Zillow suing ARMLS and Metro MLS over ShowingTime access
Zillow Group alleges that the MLSs and the MLS Aligned network are participating in anticompetitive practices by limiting member access to ShowingTime.
Zillow Group and ShowingTime have announced a new lawsuit against the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service (ARMLS) and Wisconsin's Metro Multiple Listing Service (Metro MLS) over what the tech giant claims is an unfair and anticompetitive practice that freezes out ShowingTime in favor of a proprietary, MLS-developed tour appointment tool.
Who is involved? The suit, filed on Dec. 22, names ARMLS, Metro MLS and MLS Aligned as defendants. The Arizona and Wisconsin MLSs, along with five other MLSs, are part of the MLS Aligned network that serves tens of thousands of agents across the country.
The other member MLSs in the MLS Aligned network — RMLS in Oregon, Northern Nevada Regional MLS, UtahRealEstate.com, MLSListings in Northern California and BeachesMLS in Florida — were not listed as defendants in Zillow's complaint.
In both Zillow Group's formal legal complaint and a blog post from Chief Industry Development Officer Errol Samuelson, the company singles out ARMLS and Metro MLS for their plans to remove ShowingTime integration and only provide agents the use of a competing product developed by MLS Aligned. Real Estate News has reached out to the defendants for comment.
What does the suit allege? One of the functions of MLS Aligned is to develop products for agents in partner MLSs. The suit targets one of the network's specific products, Aligned Showings, which was initially offered alongside ShowingTime.
Zillow Group alleges that "rather than competing on the merits," MLS Aligned and its members conspired to remove the ShowingTime integration and "create a monopoly in their regions for their own showing management platform." The complaint, which describes how Zillow offered ShowingTime access for free, refers to the removal as "anticompetitive and exclusionary."
Zillow's complaint also noted that ARMLS removed the ShowingTime integration in its member portal on December 27 while Metro MLS would do so in February.
What did Zillow say? In his blog post, Samuelson provides additional context to the action and said the company had tried to work with the two MLSs on a solution before filing suit.
Zillow Group "made numerous attempts to convince these two MLSs to keep the seamless ShowingTime integration active as an additional option for their agent members, as other MLSs in the consortium have done," said Samuelson, but ARMLS and Metro MLS "declined all offered alternatives and resolutions, leaving their agent members with no choice."
Samuelson describes MLSs as "rulemaking bodies and local monopolies" which have a particularly important duty to avoid conflicts of interest. He said that Zillow is taking this action to protect individual agents' choice to decide which products and digital tools they use for their business.