Memphis Realtors open 1,200 homes this weekend for national event – The Commercial Appeal Newspaper

By Tom Bailey Jr.

Posted April 10, 2010 at midnight


The solar system seems aligned for the Realtors’ “Nationwide Open House” this weekend: Depressed prices, still-low interest rates, a fast-approaching deadline for homebuyer tax credits, and even sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-70’s.


On a typical weekend in the Memphis area, Realtors stage 250-400 open houses. But with the coordinated event, this weekend is hardly typical.


“As of now we have more than 1,200 scheduled for this Saturday and Sunday, and that number has been going up every time I’ve checked today,” said Scott Shearin, spokesman for Memphis Area Association of Realtors.


House hunters can drive around looking for blue balloons that mark homes participating in the sales event.


A Realtors’ site, midsouthopenhouses .com, is a guide to area open houses; The Commercial Appeal’s 44-page Homefinder section, in the Sunday edition, also will include hundreds of open-house listings to assist buyers.


And many individual real estate agencies have open-house information on their Web sites.


The largest agency in the Memphis area, Crye-Leike, normally has 40-50 open houses, but will host 120 this weekend.


“We’re seeing more folks out there looking right now,” said that agency’s co-founder and president, Dick Leike.


“Open houses are pretty effective, especially if we can have a pretty weekend.”


House hunters might come to an open house because the exterior seems appealing and they’re curious.


But the real estate agent inside is hoping to form a working relationship whether the prospect ends up choosing that house or not.


“The agent is out there trying to do the best they can to reach buyers, and if that buyer would like that house, that’s just a home run,” Leike said. “But at least maybe establish a rapport with the buyer.”


With so many more open houses to choose from, this weekend offers an ideal situation for lookers.


“It’s a lot easier way than setting up an appointment and so forth,” Leike said. “This will get your answer for you.”


Glenn A. Moore, president of the Memphis Area Association of Realtors, said last month of this weekend’s event, “For the serious buyer, the opportunity to tour dozens of homes in one weekend is a real time-saver, and others who don’t think they could afford a home might be drawn into the market by affordable prices and low interest rates.”


A federal tax credit of up to $8,000 is available for first-time homebuyers who have a purchase contract in place by April 30. Existing homeowners could qualify for up to a $6,500 credit if they purchase another house by the same deadline.


Just this week, a real estate information company, Clear Capital, reported the Memphis area’s sales prices declined more — 18.1 percent — than in any other major city in the nation over the past four months.


— Tom Bailey Jr.: 529-2388