Lawmakers Want FTC to Investigate Zillow Over Antitrust

Members of House and Senate antitrust subcommittees asked the Federal Trade Commission to see if Zillow’s acquisition of ShowingTime could violate U.S. antitrust laws.

WASHINGTON – U.S. lawmakers want the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate potential antitrust violations over Zillow Group’s pending $500 million acquisition of ShowingTime, a scheduling platform for home showings.

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), ranking members of House and Senate antitrust subcommittees, reportedly sent the FTC a letter urging an investigation into the acquisition.

Zillow Group has made several acquisitions over recent years, including one that allows it to operate as a broker. In February, Zillow announced plans to purchase ShowingTime, which it says will remain an open platform. The acquisition is still pending.

In their letter to the FTC, the lawmakers said they believe the acquisition could “further entrench Zillow’s consumer information advantage to the detriment of homebuyers and their competitors.” The letter also refers to Zillow’s Zestimate, alleging it could “unduly influence” homeowners who may be trying to sell their homes.

“The effect of Zillow’s acquisitions appears to be that it 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,” the lawmakers stated in the letter to the FTC.

Zillow provided the following statement to GeekWire: “Since our announcement to acquire ShowingTime, Zillow and ShowingTime have worked constructively with the FTC staff in their thorough review of the transaction. … Key to our mission is our work to modernize the real estate transaction – which has been notoriously resistant to consumer-friendly change over the decades. By building an open and equitable service which is available to all agents and brokers, which will include ShowingTime, we are helping move the industry towards a more efficient, digital future that works to benefit consumers.”

Source: “Zillow Group Faces Antitrust Scrutiny From U.S. Lawmakers Over $500M ShowingTime Acquisition,” GeekWire (Aug. 13, 2021) and “Lawmakers Flag Zillow Deal for FTC Scrutiny,” Axios.com (Aug. 12, 2021)

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