I need to save $0.49 on my shampoo … wait, maybe I'll buy a home too

Walmart_02 The Arizona Republic recently reported that Metro North Realty, a Phoenix based brokerage, opened an office inside the Peoria, Arizona Wal-Mart.

I like to think of myself as open minded. I like pushing the limits. But this one has me confused.

I wonder how any real estate company, poised on the edge of a bad market, tipping on the tightrope of trust, and trying to get top value for their sellers, could think that selling something — a home — priced in the hundreds of thousands of dollars inside a retail operation known for slashing vendors’ pricing models is a sound, prudent, idea.

According to Daniel McCarthy, Metro North’s Peoria office manager, he "expects the mega-retailer’s heavy foot traffic to translate into increased sales, giving the company an edge over other real-estate companies using traditional sales methods."

He "expects." No study. No numbers. No nothing. Just a hunch.

Given today’s market climate, shouldn’t real estate companies be doing more than grasping at straws such as this? Consider Wal-Mart’s rap in the minds of consumers. From blogs to documentaries. there is a world of negative energy around the company.

What do sellers think? Would they, you, want your half million dollar home on sale inside a low end brand box store, especially one that tends to cause disharmony in every community they open up in? Shouldn’t their long-standing history of disrupting local businesses and merchants be something a local real estate company considers before deciding to affiliate with?       

So where do we go from here? How far are some in this business prepared to go to dilute their brand for the sake of The Next Deal? Will we start seeing real estate banner ads on cyberporn sites? Or how about licensing toll booth takers? They can take change and hand out business cards at the same time. Think of the traffic.

You know why ambulance chasers don’t affect the reverence people have for high priced, Park Ave attorneys? It’s because people understand the difference between them. Unfortunately, this is too often not the case in real estate. It’s getting harder and harder for the consumer to know, off the bat, the differences between a seasoned pro and the agent in aisle 5.

And I think that is a problem. For everyone. Including the consumer.

If it were me, I’d be polishing up my new facility at Neiman Marcus. Guess I’ll just have to see where this one goes.

–  Davison