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Open houses become excuse to snoop, mooch

Blog by Art Lee | September 15th, 2010

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With housing in the doldrums the real estate market has become something of a spectator sport, especially for New Yorkers.

Almost half the people who go to open houses in the Big Apple aren’t in the market for a home at all, but instead are rummaging in their neighbors’ closets, looking for free food and picking up decorating tips, according to a new survey, the findings of which are reported in The New York Post.

Connecticut-based title-insurance company Entitle Direct spoke with some 200 people who attended open houses for homes in the city’s toniest neighborhoods — including the Upper West Side of Manhattan and Park Slope in Brooklyn — and found that some 57 percent of attendees regularly check out the homeowner’s personal belongings, including artwork, clothing and notes on the refrigerator.

They’re also there for any free food and sushi is especially popular, Entitle’s director of sales and marketing Edward Baum told the newspaper. An open house is cheaper than dinner and a movie, he said, and it’s an easy way to check out what your neighbors are up to. New Yorkers like to see how they’re doing in relation to their neighbors, he added.

“People like to know where they stand, so they’re doing the research. They also enjoy the entertainment of looking at other folks’ apartments,” Baum told the paper.

Real estate brokers tolerate the open house snoopers because they might just decide to buy, the Post said. But serious homebuyers like Julie and Parker Bagley, interviewed by the newspaper this week as they attended a West 74th Street open house, say they just get in the way.

“Some people just like to look. It’s a little weird,” Parker Bagley told the paper. “If people aren’t serious, then they shouldn’t be out looking at apartments. It’s inconvenient.”

© 2010 msnbc.com