Just when you think you have your life under control, things change. After attending the Les Dames d’Escoffier International Conference in Seattle last week, this Lifestylist® realized that lifestyles and trends are changing faster than I thought. Being in the city where Amazon morphed from a dream to a company that has changed the way we shop made me realize that there are very few things that you can’t buy on their site. They even have Amazon Go stores that allow you to stop in and pick up a sandwich or a drink through their app and you never have to show a credit card or cash. Now you can buy luxury appliances, a tiny home and almost everything you need to furnish the home you just bought with a click of your mouse.
Times change, and my Lifestylist brand has as well. After becoming more engaged in kitchen design, volunteering, and falling in love with the TEXSOM wine tribe, as well as being part of our incredible Dallas culinary world, I decided my focus would change to Wine.Dine.and Great Design. It’s been gratifying to listen and learn from some of the greats in all of these disciplines, and what they all have in common is that they start and end in the home.
As part of the networking that came with this, I was asked to become an “Amazon Influencer,” but I wanted to do my homework first before I committed. I was amazed with what I discovered. After researching what you could and could not buy on Amazon, I now buy most of my shoes, office supplies, milk and bananas, teak tub trays for my model homes and the majority of my groceries on the site. Then I started testing to find what I couldn’t buy from them and I can’t think of anything that I couldn’t source besides sodium free Rotel.
But the biggest surprises of what was available were a Miele $5,848.50 convection oven, and a $17,800 tiny home (pictured above) complete with free shipping that would arrive in three to five weeks! With Amazon already testing the waters in selling homes, what does this mean to our local real estate community? Everything.
Remember when you were shopping for homes and the only way to see what was available was to have a Realtor show you the current MLS book then drive you around for days trying to find the perfect home? Now buyers can get online 24 hours a day and search favorite sites such as realtor.com or Zillow, that will happily send tons of information directly to you after you register to let you do the research yourself without a human bugging you or trying to sell you something you don’t want. It’s been really interesting to notice how many of my neighbors are trying to sell their homes themselves, or use new companies that don’t charge the traditional brokerage fees. If the real estate community and home builders are going to continue to be relevant, there are going to have to be some changes made.
Factory-built housing used to be the future, but the future is here — right in our own backyard. Clayton Homes is owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and is the largest builder of factory-built homes in the United States. They have also recently purchased seven “traditional” home-building companies, including Brohn Homes in Austin. I’ve been fortunate to know Jim Clayton, founder of Clayton Homes, and his son Kevin, who is now president and CEO of the company for over 20 years, and I’m proud to consider them a client. I’ve seen from the ground up what is possible when you see possibilities instead of obstacles.
Clayton recently built a state of the art facility in Athens, Texas, that makes it possible to build some of the best-looking, well-constructed affordable housing you could ever hope to see.
They also addressed the well being of their employees when designing the facility that among other things has a dining area complete with a salad bar and big screen TVs, and comfy outdoor dining choices as well. Their NXT series will change every thing you ever thought about “mobile homes.” To my knowledge Clayton is not selling on Amazon at this time, but it would make sense.
What doesn’t make sense to me though is that so few Realtors are familiar with what today’s factory-built homes offer, and how few of them are listed or sold by Realtors. So much of the real estate community still thinks of factory-built homes as being “tornado magnets” poorly constructed, and without any current design elements – that couldn’t be further from the truth. I love to say how many site built homes could make it down the highway at 70 miles an hour and still be intact? Every factory built home withstands this test and typically arrives without a shingle missing or a crack in the drywall.
Because of this, I can see a time where more and more homes are available to be purchased on Amazon, and if so, that may be where I start my Second Shelter search. Until then, I’ve noticed that my neighbors who have tried to sell their homes themselves have given up and gone back to using a traditional Realtor who is wise enough to know that this seller is looking for a new approach.
I won’t be buying my appliances online — we are fortunate to have a locally owned company like Capital Distributing to work with. They are like a security blanket to me — I know I can call or drop in any time I have an issue and they will be my advocate to make sure that everything is installed correctly and works like I dreamed it would. It’s also great to know there is a human there to help me figure out how to turn the darn thing on!
I love being able to shop online, but I also appreciate having experts to guide me through the shopping process — might there be some new alternate ways of shopping coming soon? Only time will tell.
Lifestylist® Suzanne Felber is one of those lucky people who truly loves what she does. By helping consumers discover their “inner-stylist,” Felber has helped thousands of homeowners design their own spaces to reflect their personalities and their lifestyles. Felber lives in her own Home Idea Factory — a circa 1942 factory that previously housed a printing company in Oak Cliff. She and her brood of rescue cats and dogs have been busy using the building as the perfect place to try out different ideas and products that she is excited to share here.