FTC probing Zillow’s ShowingTime acquisition after lawmakers raise red flags

Listing giant’s “unfair advantage” under scrutiny amid consolidation concerns

National /
Aug.August 17, 2021 09:40 AM
Sen. Mike Lee, Zillow CEO Richard Barton and Sen. Ken Buck (Getty, JD Lasica via Flickr)

Sen. Mike Lee, Zillow CEO Richard Barton and Rep. Ken Buck (Getty, JD Lasica via Flickr)

The FTC is reviewing Zillow’s pending acquisition of ShowingTime amid concerns from lawmakers of anti-competitive practices and consolidation among online real estate platforms.

The disclosure comes days after Ken Buck and Mike Lee — top Republicans on the House and Senate antitrust subcommittees, respectively — sent a letter Aug. 12 calling on the FTC to examine “competition issues in residential real estate,” specifically referencing Zillow’s dominant position online.

While the FTC didn’t comment on the matter, Zillow confirmed that the deal is being reviewed, according to Inman.

Zillow announced its $500 million acquisition of ShowingTime, a platform that coordinates home-showing schedules for nearly 1 million agents and hundreds of multiple listing services, in February. ShowingTime coordinates home-showing schedules for almost 1 million agents.

In the letter to the FTC, the lawmakers warned that the deal “may further entrench Zillow’s consumer information advantage.”

ShowingTime CEO Scott Woodard 

ShowingTime CEO Scott Woodard

“Zillow already has a potential unfair advantage over unrepresented sellers in its iBuying business,” the letter continued, asserting that through a string of acquisitions in recent years, the listing giant “can effectively tell the homeowner what their home is worth, buy the home from the homeowner for that amount, and then turn around and immediately sell the home for a higher price.”

Zillow defended its acquisition of ShowingTime, with a spokesman telling Inman the two companies have worked “constructively” with the FTC since the deal was announced.

“By building an open and equitable service which is available to all agents and brokers, which would include ShowingTime after the closing of the transaction, we are helping move the industry towards a more efficient, digital future that works to benefit consumers,” the spokesperson told Inman.

Zillow has made a number of acquisitions in the past few years, including dotloop, Bridge Interactive, StreetEasy and Naked Apartments. Its acquisition of Trulia in 2015 was subject to a review, but was ultimately approved without conditions.

[Inman] — Holden Walter-Warner





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