With less than three weeks until federal tax credits for homebuyers expire on April 30, the National Association of Realtors  and regional real-estate associations are holding mass open houses of homes and condos for sale this weekend, on April 10 and 11, to spur offers. Since the $8,000 tax credits are targeted at first-time homebuyers, it's not surprising that many of the homes that are opening their doors are priced at or below $400,000, what (in Seattle anyway) is the more affordable end of the market.

As of mid-day Friday, 2,650 single-family homes and condos in King County—about 20% of  all homes and condos for sale in the area—were scheduled for the open-house-palooza, according to Cheri Brennan, a publicist who works with the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) and the Seattle-King County Association of Realtors. Historical open house data are hard to come by, but anecdotally, a busy weekend in these parts would see fewer than 1,000 open houses.

The usefulness of open houses is a subject of much debate among both sellers and agents. Some say that open houses rarely attract serious buyers, since those buyers may already be working with agents who can help them tour listings on their own. But for looky-loos, neighbors, fence-sitters, or those just curious how much home or condo you get for various prices, there's no denying that open houses provide a little something to do on a weekend. With credits set to expire, some agents say they expect a lot of traffic, especially at homes at the more-affordable end of the scale—like this one, a $410,000 rambler in Loyal Heights listed by Liz Talley from Windermere.

[caption id="attachment_34928" align="alignleft" width="268" caption="Photo by Tucker English"][/caption]
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