Housing News

LA Mansions Offer Free Tours

If you can’t buy these homes, at least take 30 minutes to feel what’s its like to live in one.

Well it’s not only foreclosures and plunging credit scores that this recession has brought this country. Believe it or not, it has opened doors for the average American (pun intended). Recently, the Los Angles Times reported that real estate agents are allowing public open houses on properties worth $10 million or higher. That means you’ll finally get to know how Nicholas Cage spent (and overspent) his money on his now-for-sale property.

The LA Times writes, “Nearly half of recent buyers used open houses for information during their home search, according to the National Assn. of Realtors, and 15% found a home through an open house, a number that has held fairly steady since 2001. When prices were headed for the stratosphere, a certain amount of open-house upscaling could be expected. Yet now, with home-profit expectations tumbling back to Earth, the public showing has gone even more up-market.”

Open houses are a second way of promoting a property next to advertising it on print or listing on the web. In fact, real estate agents are taking advantage of the web and using a new method called Online Open House. Reuters made a full feature of this technique last April that states, “Unlike a virtual tour that typically consists of music playing over panned photos, an Online Open House consists of full-frame, full-motion, high-definition streaming video, with a live host that guides you through the home, pointing out the features and benefits along the way.

“‘An Online Open House saves Realtors and home sellers time and money by
providing a clean, inviting open house 24-hours-a-day, free from pets, messes
and complicated schedules,’ said VMLH Owner Ben Freedman. ‘It’s the next best thing to viewing a house in person.'”

In some cases, expensive mansions are shown this way but luxury homes are often restricted to private visitors and showings are scheduled by phone several days ahead. They are reserved for high-profile buyers who obviously appear to be the only type of investors who can afford such homes. But that was then and average people won’t be limited to salivating over these homes online.

Of course, these realtors are facing the risk of exposing their properties to “ordinary” people just curious of what a mansion really looks like. And no Brandy Alexanders please. Chuck Palahniuk’s homebuyer and looting sinister is one character that realtors are trying to avoid especially with these mansions. The LA Times adds that a realtor once had a terrible experience with a visitor, “Last year, Mattar held an open house for a $1.8-million home in Hollywood and discovered a woman going through the bathroom cabinets. Thinking quickly, Mattar suggested they look at the patio and ushered the woman ahead. ‘Then I locked the doors,’ she said, and pointed the way out of the yard.”

So we suggest that the best thing that curious visitors who have no intention of buying these houses can do is to promote the property to their bosses, their bosses’ friends and to high-profile investors. Or they can blog about their experience and post photos of the house if the broker allows them to.

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