Frank 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]