be termed the calm before the portal war as commercial giant CoStar's stated, acquisition-fuelled designs on the residential sector, which include a new residential portal to compete with Zillow, will become more and more relevant to Zillow towards the end of the year. Given that CoStar CEO Any Florance is on record as saying that his strategy will include acquisitions in the residential sector, the fear of seeing ShowingTime bought by a rival may have influenced Zillow CEO Rich Barton and his board.