It’s official, you can get a mortgage at Walmart now.
So next time you’re grocery shopping, or picking up other essentials, you can apply for a home loan as well.
There was talk of a “Walmart Mortgage” years ago, as there was an Amazon Mortgage.
Back then, it seemed every major company, whether in the financial space or not, was pondering the idea of offering home loans.
But it seems only Walmart has made good on it, at a most unusual time.
The First Walmart Mortgage Location Has Launched
On Friday, the very first Walmart-based in-store branch Lenders One location opened in Newton, New Jersey.
To unpack that real quick, Lenders One is a national cooperative of mortgage and real estate companies owned by publicly-traded Altisource.
Lenders One consists of more than 250 mortgage companies, including banks, credit unions, independent mortgage banks, and real estate/home builder-affiliated firms.
The companies apparently originate anywhere between $50 million to $25 billion per year.
So a third-party company (that consists of many smaller companies) has opened up shop inside a Walmart location.
This particular Lenders One company is Family First Funding, LLC, which was founded in 2011.
They are based in Toms River, NJ, which is about 100 miles away from the Walmart.
In that sense, a locally operated mortgage company has opened a branch within Walmart.
This is somewhat similar to the arrangement independent mortgage companies had via the Costco Mortgage program.
However, the Costco program merely provided a list of preferred lenders on its website that customers could apply with and receive discounts and capped fees.
To my knowledge, there was never a physical mortgage presence inside Costco warehouses, despite most folks knowing about the program.
Anyway, that shuttered back in May, though it’s unclear why. Costco never said why the program came to an end, but they sure picked a good time to exit the mortgage business.
After all, mortgage rates increased from the 3% range to the 7% range in the months thereafter, making them look pretty smart in hindsight.
Two More Walmart Mortgage Locations Coming Soon
Within the next 30 days, another two Walmart-based in-store Lenders One branch locations will open.
One will be located in Orlando, Florida, also operated by Family First Funding.
And the other a Boonton, New Jersey location powered by MLB Residential Lending, LLC, which is based out of Springfield, NJ.
These in-store branch grand openings are part of a nationwide pilot program announced by Walmart back in March 2022.
Lenders One expects to open additional branch locations in Walmart stores throughout the country, including in California, Ohio, South Carolina and Texas. It’s not clear how many will eventually open.
The idea behind the initiative is to increase business for member companies via retail foot traffic they wouldn’t otherwise enjoy.
After all, very few people probably stroll into a standalone retail mortgage office to inquire about home loans.
But if they’re already in a Walmart doing some shopping, the idea of homeownership might pique their interest.
Walmart Mortgage Is a Store Within a Store
When it comes down to it, this new launch is effectively a store within a store, or more accurately a mortgage branch within a mega retailer.
To that end, any number of different businesses could lease space inside a Walmart and pitch their products.
Lenders One president Justin Demola noted that the physical in-store locations will help its members “connect with and educate the local community about opportunities to achieve the American Dream of homeownership.”
And even if they don’t qualify for a mortgage today, Lenders One members can provide them with home buyer education and other resources “to help them become mortgage ready in the future.”
So it’s not technically a “Walmart Mortgage,” but rather an outlet of Lenders One, which as mentioned can be one of many different mortgage companies.
It’s unclear if there will be a centralized approach, such as uniform marketing materials across different Walmart locations, or a fixed lending menu.
My guess is that mortgage rates, loan programs, fees, and customer experience will vary based upon the Lenders One company in charge of that particular branch.
But Walmart customers will now get to “enjoy the convenience” of being able to inquire about a home loan, or even apply for one at select branches.
And instead of interacting with a computer of smartphone app, they’ll get the old-fashioned simplicity of a face-to-face interaction.
Some consumers might be itching for that, especially when it involves a major life purchase.