First-ever REALTOR® Nationwide Open House set for April 10-11

Thursday, March 25, 2010

From Cheri Brennen, Seattle KingCounty REALTORS

Several hundred homes currently offered for sale around King County will be open for previewing on Saturday, April 10 and Sunday, April 11.

Members of Seattle KingCounty REALTORS® are inviting prospective home buyers to tour the listings as part of the first annual REALTOR Nationwide Open House Weekend. The homes will be flagged with blue REALTOR balloons.

Russell Hokanson, CEO of Seattle KingCounty REALTORS (SKCR), said the 6,000-plus members in King County are encouraged to participate in the upcoming event, with the goal of doubling or tripling the number of open houses on a typical weekend. Along with the large selection, he said consumers can expect other benefits during the Nationwide Open House Weekend, including the chance to tour homes while the federal buyer tax credit is still available.

Prospective home buyers can plan self-directed tours of open houses without being escorted by an agent, Hokanson noted, adding they can also arrange their own itinerary using online tools. Most REALTOR brokerages participate in the “Public Open House Service” of the Northwest Multiple Listing Service, he explained. When visiting a participating brokerage’s website, consumers can click on an open house symbol, and then specify certain criteria such as price range, number of bedrooms, and geographic preferences. A list of open houses that match the criteria, regardless of which brokerage has the listing, is produced so house-hunters can plan their tour schedules and routes. 

Hokanson said SKCR members taking part in the nationwide open house weekend will have details on various home-buying incentives that are available, including the tax credits for first-time and current owners who meet certain eligibility requirements. To take advantage of those incentives, purchasers must have a written binding contract in effect by April 30, and the transaction must close before July 1.
“There are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for home ownership in our community,” Hokanson remarked, citing improved affordability, attractive interest rates and ample selection across the price spectrum as favorable factors. Realtors will be able to explain the benefits of homeownership and provide information on the home buying process and options for financing the home purchase.
The “Housing Affordability Index,” (HAI) compiled by the Washington Center for Real Estate Research, shows tremendous improvement, Hokanson noted. The index measures the ability of a middle income family to carry the mortgage payments on a median priced home, he explained. When the index is 100, there is a balance between the family’s ability to pay and the cost.

The most recent figures for King County show the “HAI” was 101.9 for the third quarter of 2009. For the same period in 2008, it was 76.9. During 2007, it was at or below 40.

This marks the second year for a statewide open house. Last year’s event, presented by Washington Realtors and 29 local Realtor Associations, featured more than 5,000 open houses throughout Washington. It became the model for this year’s national effort. 

Photos provided by Jack Malek, Shoreline Windermere

The Seattle King County REALTORS®, with 6,000-plus members, is a local board of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Its members participate in matters at all levels of government that affect private property rights, housing supplies, affordability and homeownership opportunities. Membership is voluntary, and only members may use the term REALTOR®, which is a licensed collective trademark.


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