Want to pick a fight in a roomful of real estate agents? Ask them whether they think open houses are worthwhile.

We did the virtual equivalent of that, sending out an online request for comments from real estate agents about the effectiveness of open houses — and they responded by filling up the old inbox faster than we could clean it out. Their responses range from passionate conviction that open houses are a must — to cynical observations that they’re of benefit to no one other than to agents who are trolling for new clients.

So, in a departure from our typical "five things you should know" feature for consumers, we’re doing a two-part look at the topic here. This week: Five reasons for homeowners to consider holding an open house. Coming up next week: Five reasons to forgo it.

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