The debate about the effectiveness of open houses as a marketing tactic will undoubtedly go on, but there will be no Realtors Nationwide Open House Weekend this year.
The communications directors of state and local Realtor associations voted not to move forward with a national event in 2014 at the National Association of Realtors’ annual meeting in November.
“They just felt that the event had run its course,” said NAR spokeswoman Sara Wiskerchen.
The event, typically held in the spring, offered Realtors a chance to chat up prospective clients about housing markets, homeownership, and the value of working with a Realtor. But if held this year, the event would be unlikely to offer up one benefit of prior years — the opportunity to see a wide range of homes for sale.
“(M)any associations said their inventory was too low to warrant any interest from members,” said Leanne High, a NAR public affairs associate.
First arising in some markets in 2012, inventory shortages have now become common nationwide. Housing inventory last month fell 9.3 percent to 1.86 million existing homes available for sale — a 4.6-month supply of homes at the current sales pace and far from the six months widely considered to be a balance between a buyer’s market and a seller’s market.
State and local associations first held the Realtors Nationwide Open House Weekend in 2010, partially to remind potential homebuyers of an approaching deadline to take advantage of federal homebuyer tax credits meant to strengthen the lackluster housing market.
In 2012, Realtors scheduled at least 31,078 open houses with a total listing price of $14.3 billion in conjunction with the event, according to realtor.com data.
That year, 60 percent of agents and brokers polled by Inman News said they used open houses as part of their strategy for marketing listings and 38 percent said they planned to participate in the Realtors Nationwide Open House Weekend.
Most respondents, 62.6 percent, said the primary purpose of the event was to promote Realtors and real estate professionals. Only about 1 in 5 said the event was intended to connect buyers and sellers.
The nationwide open house is not an official NAR event, though the 1 million-member trade group has supported it by providing resources and national publicity.
In a note to association executives, NAR encouraged local and state Realtor associations to host their own local Realtor open house events any time throughout the year, despite the discontinuation of the national event.
Wiskerchen said NAR is providing nearly all of the same online tools and resources that were available to associations and members in the past.
“This includes talking points to use with media about Realtor open house events; a field guide with articles, links and safety tips to help Realtors increase their open house success; a column to promote open house events in the local paper, blogs and newsletters; and a fill-in-the-blanks news release to promote the Realtor open house events,” she said.