By partnering with Realogy, Amazon hopes to jump-start its smart home and home services businesses
Amazon is set to upend yet another time-tested industry. And this time? It’s real estate.
The retailer, along with one of the industry’s biggest names, announced a new program this morning that could alter how Americans buy homes—and how they move into them.
The offering—dubbed TurnKey—will allow homebuyers in 15 cities to instantly connect with a pre-vetted, high-rated real estate agent in their area. In exchange for closing with that agent, they’ll get anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 in Amazon home products, services and other perks.
The program was launched in partnership with Realogy, a longtime industry player and holding company for brands like Coldwell Banker, Century 21, Sotheby’s International Realty and more.
According to Eric Chesin, senior vice president and head of strategy at Realogy, the idea for TurnKey sprung from the brand’s desire to deliver more value to homebuyers—particularly beyond the closing process.
“Up until now, there were basically two parts of the journey of a homebuyer: There’s the journey of finding, buying and closing on your home, and then there’s what has been an entirely separate journey of having to settle into that house and make it a home,” Chesin said. “We recognize, as a homebuyer, that it’s all one continuous journey, and so we developed a program with Amazon to be able to serve that homebuyer across the entire spectrum.”
Here’s how it works: Homebuyers head to Amazon.com/TurnKey, enter four pieces of information—name, phone number, email address and city—and a TurnKey representative reaches out first by text, then by phone call, within just a few minutes. After a quick briefing, TurnKey then connects the buyer live on the call with a hand-selected agent in their area. The agent takes over from there, and the buyer proceeds with their home search with the Realogy agent in tow.
Buyers can be matched with agents from any number of Realogy’s brokerage brands, which include the above-mentioned ones, as well as names like ERA Real Estate, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, ZipRealty and more. All agents included in the program have been vetted and received TurnKey-specific training.
If the buyer closes on a home using their matched TurnKey agent, they’ll enjoy a slew of Amazon-provided perks that vary based on home price. If their home is in the $150,000 to $399,999 price range, for example, they’ll get a free, expert-installed Echo Dot, Echo Show and Ring Doorbell, as well as credits toward Amazon’s unpacking, cleaning, furniture assembly and other home services.
Buyers on the higher end of the price spectrum will get even more, snagging packages valued at $5,000. These offerings—called “Move-in Benefits”—include six Amazon Echo products, a Ring Doorbell, a variety of smart locks, hubs and lightbulbs, Fire TV technology and Sonos speakers, among other items. They’ll also enjoy $1,500 in credits toward Amazon home services.
The credits are provided via an Amazon gift card, and according Pat Bigatel, director of Amazon Home Services, can be used however buyers see fit.
“The Amazon Move-In Benefit will enable homebuyers to adapt the offering to their needs—from help assembling furniture, to assisting with smart home device set-up, to a deep clean and more,” Bigatel said.
Buyers can also spend the credits on things like moving services, improvement projects, home theater set-up and landscaping.
Despite all its perks, though, the program does have its downsides. According to Holden Lewis, home expert at personal finance site NerdWallet, the lack of choice in agents is the biggest one.
“For consumers, the drawback to TurnKey is that it limits the amount of choice consumers have when it comes to selecting a real estate agent, even as it simplifies it,” Lewis said. “Consumers benefit from the ability to shop around for an agent that fits their specific needs, rather than having one assigned to them.”
The TurnKey program officially launched today in the following metros: Phoenix; Los Angeles; Sacramento, California; San Francisco; Denver; Tampa and Orlando, Florida; Atlanta; Chicago; Minneapolis; Charlotte, North Carolina; Dallas-Fort Worth; Houston; Seattle; and Washington, D.C. Chesin said more markets are on the horizon.
“It’s my goal to raise the expectation for a homebuyer of what it really means to work with a real estate agent and buy a home,” Chesin said. “Hopefully after [today], you should expect that when you buy a home, someone’s there to take care of you when you move in. If we can do that for every homebuyer in these 15 cities and beyond, then hopefully the program gets more and more successful in scale, and we’ve done our job.”