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Real estate games: Serious business?

Open-house contest driven by mobile gaming platform

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By NANCY GARCIA Shopping for homes can be recreational. A lot of organizing by party-planners, a little spontaneity on the part of shoppers, and games to inspire good-old-fashioned mingling may be a win-win-win combination for real estate. That's what Homefinder.com CEO Tim Fagan found when his online listing service teamed with an Atlanta brokerage and local businesses to create a competition for a $20,000 downpayment. The Sept. 25 "Race for the Home" event, planned and executed by gaming platform SCVNGR, essentially converted 50 open houses into a virtual game board. Competitors downloaded challenges at each location. Simple challenges included asking a question of the open-house agent, counting amenities, or snapping a photo of tea in a sunroom. After three hours, the nearly 500 contestants gathered in a brewpub to cool down and learn who achieved winning scores. Runners-up received prizes, such as T-shirts or sports tickets. The winning couple, newlyweds Adam an...