By JIM PARKER

The Post and Courier

When sellers invite the public into their homes as part of a tour, the lookers may or may not be there to buy.

Yet such showcases usually lead to some sort of activity, from jolting shoppers into exploring the market further to luring neighbors to promote the homes among their friends.

And when they take place on a large scale, such as The Post and Courier’s Spring Tour of Homes 2-5 p.m. today and Sunday, the events can boost interest in properties that lack typical drive-by traffic and in the whole process of purchasing and unloading single-family dwellings, condominiums or townhouses.

“That’s the beauty of this type of open house,” says Gordon Fuqua, agent with Prudential Southern Coast Real Estate who is hosting two homes this weekend.

A total of 78 properties for sale can be viewed on the self-guided tour. They’re all over the place: Moncks Corner, Summerville, North Charleston, Daniel Island, Mount Pleasant, Seabrook Island, West Ashley, Johns Island and Folly Beach. At least one open house is on Edisto Island.

Residences are available from $119,000 to $1.6 million and from two bedrooms and two baths to five bedrooms and five baths. New homes are on the tour, as well as lived-in models. A few date back several decades.

“We are hoping we can get some interest,” says Didie Koger, a Realtor with Carolina One Real Estate who with husband and fellow Carolina One agent Herb Koger are opening a 10-year-old house for sale at 201 Old Hickory Crossing on Johns Island.

The Kogers dropped the price by $100,000 on the luxury home in Grimball Gates, which recently went back up for sale after two months off the market.

Likewise, Fuqua is seeking a good-sized turnout for his properties, 2400 East Tuscany single family home in The Elms of Charleston in North Charleston and a condominium at 415 19A Parkdale Drive west of the Ashley.

“I guess the important thing is the exposure,” he says.

According to national surveys, open houses remain relatively popular even in today’s online instant access age.

A pre-recession report by MSN Real Estate showed that consumer feelings for open houses run hot and cold depending on the strength and weakness of the real estate business.

In 1995, the National Association of Realtors reported that 41 percent of buyers surveyed relied on open houses to sell their home. Five years later, the rate had dipped to 28 percent. But as the market gained speed, so did open houses — reaching 51 percent usage by sellers in 2005, the MSN Real Estate report says.

More recent NAR statistics show the overwhelming growth of online shopping: 88 percent of shoppers today use the Internet in a home search. Even so, 45 percent of house hunters took advantage of open houses.

For owners trying to sell their homes themselves, open houses accounted for 19 percent of marketing. Yard signs were the most popular marketing tool among FSBOs at 44 percent.

Fuqua says open houses often attract neighbors who are curious what the residence looks like on the inside. If they’re impressed, they may tell friends who are looking to move here from out of town, for instance Charlotte. The open house goers “are almost like salespeople,” he says.

According to Didie Koger, agents use open houses in some cases to line up potential clients, “people who are browsing and don’t have an agent.”

The Kogers listing on Johns Island is in a gated community, so the special open house should allow more people to view a house that’s already proven quite popular. “It’s excellent,” Koger says. “People love it.”

If the Post and Courier Tour of Homes is not enough, then Coldwell Banker United, Realtors separately is hosting its Open House Extravaganza 1-5 p.m. today and Sunday.

Close to 40 homes can be visited in Charleston, Goose Creek, Hanahan, Johns Island, Ladson, Moncks Corner, Mount Pleasant, North Charleston and Summerville. Participants can register to win an iPad.

For more information, visit http://CBCarolinas-OpenHouses.com. A listing is also in the “A” Section of today’s and Sunday’s Post and Courier.

To learn more about the P&C Tour of Homes, check out the listings in today’s Real Estate section. Tour goers can register at each house for a chance to win a $100 gift card.

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com.