Out On Tour: Million dollar babies, five figure finds opened May 5-6 at P&C homes fest

The Post and Courier hosted its Spring Tour of Homes the weekend of May 5-6 in the Charleston area (Photo by Laura Olsen/Olsen Imagery).

By JIM PARKER The Post and Courier

When Debbie Knowles publicizes residences for sale, she typically goes to the source.

“Most people use the Internet,” the Keller Williams Realty agent says.

“But some areas are more visual.” She found that to be the case in the small, working class Ashley Plantation neighborhood off College Park Road.

“I have met a lot of neighbors. They are very friendly. They respond more to flyers,” says Knowles, who is listing a tidy cottage at 1202 Jeanna St. for $90,000.

Yet online or on paper, one thing is consistent, she says. If the goal is to bring customers by, the marketing pitch is bound to be the same: Come to an open house.

“Yeah, you definitely do (get more people looking at homes),” she says. In the case of the Jeanna Street property, the owner was initially reluctant to take part in an open house but Knowles won her over.

“I told her this would be a great opportunity.”

The barely 1,000-square-foot house in Ladson was one of 75 houses open May 5-6 for The Post and Courier’s Spring Tour of Homes.

Residences are in Berkeley, Dorchester and Charleston counties, range in size from about 1,000 to 5,000 or more square feet and are priced as high as $1.4 million.

A dozen or so real estate agencies, new-home builders and owners selling their residences on their own took part.

According to a 2011 profile of homebuyers and sellers by the National Association of Realtors, open houses are used as information sources by 45 percent of shoppers in their home searches.

Ross Lipman is hosting an open house for the first time at his 53 Gibbes St. home, which is priced at $950,000.

“I guess it’s one of the first steps in a larger marketing effort for the home,” he says. Other steps could include online promotions, such as going through a For Sale by Owner group to get information about the property via the area Multiple Listing Service.

At the weekend open houses, the owner planned to hand out one-page flyers detailing the five-bedroom, more than 3,900-square-foot property.

Lipman says he’s had some initial responses from a for sale sign. “We have shown it 15 times since the beginning of the year.” The open houses should attract even more traffic, he says, figuring they will be “an effective way to reach a lot of people.”

Open house events can entice people to properties that they may bypass or not explore if they just look at the exterior, says Lauri Huss, an associate with AgentOwned Realty Charleston Group who is helding open houses at 770 Rutledge Avenue in Wagener Terrace. The three-bedroom, 2,022 square foot home is listed at $399,000.

The property is in walking distance of The Citadel. “The backyard is really calm and quiet,” she says. Potential homebuyers wouldn’t be able to visualize the home’s highlights without walking through.

Shoppers shouldn’t “judge a book by the cover,” she says.

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