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The focus of the Summit is The Year-Round Purchase Market. Record low rates led to a banner year for mortgage lenders in 2020, and this year is expected to be just as incredible.

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HousingWire's 2021 Spring Summit

We’ve gathered four of the top housing economists to speak at our virtual summit, a new event designed for HW+ members that’s focused on The Year-Round Purchase Market.

An Honest Conversation on minority homeownership

In this episode, Lloyd interviews a senior research associate in the Housing Finance Policy Center at the Urban Institute about the history and data behind minority homeownership.

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Amazon pushes further into real estate with Lennar smart home deal

Launches “Amazon Experience Centers”

Over the past few months, Amazon has hinted at expansion into real estate in various ways.

Last July, the online monolith quietly tested (and then removed) a feature that would connect a potential homebuyer or seller with a real estate agent.

And earlier this year, Amazon began exploring a move into mortgage lending. In fact, HousingWire’s Editor-in-Chief, Jacob Gaffney, reported in March that Amazon is looking to hire the head of a soon-to-be-announced mortgage division.

Well, consider Wednesday’s news another sign of Amazon’s encroachment into housing and real estate.

Amazon announced Wednesday that it is partnering with Lennar, the nation’s largest homebuilder, to launch what it calls “Amazon Experience Centers.”

The “Experience Centers” are basically showrooms for all of Amazon’s smart home products. But instead of Amazon opening up its own brick-and-mortar showrooms, it’s partnering with Lennar to trick out model homes with Amazon gadgets.

This is how Amazon explains it:

In these Alexa-enabled smart homes, customers can simply ask Alexa to control the television, lights, thermostat, shades, and more. The model homes showcase how customers can use Alexa in their everyday lives. Customers can experience just how easy it can be to reorder household essentials with a press of an Amazon Dash Button, listen or watch Prime content with Fire TV or schedule on-demand home services through Amazon Home Services.

Nish Lathia, the general manager of Amazon Services, explains that the partnership with Lennar enables more people to see how an Amazon-enabled smart home can function, without having to open up standalone facilities.

“We wanted customers to experience a real home environment that showcases the convenience of the Alexa smart home experience, great entertainment available with Prime, and Home Services,” Lathia said.

“We are excited to extend our relationship with Lennar with the launch of Amazon Experience Centers,” Lathia added. “As one of the nation’s largest homebuilders, Lennar offers the potential to enable this experience within easy driving distance of millions of customers.”

According to the companies, consumers will be able to test out:

  • Controlling their smart home devices with just their voice:  Customers can experience the simplicity of adjusting the thermostat, seeing who’s at the front door without leaving the couch, and trying routines such as “Alexa, good morning” to have Alexa turn on lights, read the weather, and provide an update on commute times based on traffic.
  • Saving time by putting their home on auto-pilot: Customers can discover how to schedule auto-deliveries of household essentials, reorder products with the press of a button, and book recurring or on-demand home services through Amazon.

The partnership makes sense for both sides. Amazon gets to showcase its smart home gadgetry and functionality in an actual home environment without having to secure and operate the retail square footage, while Lennar would seemingly see increased traffic (and potentially more buyers) to its model homes from people who want to check out Amazon’s offerings.

“Amazon’s ability to bring a home to life with Alexa smart home experiences, entertainment and services – coupled with their obsession with customer experience – is a natural extension of our Everything’s Included approach to homebuilding,” David Kaiserman, president of Lennar Ventures, said. “We picked Amazon because of our shared commitment to customers, their Amazon experts across the country, and their ability to connect customers with thousands of service providers through Amazon Home Services.”

According to the companies, the Experience Centers are now open in Lennar model homes in Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., with more “coming soon.”

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