Massachusetts Realtors Gear Up for 'Nationwide Open House'

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The Patriot Ledger (Massachusetts)
By: Jon Chesto
April 9, 2010

You may notice more open house signs than normal in your neighborhood this weekend, as local real estate agents participate in what's being billed as the first "nationwide open house."
Realtor associations in more than 35 states agreed to increase the number of open houses this weekend to draw attention to the inventory and lure home buyers before generous federal tax credits expire at the end of the month.

In Massachusetts, the listings of open houses this weekend can be searched by municipality and, in many towns, by neighborhood at MaRealtorOpenHouse.com.

Jean Sawtelle, a spokeswoman for the Plymouth and South Shore Association of Realtors, said the event's origins can be traced to a Realtors convention in November in San Diego, where a speaker discussed a successful statewide open house in Washington last year. The event was conducted before the first-time home buyer federal tax credit was originally scheduled to expire last fall.

Sawtelle said more than 400 open houses are planned on the South Shore alone this weekend.

Rita Coffey, general manager at Century 21 Tullish & Clancy in Weymouth, said her agency has 18 open houses planned for this weekend. That's more than twice the typical amount for an April weekend, Coffey said.

Kevin Sears, co-owner of Sears Real Estate in Springfield and president of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, said he has twice as many open houses than normal planned for this weekend as well.

Many potential first-time home buyers are feeling pressured to find a house because they need a purchase-and-sale agreement by April 30 to qualify for an $8,000 tax credit. A similar deadline confronts so-called "move-up" buyers who want to use a $6,500 credit to help buy their next house.

The open house event coincides with MassHousing's annual "Opportunity Knocks" series of fairs for first-time home buyers. The quasi-public agency will conduct fairs this weekend at five malls, including one from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday at South Shore Plaza in Braintree. The events offer free counseling services for prospective buyers.

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