Maybe you’ve heard about the recent deal between Amazon and Realogy in which they give buyers $1,000 to $5,000 in smart-home products if you let them assign you an agent.
Unless you’re in real estate, you probably never heard of Realogy. They’re a holding company which owns multiple real estate franchisers that you have heard of — Century 21, Coldwell Banker, Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate, Sotheby’s International Realty and ERA Real Estate.
Denver is one of 15 markets where Amazon’s “Turnkey” program is being rolled out, with the intention of making it nationwide.
Putting on my journalist hat, I pretended to be a home buyer and went to Amazon’s website for this program. I filled in my name, my non-Realtor email address, and cell number, and within a minute received a screening call from a man at Realogy affiliate OJO Labs, who asked me where I was looking (Golden & Arvada), price range ($500,000), and whether I owned and would be selling my current home. (I said yes.) Note: Since many or most buyers have homes to sell, this program is effective at generating seller leads, too.
Then he explained (because I asked) that he was sending a text message to all the participating agents in my market and the first agent who responded to the text would be my agent. I would not be able to select the agent.
Before he connected me to that agent, I asked her name and Googled it. She’s with a brokerage in Longmont, 45 miles by car from Golden. Of course, she didn’t tell me that herself, hoping I’d hire her to buy a home and probably to sell my current home. She also overstated her experience, which I was able to check online.
After saying I wouldn’t work with her, I received a call from a second agent. This one was from a Denver office of the same brokerage and knew me, so my pretense ended with her, but I was able to interview her about the program.
She confirmed that the program is run through Realogy’s relocation business called Cartus and that the participating agents are the ones who already get relocation leads. This program will be a windfall for those agents because the leads could result in both a listing and a purchase, whereas relocation leads are only for a either a listing or a purchase. It will be a windfall for Cartus, too, since, like all relocation companies, they take 30% or more of the agent’s commission. Amazon must be getting a big fee, too, which ultimately comes from the commission paid by sellers to the participating agents.
As I told Aldo Svaldi of the Denver Post when he interviewed me, this is a really smart move for Amazon and a great deal for Realogy, and I suppose companies like Golden Real Estate could lose market share, even though we do offer other advantages to using us, including free use of our own moving trucks, boxes and packing materials. And when a buyer also lists his or her home with us, we also provide free labor, saving our clients thousands of dollars.