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Bring On the Wal-Mart Mortgage, America Says

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Consumers want in on what remains of the nation's cheap real estate, and for some polled by Carlisle & Gallagher, a Charlotte, N.C.-based management and consulting firm, the best way could be getting a mortgage from Wal-Mart.

In fact, one in three consumers say they would "consider" a Wal-Mart (WMT - Get Report) mortgage, the company says.

Part of this could be wishful thinking from people feeling they're missing out on affordable homes.

Coldwell Banker is out with its newest list of America's most expensive and affordable real estate markets. The top six most expensive markets are all in California, with Los Altos the priciest market at $1.7 million for an average home purchase; the most affordable U.S. market: Redford, Mich., where you can snap up a home for $60,000 (nearby Detroit is third on the list, at $65,000 for a new home).

"Overall, the report found the average listing price of a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home in the U.S. to be $292,152," Coldwell Banker says in its most recent Home Listing Report. "Affordability remains strong in many markets across the country, as 36% of the markets analyzed by the report had an average home listing price of less than $200,000 for four-bedroom, two-bathroom homes."

But bank executives find they're increasingly not part of the homeowner vision, as 80% of consumers surveyed by Carlisle & Gallagher say they would check out a "non-bank" for their next mortgage. The company interviewed 618 American adults in September, and the results are surprising and alarming for traditional mortgage lenders. (In the survey, 48% would even consider a mortgage from PayPal.)

The data are revealing in several ways. For starters, mortgage consumers generally like their homebuying experience with banks -- 81% of respondents say they had a "high" consumer satisfaction rate with banks when landing a mortgage. But mortgage buyers have complaints too:
  • High interest rates, high payments and taxes and escrow are the top three most frustrating issues regarding consumers' current mortgages.
  • 56% of consumers blame slow execution as one of the most painful aspects of the mortgage process.
  • 32% said traditional lenders are difficult to communicate with.
  • 31% said they are unable to track the status of their mortgage application.
  • 26% said they are given untrustworthy advice.

So there you have it: higher prices and fees, slow execution timetables, lack of transparency and lousy advice are turning consumers away from banks and toward alternative providers such as Wal-Mart.

More amazingly, Wal-Mart and PayPal don't even offer consumer mortgages or have formalized plans to do so (although Wal-Mart does offer small-business loans at its Sam's Club subsidiary).

That can't be good news for banks, but it may be a real eye-opener down in Bentonville, Ark.

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