Wednesday, April 17, 2024

New scheduling, market reporting tools boost ShowingTime+

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While Zillow remains centered on consumer search and lead generation, offspring ShowingTime+ is becoming the “super app” the industry giant promised, according to the company.

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ShowingTime+ continues to roll out products to smooth over the friction of traditional real estate business processes, this time it’s a revamped home-showing calendaring process, according to an announcement sent to Inman.

Available nationwide, the new product is called Appointment Center by ShowingTime+, and it’s being promoted “at a lower price to create everyday value and help agents and brokers succeed,” the company said.

“Tougher times mean that every dollar an agent spends toward their business counts,” said Mike Lane, vice president of sales and industry affairs for ShowingTime+, in a statement. “We want to give agents tools that save them time and money while helping them build the trust with their clients that is key to getting more referrals and more business.”

The company is positioning Appointment Center as a “busy agent’s virtual assistant,” due to its ability to respond to showing requests, on average, in 20 seconds. As most agents can relate to, it’s not uncommon for calls and emails to pile up when a popular listing hits the market, even when an agent is more diligent than most in their commitment to quick responses.

“Appointment Center specialists are ShowingTime+ employees trained to support agents 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, so that a listing agent’s business appears to be open at all times,“ the announcement reads.

Bolted to Appointment Center is Offer Manager, a communication hub to capture the informal, or soft offer, conversations that drive initial negotiations. Whereas quick text messaging, voicemail and email become de-facto delivery vehicles for expressing client interest in properties, they remain poor conveyors of critical business data.

Every communication within the context of an offer, whether viable or not, becomes valuable data about future transactions with buyers and their agents. Offer Manager looks to place guardrails around those seed discussions, holding them within the confines of the subject property and present clear comparisons of each offer to the seller.

Also included is Target Market Analysis, a pricing tool for agents aimed at coming as close as possible to a number that will solicit the most interest from the market, a key component in the agent selection equation, according to 2022 consumer trends research from Zillow, ShowingTime+’s parent company.

The survey found that “74 percent of sellers and 76 percent of buyers said that an agent who has local market and neighborhood knowledge is very or extremely important.”

The market data tool consolidates data on active listing pricing trends and price change data to provide agents with as much insight as possible on what will get the deal done, a clear byproduct of Zillow’s acquisition of ShowingTime and the former’s direct line to buyer showing activity around a property.

Supporting the need for pricing accuracy is a second Zillow report of market activity, tracked from January to April of 2023, that found one in five sellers reduced price while active in that period.

As any agent can attest to, price reductions are a never a fun topic of conversation, something the Pricing Benchmark report, another asset the new solution, is designed to support.

“The Pricing Benchmark report highlights how a listing compares to the competition and enables agents to see their listing’s relative pricing, showing activity, days on market and more,” the company said.

This facet of the software is not available in all markets yet, according to the announcement.

The cost for Appointment Center and its associated suite of tools is $15 per month.

ShowingTime+ became the vertical through which Zillow is, in a sense, reinventing itself from a consumer-first search portal to an agent-centric software provider. Informally, the effort is falling under the term, “super app,” coined publicly somewhere around 2022 amid a flurry of proptech layoffs and Zillow’s abrupt exit from iBuying.

Inman reported on Zillow’s earnings in early May, which showed that in the first quarter of 2022 Zillow brought in $469 million in revenue, down 13 percent from the $536 million Zillow brought in during the first quarter of 2022 — a period that notably preceded the rate hikes and sales slowdowns that came to dominate last year.

ShowingTime+ continues to expand its Listing Media Services arm too, announcing in a separate email to Inman its recent introduction to Nashville, Miami and Seattle, for a total of 28 markets. The marketing product gives agents access to a growing list of professional photographers, digital listing assets and other tools to promote active properties. Listing Media Services was in part powered by the acquisition of VRX Media.

Later this summer, ShowingTime+ plans to release what it calls its “next-generation app and user experience,” which will allow for offline appointment data access, a revamped UI with updated calendar views and an overall design that will lead to more efficient showings and improved user experiences.

Email Craig Rowe

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