It used to be the way to know who the players were. All the top agents toured other broker's listings once a week and previewed all the new inventory. But times have changed. And with rising gas prices and the vastly improved addition of photos with listings on the internet, agents have gotten away from what was an important part of the job. Personal knowledge of the inventory in your area was something good agents were proud of. I used to brag of previewing 50-75 homes every week. Nowadays it's more like 5-10 homes.
Touring was also a great way to get to know your co-op agents from other companies. It was always a good opportunity to chat and talk about the market with your competitors and learn in advance about upcoming listings. When presenting offers for buyers it always helped if you had a personal face-to-face relationship with the listing agent, even if it was just through touring. And there always seemed to be an opportunity to strike up a conversation with a curious neighbor who might someday turn into a seller who would remember you.
I loved it. One of the main reasons I got into real estate is I love looking at property. I used to get a list of brokers opens every morning and set up a map, making sure that the open times dove-tailed so that I wouldn't miss the home I really wanted to see. I would usually be able to see around 10 in two or three hours.
Now that the market has slowed a bit, maybe we should remember why buyers value our opinion and advice: Because we know the market! And how do we get to be experts on the market? TOURING, TOURING, TOURING!