Can you tell me where I can find a list of all the Open Houses that are happening in my area this Sunday?
I've been asked this question lots of times and I have always had to answer, “I'm sorry. There is no single, good source. Everyplace is going to list the ones they are promoting.” Sadly, this is still the case. The Seattle Times classifieds was the defacto hub of information for Open Houses during the pre-internet-print-is-king era.Now that the web has taken over as the main source of any information, a “Complete Open House Times and Locations Guide” should be as easy as pulling up a Google Map. But it's not.
Enter the major Brokerage Firms
Our NWMLS (Northwest Multiple Listing Service) does publish open house information if the agent requests it. However the larger brokerage firms restrict their agents from participating in publishing this information. Why? Because they all want you to come to THEIR websites and just see THEIR listings. God forbid that smaller companies might ride on the coattails of this and reap the benefits of centralized exposure to the public of their listings.
Meanwhile, the consumer looses. They don't care which brokerage has the open house. All they care about is finding out about ALL of them in their desired price range and location. Until the brokerages figure out that not sharing is a loose-loose proposition, they are going to hold on tightly to one of the few pieces of information that they think they can control, even to the detriment of the industry as a whole.
Enter the free upstart website
Craigslist is generally a good source for open house information and has been devastating to the Seattle Times Classified section as more and more Sellers and agents realize that this is a popular source of information for Buyers to find out about real estate listings and open houses. The problem is that it is hopelessly unorganized and difficult to filter well. Properties scroll off quickly and the average consumer misses a number of worthwile ads.
For now, here is a list of the various companies sites where you can find Seattle area open house information and then assemble it yourself.
Keep in mind that ads placed in the company-sponsored sections of the The Seattle Times classifieds (often referred to as “block ads”) DO NOT automatically show up when you search on the NWSource website. If available, these ads are often an extra charge to the agents and may or may not be included in the ads they have placed.
NWMLS Open House mapping feature could be a GREAT tool for agents AND consumers. But because the major brokerages and some of the smaller brokerages refuse to participate, and because it currently doesn't differentiate between “Brokers Open” and “Public Open” events, consumers are on their own to dig and find the open houses they may want to see. (sources tell me that in the next major update, the NWMLS will be able to break out public vs. brokers open houses) Hopefully the NWMLS will start offering a report of this that can be emailed or subscribed to. That might be the tipping-point that would get other brokerages to participate.
Then there is the old-fashion way
The one sure method for Buyers: Get in your car and drive around the areas you are interested in. Agents almost always put out a sign to lure you in, even if the collective NWMLS Brokers won't help them online.