Over the past year, the decidedly analog business of buying and selling real estate has been upended by a flurry of new money and start-ups trying to usher in a world where homes are bought and sold online. Now, Amazon is creating a partnership that goes in the opposite direction by using its gigantic retail platform to facilitate phone calls with human real estate agents.
On Tuesday, Amazon said that it was working with Realogy, the nation’s largest residential real estate brokerage company and owner of Century 21, Coldwell Banker and other brands, to create TurnKey, a service that will help prospective home buyers find real estate agents. To entice customers, Amazon will give buyers up to $5,000 in home services and smart-home gear when they close.
Amazon is now as much a search engine as it is a store, and the deal fits into the company’s effort to capitalize on its status as an online destination by making money on advertising and other services. It’s also a way to encourage people to adopt products like Alexa speakers and Ring doorbells and to promote its list of handymen, furniture assemblers and other home services.
For Realogy, who will pay for those benefits, the partnership is a way of using Amazon to find home buyers and help its brokers separate the closers from the lookie-loos by rebating a portion of its commission, in the form of free Amazon stuff, to anyone who actually buys a house.
Here’s how it works: Buyers who are interested in the program go to Amazon.com/TurnKey and answer four questions about who they are and where they live. They then get a phone call from a Realogy representative who tries to determine what sort of home they are looking for and how serious they are about buying.
The best prospects are sent to agents. Depending on how much buyers ultimately spend on a home, those who close with one of Realogy’s agents get a coupon for $450 to $1,500 in Amazon Home Services like unpacking, cleaning and furniture assembly, along with $500 to $3,500 in smart-home products that Amazon or some affiliate will install. To get the maximum benefit, worth $5,000 in equipment and services, a buyer would have to purchase a home for $700,000 or more.