West USA Realty agents Jerry Kirkman (left) and Doug Kelly (right) say they’ve gotten surprised looks from Walmart shoppers, but have already had some walk-in customers at the State Street store. Photo by Brad Iverson-Long.
Bargain hunters at the Garden City Walmart will soon be able to browse through lawn chairs, kitchen appliances and a house to put them in, all under the same roof.
Tim Bassett will hold a ribbon cutting for his West USA Realty office inside the Walmart on Aug. 8, though the office has quietly been open for several days. He hopes that the heavy traffic of repeat customers will lead people to think of his office when they are seeking to buy, sell or manage property.
“We’ll be on the forefront of people’s mind as they’re going through a line in Walmart,” said Bassett.
“You have thousands of people every week that go into the Walmart,” Bassett said. “Like anything else, it’s branding. You’re there. You’re available.”
The idea could be spreading to other Walmart stores in the region. Bassett has a franchise license for Idaho and Montana with West USA Realty and its partner, WW Franchise, to open offices in any Walmart Supercenter location. West USA, based in Phoenix, has affiliates in five states with plans to expand to a dozen more, all with the model of linking real estate to Walmart stores. Bassett said he’s negotiating to open other storefronts in the Treasure Valley.
Basset said the idea behind the concept is to have his office be on the top of someone’s mind if they have need for a real estate agent. Being in a location people visit frequently, like a Walmart, could help lodge his company in someone’s brain.
Doug Kelly, one of the agents at the West USA office, said many shoppers are surprised to see a real estate office in a Walmart, but said there’s already been some buying and selling activity. He also said locating inside the store could prove better than a recent trend of setting up real estate offices in shopping malls.
“People come to Walmart to shop,” Kelly said. “People go to the mall to hang out.”
Ada County Association of Realtors Executive Director Marc Lebowitz thinks the idea could work.
“Not too many people are going to make an impulse decision to buy a house, but they sure would make an impulse decision to talk to someone about it,” Lebowitz said.
While Walmart shoppers may not be on the market for million-dollar homes that can be a windfall for a real estate agent, Lebowitz said lower-price homes are in demand. The most desirable price point for home buyers, based on his association’s data from June, is between $120,000 and $200,000, followed by under $120,000. Locating in a Walmart could build new leads with clients looking to buy or sell in that price range, Lebowitz said, which can be a successful way to specialize.
“One of the things about real estate is everyone is an independent business person,” he said. “There’s lot of creative approaches.”
Bassett has been in real estate for seven years, specializing in real estate owned sales the past few years. He has six agents for the Garden City location, located near the intersection of State Street and Glenwood Avenue. The storefront also offers property management and business-to-business sales.