Is Your Open House In The NWMLS For ALL To See?

FrontThe last few weeks have been extremely busy open house wise for us in Seattle – mostly in the $400,000 and under price range or close to it.  Agent hits on the NWMLS for those listings has also soared and the web traffic in general has increased for this price point.   The buyers are definitely out there poking around!

Many of  my recent open house visitors have been Redfin buyers.  They seem to expect to be treated poorly by other agents at opens.   Maybe this is just my own perception, but they are physically cringing upon entrance.  I guess it could be my outfit or my hair, but more likely it must have to do with the typical reception a Redfin buyer might get.  The point of an open house has always been for the hosting agent to meet, network, and possibly pick up new clients.  Although it is also great exposure for the listed property, very rarely does the open house sell the home – at least it didn’t used to

Enter Redfin. 

Redfin arguably has one of the nicest real estate search websites and their open house feature is probably second to none.  I can’t keep up with their changing business model and have no idea how effective or not they are for their clients, but do love their site and always welcome Redfin buyers to my open houses.  Redfin buyers seem to almost always be actively looking for a home.  They meticulously schedule and map out the open houses they plan to visit and they come with questions prepared.  In short, they are serious.

One little problem: 

Open houses that show up on the site are swept from the NWMLS when a listing agent enters the information in the “public open houses” field of their listing and not all listing agents do this.  Some companies prefer to hold on to that information and only enter their open houses on their corporate site alone.   Soon enough, though, most agents will hopefully catch up and realize that not entering their opens for all to see is a disservice to the seller.    Just looking at Seattle stats alone in the NWMLS, Redfin has sold 62 residential properties and 9 condos since the beginning of the year.  Redfin buyers are clearly putting a dent in the inventory. 

Redfin aside, it is just smart business and good representation to enter your open house into the NWMLS so that you expose your seller’s property to as many potential buyers as possible.

When showing houses, watch where you’re stepping

Real Estate photographers come across some interesting subjects and situations in the course of their work but this one is at the top of my list. An inter – species friendship that’s truly unique…


And when you’re showing houses, please watch where you’re stepping. The gal on the right would really appreciate that.

Seattle Area Open House Information Sources

Can you tell me where I can find a list of all the Open Houses that are happening in my area this Sunday?

boy-looking-at-toy-houseI’ve been asked this question lots of times and I have always had to answer, “I’m sorry. There is no single, good source. Everyplace is going to list the ones they are promoting.” Sadly, this is still the case. The Seattle Times classifieds was the defacto hub of information for Open Houses during the pre-internet-print-is-king era. Now that the web has taken over as the main source of any information, a “Complete Open House Times and Locations Guide” should be as easy as pulling up a Google Map. But it’s not.

Enter the major Brokerage Firms
Our NWMLS (Northwest Multiple Listing Service) does publish open house information if the agent requests it. However the larger brokerage firms restrict their agents from participating in publishing this information. Why? Because they all want you to come to THEIR websites and just see THEIR listings. God forbid that smaller companies might ride on the coattails of this and reap the benefits of centralized exposure to the public of their listings.

Meanwhile, the consumer looses. They don’t care which brokerage has the open house. All they care about is finding out about ALL of them in their desired price range and location. Until the brokerages figure out that not sharing is a loose-loose proposition, they are going to hold on tightly to one of the few pieces of information that they think they can control, even to the detriment of the industry as a whole.

Enter the free upstart website
Craigslist is generally a good source for open house information and has been devastating to the Seattle Times Classified section as more and more Sellers and agents realize that this is a popular source of information for Buyers to find out about real estate listings and open houses. The problem is that it is hopelessly unorganized and difficult to filter well. Properties scroll off quickly and the average consumer misses a number of worthwhile ads.

For now, here is a list of a few of the various companies Open House sites where you can find Seattle area open house information and then assemble it yourself.

Coldwell Banker Bain Open Houses

Winderemere Open Houses

John L Scott Open Houses

Re/MAX Open Houses

Craigslist Open Houses
(I recommend you search for “open” rather than “open house’ – otherwise you may miss alternate titles eg. “Open Sunday”. Use price and bedrooms to filter further.)

Seattle Times Open Houses
Keep in mind that ads placed in the company-sponsored sections of the The Seattle Times classifieds (often referred to as “block ads”) DO NOT automatically show up when you search on the NWSource website. If available, these ads are often an extra charge to the agents and may or may not be included in the ads they have placed.


NWMLS Open House mapping feature could be a GREAT tool for agents AND consumers. But because the major brokerages and some of the smaller brokerages refuse to participate, and because it currently doesn’t differentiate between “Brokers Open” and “Public Open” events, consumers are on their own to dig and find the open houses they may want to see. (sources tell me that in the next major update, the NWMLS will be able to break out public vs. brokers open houses) Hopefully the NWMLS will start offering a report of this that can be emailed or subscribed to. That might be the tipping-point that would get other brokerages to participate.

Then there is the old-fashion way
The one sure method for Buyers: Get in your car and drive around the areas you are interested in. Agents almost always put out a sign to lure you in, even if the collective NWMLS Brokers won’t help them online.