There was a time when Amazon was limited to selling everything a house could hold. Now you can go to Amazon to buy your house, too.
Last week, Amazon announced TurnKey, a collaboration with Realogy. The program connects you with a Realogy real estate agent and provides free move-in services and smart home tech from Amazon. The endgame for Amazon is clear: All that tech gear comes straight from the Alexa-enabled line-up (Echo, Ring, Sonos), which means Amazon wins your smart home platform from day one.
Here’s how it works: Give Amazon your contact info, then answer four questions about your home search. Amazon will hook you up with a real estate agent from Coldwell Banker, Century 21, Sotheby’s, or one of the other real estate companies in Realogy’s network. After you close on a house with your Realogy agent, Amazon swoops in with the deals. Think of it as your very own, moving-party Prime Day. Depending on the amount you spend on your house, you could get a Move-In Benefit worth up to $5,000.
TurnKey Move-In Benefit Packages:
That package value includes Amazon services like moving, cleaning, and furniture assembly, as well as a smart home kit, which swells from three devices to 26 in the three tiers. Each package also includes a 10% discount on up to $200 worth of select Amazon items.
Most of Amazon’s forays into new categories (entertainment, grocery) have been made possible by acquisitions and partnerships. This is no different. Realogy has made it easier for Amazon to branch into real estate, and Amazon doesn’t even have to foot the bill. The cost of providing new homeowners with free services and smart home gadgets comes out of Realogy’s commission.
While Realogy and its subsidiaries stand to profit from Amazon’s enormous, active customer base, it’s not clear whether that value will offset costs for the brokerage long-term, according to a post on real estate news site The Real Deal, which reports that analysts don’t see the math working out in Realogy’s favor. Like all traditional real estate companies, Realogy has been hit hard by industry disruptors like Redfin and Zillow. News of the Amazon partnership, which provides Realogy Realtors access to Amazon’s optimized consumer funnel, bumped Realogy stock prices up 30% to $6.44 per share, but RLGY traded for $22.61 per share last year.
While some might call Realogy’s partnership with the third-highest-valued company in the world lopsided, prospective home buyers stand to benefit from free Amazon services and tech products no matter what the future of this partnership holds.
Dean Jones, president and CEO of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty in Seattle, said that while his agents haven’t seen any clients come through the Amazon portal yet, the collaboration looks promising. He points to the “massive visibility” of Amazon, the “tried and true” status of Realogy, and the lure of the smart home as TurnKey’s most important traits.
“Much like you might change your aesthetic when you make a move,” Jones says, “buyers are adopting smart home tech.” Compared to buying a pre-wired smart home (something new-home buyers are asking for more and more), TurnKey’s offer “future-proofs” the purchase, says Jones, since Amazon’s tech can be easily upgraded.
While the TurnKey smart home may be “free,” the trade-off is establishing your home as an exclusively Amazon ecosystem. After getting an Echo speaker and a Ring doorbell, it will only make sense to add other Alexa-compatible devices. And that Echo included at every package tier? It automatically purchases from Amazon every time you say, “Alexa, buy _______.”
There’s also the issue of privacy. Amazon came under fire earlier this year when it was revealed that voice commands are fielded by human employees to accelerate Alexa’s learning curve. Still, Amazon has stepped up privacy features (learn how to make the most of them with our guide). Most notably: users can delete Alexa commands just by saying, “Alexa, delete everything I said today.”
Amazon did not respond to a request for comment on future plans for the TurnKey program, but Jones anticipated that the pilot program would soon expand. It’s currently available in 15 metropolitan areas: Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Orlando, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa, and Washington, D.C.