Open Door Policy: Dozens of householders, agents trumpet abodes as part of Post and Courier homes tour

A split direction front staircase marks 561 Flannery Place, one of 50 houses on The Post and Courier Fall Tour of Homes. The house, located in Alston Point in Mount Pleasant, is priced at $849,900 (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).

By JIM PARKER

The Post and Courier

Luring prospective buyers and spurring traffic for sellers are oft-cited perks of an open house, but in Cathy Rosenblum’s case, it landed her a job.

Rosenblum, a local Realtor with AgentOwned Realty, is from South Korea. A Korean couple she knows was excited about an open house and wanted to make an offer, but the listing agent was on vacation. Rosenblum, assisting with the language barrier, was able to contact the agent, and the couple purchased the house. Her friends, after hearing the story, urged her to get into the business. It dawned on her that they were right.

“Duh, I could have had a V8,” Rosenblum quipped, citing the vegetable juice pitch where a disappointed beverage drinker suddenly realizes an obvious alternative taste treat. She obtained her real estate license and launched her career as an agent in 2005.

The Realtor is opening two houses this weekend, on James Island and in Covington Hills in North Charleston, as part of The Post and Courier’s 2012 Fall Tour of Homes.

“For sellers, hopefully, more people come and see it,” Rosenblum says. Potential buyers, meanwhile, get to view houses they might not otherwise check out. “People come from all walks of life,” she says.

The Post and Courier is sponsoring the homes tour, to be held today and Sunday across the Charleston area. Kathryn Tupper, real estate advertising manager, says 50 homes will be open for the tour.

Residences range in price from the $130,000s to close to $2 million, and are as far away as Eutawville.

Existing homes will be on the tour as will inventory from home contractors with local offices. “It’s a great way to get additional exposure,” says Brian Wagner, division manager with Dan Ryan Builders.

The company will have homes ready for viewing today and Sunday in Foxbank Plantation in Moncks Corner, Sophia Landing in Goose Creek and Colony North off Ashley Phosphate Road.

“I’ve had good luck (with open houses),” he says. Wagner doesn’t expect to clinch more than one transaction as a direct result of the weekend open house blitz, “but that’s fine,” he says. The events get the word out for future sales.

Margarita Staudt, broker-in-charge of year-old CHS Properties, is fond of open houses, having hosted them many times during her 20-year real estate career.

Staudt is overseeing a property for sale in Sandpiper Point subdivision off Wingo Way in Mount Pleasant.

“I do open houses pretty regularly,” she says. “It gives property more exposure, even if you get a lot of (tire-kicking) neighbors,” she says. Community residents who go to open houses typically spread the word among their friends, she says. Meanwhile, prospective buyers who drive by an open house can stop and walk through the residence, which is a feature “they wouldn’t be able to online,” Staudt says.

By contrast, Karen Hardman, agent with Santee Associates Realty, is comparatively new to hosting open houses. Her coverage area has few open houses because it’s mostly property in the country or small towns where there’s not enough people to make it worthwhile.

But Hardman says she is trying out an open house for a home she’s listed for $349,000 on Lake Marion in the Red Bank neighborhood of outer Eutawville.

“I’m hoping it will (draw interest),” she says. “Obviously, the more people we’ve got to see the property, the more chances of selling it.”

Hardman says the residence comes with intriguing features. “It’s got an absolutely spectacular view of the lake, on what we call ‘big water.’” Sights stretch almost to companion Lake Moultrie.

Handicap accessible, the three-bedroom and three-bath property is on a “gently sloped lot,” she says. Large front windows provide ample viewing of the lake.

“We’re just hoping people might want to be on water but can’t afford Charleston area water (locales),” Hardman says.

In Summerville, Dick Miler of Miler Properties is opening 312 Clifton St., a 1,750-square-foot antebellum house priced at $324,900.

Miler says open houses are popular for the exposure but also the partnerships built up with the owners. “They get to have their house in neon lights on Broadway,” he quipped.

The Post and Courier-sponsored tour takes place as the housing market, based on recent indicators, is recovering from a five-year slump. Still, sales and price gains remain inconsistent.

“It’s been really much better than last year,” says Wagner, of Dan Ryan Builders. “We are seeing a little (September) slowdown,” but that’s typical, he says. Fewer parents are shopping for homes now that school is back in session, and people are looking ahead to the holidays and aren’t eager to spend big bucks now, Wagner says. He named one obstacle that’s unusual to this year: “We have the added hang-up of the election,” he says, noting that potential home buyers may be waiting until after the presidential vote in November to decide about a house.

Hardman says rural Lake Marion has been slow to see a rebound. At the same time, “I would say this year is a little better than the previous year,” she says.

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