Amazon—or, more precisely, the Amazon phenomenon—is bound to have an increasing impact on Morris County residential neighborhood preferences. The connection hasn’t yet been widely acknowledged, but it’s hard to deny the logic behind it.
The connection I’m pointing to isn’t the web behemoth’s rumored expansion into real estate. That was quietly floated last summer—and just as quickly abandoned. Without ceremony, Amazon had debuted a “Hire a Realtor” page under a “Coming soon” blurb—but took it down the next day. The Seattle retailer has been mum about the reason for the misfire—but it could well be its use without permission of the NAR’s “Realtor®” designation (it’s a registered trademark).
Nor does a prediction of an increasing “Amazon effect” on neighborhood preferences have anything to do with its Echo smart speaker or Alexa personal assistant software. Asking for real estate help from Alexa simply hasn’t caught on, possibly because her response to other requests lacks the kind of human connection most folks demand when seeking professional help on important matters. A couple of weeks ago, Echo-Alexa suffered a black eye when some of its speakers started giggling for no apparent reason. The result of hearing someone suddenly laughing from another room was described as “spooky,” “unnerving,” and “frightening.” Not what you’re looking for in a real estate agent!
The “Amazon effect” that may ultimately affect Morris County residential neighborhood preferences is the same one that has made its Amazon Prime membership so popular: free delivery. Last week’s announcement that Toys’R’Us will shutter its 735 stores is evidence that even the New York Times had to acknowledge: retail shopping “in the Age of Amazon” is undergoing a sea change. Further proof comes with the daily increase in the number of online merchants who find it necessary to compete by offering free shipping.
House hunters may assume that size, style, and price are the most important factors in choosing their next home, but neighborhood qualities weigh in, too—in fact, they often precede the other factors. Ultimately, it’s predictable that any neighborhood’s proximity to desirable shopping outlets—something that used to be a definite selling point—may all but disappear from consideration.
As the web wins over more and more shop-from-home adherents, that factor in the location location location equation may go the way of the horse and buggy. What won’t disappear is the value of being able to count on an experienced (and human) real estate professional when buying or selling Morris County homes. Call me anytime!