Some (not this one!) real estate agents say that, thanks to the Web, open houses are no longer necessary. Our columnist explains that in boom or bust times, this is one selling tool that won’t go out of style.

Question: I am about to put my four-bedroom home on the market for $475,000, with a 90-day listing. The agent says she will hold one open house for the general public. She says we don’t need any more because open houses don’t sell homes. Is she right?
—-Ocean City, N.J.

Answer: Heck no, though her opinion is certainly shared by many real estate agents who would rather do anything else on their weekends than babysit a house. I can personally attest to their effectiveness, and not just in boom times: In 1987, while stocks were collapsing and recession was on the horizon, the first real estate agent I ever used sold the first home I ever owned to a buyer who drove by, saw the open-house yard sign, wandered around for a while and made a full-price offer on the spot.

By June Fletcher, July 3, 2009 WSJ

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