Big open house crowds on the Eastside overwhelm real estate brokers
February 9, 2016
Marc Stiles, Puget Sound Business Journal
Six years ago during the depths of the recession, Bellevue real estate broker Ann Pierson said agents were lucky if even one person showed up to an open house.
These days, as many as 300 people are streaming through Eastside houses on a weekend. The result not only has brokers beefing up staffing but altering strategies that, if widely adapted, could shake up the home-selling market.
Houses for sale in the Somerset area of Bellevue are attracting large open house crowds, overwhelming real estate brokers. Now some brokers are advising sellers not to allow pre-inspections.
Demand for houses in the Puget Sound region is off the charts as buyers compete for a limited inventory. Bidding wars are still the norm, and buyers are trying to elbow their way to the front of the line by having the house pre-inspected. In a highly charged market such as the current one, a pre-inspection allows buyers to show sellers that they’re serious because they won’t be submitting their offers with an inspection contingency. Based on the current trend, however, the days of pre-inspections look to be diminishing, at least in some markets.
Pierson, who works in a John L. Scott Real Estate, said she is now counseling sellers not to allow pre-inspections.
“This is a brand new strategy for me. No house needs 14 inspections done to it,” she said. “Each time somebody crawls through the crawl space, they’re potentially ripping the Visqueen.
Pierson met last week with other top-selling brokers and learned that around a third of them also are limiting pre-inspections. “So, yes, I think this is going to be one of the new trends,” she said.
While house sellers can say no to pre-inspections, they cannot turn away the near hordes of people who show up to their open houses.
Pierson said she had 300 people come through a house over two days in Bellevue’s Somerset neighborhood at the end of December. To handle the volume, she has a second broker or an assistant on hand to help ensure that all legitimate buyers can talk to someone in charge.
“The truth is in Somerset this has been going on for a couple years,” said Pierson, adding that the big crowds are tough on a property, especially on rainy days.
“That’s a lot of wear and tear. It’s like having a big party,” Pierson said.