Real estate agents say open houses are helpful in today's market

When Realtor Joeanna Basi held an open house for a 1956 custom home in Modesto's college neighborhood, she went all out.She dressed in a vintage-inspired outfit, complete with apron, high heels and pearls. She met each prospective buyer at the door with a plate of homemade cookies, much like the 1950s housewife would have greeted her husband with a martini.

Sure, Basi's retro act — she even staged the home with furniture fit for the '50s — was designed to sell the home. But she had another goal: to attract new clients.

These days, with the number of homes on the market outnumbering prospective buyers, agents need every customer they can get. Open houses are one way for agents to strut their stuff for prospective buyers, at least for agents such as Basi, who said she has only sold one home with an open house in her 10 years in the business.

"But an advantage of holding an open house is meeting new clients," she said.

Still, open houses aren't as common as they used to be,perhaps because of the number of bank-owned homes on the market.

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