Zillow is at it again. Can we trust them? I mean, do you trust them with everything they’ve done to the agents and the consumers? Going up against the consumer, buying property; going up against the agent; serving as a broker? Now they've got this thing called ShowingTime+.
Let me just show you what it is and the idea behind it.
This is from an article by Inman titled “Zillow launches ShowingTime+ in a bid to win over real estate agents.”
I am not sure if I agree with the title, and after reading the whole thing, I thought, “That’s not true. That’s not the reason they are launching this.”
According to Inman, “CEO Rich Barton said the technology behemoth was inching closer to its goal of creating the ultimate ‘housing super app’ for agents and the consumers they serve.”
They add, “On Monday, Zillow took the next step toward that vision with the rollout of ShowingTime+, a new brand that will house existing products and services from ShowingTime, Bridge Interactive, Dotloop, and Zillow’s Rich Media Experience team, which oversees 3D tours and interactive floor plans.”
That is great and all, but that is the gist of it. Do we really need those apps and services? Maybe. They are some good and cool tools. But do we trust them? Is it really for the agents or just for the consumers? Do they want to simplify the process in order to capture the consumer and then take a piece of everything that the real estate agents do? Because we’ve seen it, right? That’s the ultimate play, and we know that that’s really what they’re after.
Inman also quotes ShowingTime+ Senior Vice President Jun Choo, and he said, “Nearly 90 percent of home shoppers and sellers work with an agent, and at ShowingTime+ we want to help agents bring them home.”
Is that really what they want to do? Because we were already working with the consumer, right? What they really want is a piece of the action. That’s what they should just say.
If Zillow just came out and said, “We want 30% or 40% of everything, whatever it is,” it would make it a lot easier for me to believe the crap that I am reading when it comes to Zillow.
“Although Choo and his colleagues hope industry members will embrace ShowingTime+ with excitement, the SVP acknowledged the sizeable fraction of agents who are skeptical of Zillow’s motives,” Inman says.
And who can blame us? I mean, if we’re doing this with our eyes wide open, and I hope you are, at this point, I don’t think any agent, if they look internally and are honest with themselves, can trust Zillow. Because they don’t tell us the truth. If they just tell us, “Yeah, we really want to do this because we want money from you. We want a piece of every transaction we do—title, mortgage, and everything we can get our hands on.”
At least that way, they are telling the truth. This is why we don’t trust them.
Inman adds, “ShowingTime, Dotloop, and Bridge Interactive’s acquisitions all sparked immense blowback within the industry, as some lambasted Zillow for creating an empire on agents’ backs while simultaneously appearing to compete with them for consumers’ attention.”
Of course, they own the Internet when it comes to housing searches. That’s fine, that’s cool. Is some of the tech cool? Probably.
Zillow isn’t going anywhere. They are consistently reinventing themselves. If buying houses doesn’t work, they will team up with somebody else like Opendoor. If that doesn’t work, they will continue doing other things and sell some other pieces. The point is, they are going to be there, taking a huge chunk of our commission.
If you want to use their products and services, great. Go ahead. They have some great tools. Just do it with your eyes wide open.
I want to end with this lengthy excerpt from the Inman article:
“I’m not a brand expert, but my brand managers at Zillow keep telling me that it is very hard to change someone’s brand perception after it’s been established for a long period of time,” he [Choo] said. “Zillow for years has been here for home buyers and sellers – it’s hard to then say, ‘Oh, Zillow really wants to focus on offering management software.’”
Is it really, though? I mean, Zillow changes what they are doing practically every six months. What is really hard, though, is for agents to believe that Zillow actually has their best interests at heart.
“[But] ShowingTime was already doing that, Dotloop was already doing that and building this software ecosystem around showing management, document management, etc.,” he added. “Obviously, we’re part of Zillow, Zillow builds things, and we’re going to be integrated into what they’re doing.”
“But we also want to show that there’s a group of people whose primary focus is the agent—not the buyer and seller.”
That is hard to believe. It’s not true. They want to own the eyes and emotions. They want to own where people go. They want to own all of that when it comes to housing. That is why they have millions of monthly views—they spend it on Google PPC and apps like this to “simplify” the process and make it a lot easier for the consumer to find the agents so that Zillow can take a piece of the action.
As always, when you read stuff like this, keep in mind to look at things with your eyes wide open. If you are using their products and services, it is great. They have amazing tools. But take everything with a grain of salt. They don’t want to eliminate the agent; they just want a bigger chunk of the profit. And it is going to get bigger. I mean, Flex is up to 40% now, and it is going to get up to 50%.
If they are providing everything along the way, why not just take a bigger piece of the pie? This is their only profitable business—to take commission from the agents.