Real Estate at Walmart, Where all Prices End in 87 Cents

Jonathan Dalton, Phoenix Real Estate AgentFrank was kind enough on Monday to post a link to an Arizona Republic story about a local real estate company setting up shop inside of Walmart. The idea is there will be a ton of foot traffic and some of those feet may belong to ready, willing and able buyers and sellers.

My first thought was to discount the idea (no pun intended) but my friend Thomas Johnson from ERA in Houston said it might be viable, harkening back to the days when Coldwell Banker shared space with Dean Witter and Allstate inside Sears. So I thought it was worth it to roll back (pun intended and rather pathetic, I might add) and take a second look.

My opinion hasn’t changed.

Much like Redfin continuing to warm over the rebate model and claim it’s a brand new meal fresh from the oven, the idea of selling real estate out of a retail space’s nothing new. I can’t speak for its existence outside the Phoenix area, primarily because I don’t get out much, but the Model Home Centers have been selling real estate inside Valley malls for at least the past nine years.

That is when my then-wife and I drove to Fiesta Mall in Mesa to discuss a home purchase with an agent simply because we didn’t know where else to go. The Internet was limited, we were first-time buyers and we knew we’d seen the shop in the mall.

Our experience was mediocre at best. We were driven to Peoria, where we wanted to live, and shown a handful of homes – some new, some resale (but mostly new, which makes me wonder what the co-broke was then.) We went back a week later and wrote a contract with a different agent (or something similar inside the model … looking back and knowing what I know now about new builds, it’s unlikely it was a contract) and that was that. We never heard from “our” agent again.

Via con dios, Mr. and Mrs. Dalton.

I’m not trying to insinuate that’s the service everyone received; I’m certain that it was due to the agent with which we were working and not the brand. But in any event, we really did go to the mall to find a home.

(As I’ve said in the past, I’m also the one person I know who bought a home after visiting at an open house. I’m the exception to all of my own rules.)

The Model Home Centers still are in the malls and still get a lot of foot traffic from folks rushing between Victoria’s Secret and the ubiquitous Gap. (What ever happened to Miller’s Outpost, by the way? Or even Chess King?) But they’re not dominating in market share by any stretch of the imagination.

So the idea of setting up in Walmart isn’t unique. I’ve participated in Costco roadshows in the past and spent a couple of hours watching people duck me lest I try to begin talking to them above real estate. They’re at Costco to buy 30-gallon jugs of Wesson Oil for uses I dare not consider, not to buy a home.

I’ve got the same feeling about Walmart. Yes, there’s a ton of foot traffic. But if it’s not foot traffic for people actually looking to purchase real estate, what’s the point?

Maybe they’ll remember and come back later. But I know we went the route we did solely because there was no other way to find out information about homes. That’s not the case in 2007.

So does the idea of a brokerage setting up in Walmart worry me? Not particularly. Not any more than any other flavor of the month happens to worry me. All the same, I wish them all the luck in the world with the venture.

[tags]Phoenix real estate, real estate marketing[/tags]

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at


  • Chuck G 10 years ago

    Real estate is a numbers game.
    we had a rental property that a realtor was trying to sell through the mall.

    Like Wall mart. People are not walking around with fico’s ,dti’s,current w2’s
    posted to a t-shirt. You can always get people to look at house. It’s a question if they can get financed in this brave new world of lending.
    All kinds shop wall mart. But most shop
    pricepoint on everything.


  • Lani Anglin-Rosales 10 years ago

    The *only* benefit I can see reaping from the overpriced rent on space in Wal-Mart is branding. That’s a lot to pay for branding and I’m not sure it’s the kind of branding you’d want.

  • GundyGroup 10 years ago

    Brings new meaning to “watch out for falling prices”.

  • Portland Real Estate Guy 10 years ago

    I guess it depends on the type of group you want to market to. But it could work. It really is a numbers game at the end of the day.

  • Howard Arnoff 10 years ago

    Jonathan, actually I think they’ll do fairly well. We think that everyone knows a lot about real estate because we eat, drink and breathe it everyday but for many, it’s just a roof over their heads.

    Not everyone thoroughly investigates potential agents to represent them and not everyone searches all available homes online. Some buyers still drive around picking up brochures and call the listing agent to show the house and others just drop in the real estate office and get the on call agent to drive them around and buy a house.

    I think the numbers work for setting up shop in Wal Mart (or the mall), no retail store has more shoppers walking in the door than Wal Mart and by the way, prices ending in 7’s are psychologically lower for some unknown reason and I use it in listings whenever it makes sense.

  • Jonathan Dalton 10 years ago

    If I saw big numbers coming from groups already doing the same, Howard, I might be inclined to agree with you. But I’m just not seeing it.

    GundyGroup – that’s pretty funny, actually.

  • Howard Arnoff 10 years ago

    Jonathan, do you know what I found priceless about your post? I got such a visual picture of you going to the mall and being driven to Peoria and viewing some homes with some doofus agent.

    I just think a lot more people do it that way than we think. And having said that, setting up shop in Wal Mart isn’t what I would want to do but it might work for those so inclined.

  • Agent Scoreboard 10 years ago

    The model is fairly well proven, banks have had a great deal of success with in-store facilities since the late 90s.

    The key is branding, Wal-Mart has a tremendous amount of foot traffic, a small footprint operation could generate plenty of leads, which could turn into home visits, etc. It really doesn’t matter where you office is since real estate is sold in the field. A 5 minute conversation with an agent after buying some Quilted Northern… could turn into a sale.

    People laughed when they put a makeup counter in Macy’s too… change is coming..