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Open house weekend draws hundreds

The June 27-28 Statewide Open House was a rousing success, spurred on by a large inventory of houses, low prices and interest rates and good publicity for the event, its sponsors said.

"I was really, really impressed with the number of people participating, based upon my home. I heard very positive responses from other agents as well," said Paul McHugh of McHugh Realtors.

According to Gina Valaske at the Sequim Association of Realtors, the weekend event featured 117 open houses and attracted more than 700 potential buyers.

The statewide event provided first-time home buyers with an opportunity to view numerous homes, many at reduced prices, while the federal government's $8,000 tax credit still is available.

The Sequim open houses were part of more than 200 scheduled throughout the county.

Realtors' latest survey of home buyers showed 53 percent are first-time buyers, much higher than the 40 percent of previous years, according to Laurence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors.

Since last May, the median home price in the

Sequim area has decreased 13 percent, while the number of homes on the market has increased 18 percent.

McHugh said his open house, located downtown, attracted two to three times the visitors he normally would expect.

"Part of it was the volume of homes open," he said.

"It was easy for people to look at a broad cross section of prices and locations and styles. When that comes along, that brings out a lot of folks. I wouldn't expect that volume if it was just one or two homes."

McHugh said not all the prospective buyers were newcomers either.

Some were people who already lived in rural areas of Sequim and wanted to move into the city, he said.

"A lot of people are looking for what might work for them. Mine didn't sell, but the more competitive prices and interest rates seemed to bring people out to investigate.

"The weekend was good for potential buyers and provided more exposure for sellers of real estate," McHugh said.

The Obama administration's tax credit program for first-time buyers expires Nov. 30. It provides anyone who has not owned a home for the past three years with a 2008 or 2009 tax credit of $8,000 - or 10 percent of the home's value, whichever is less.

The buyer must live in the house for at least three years or pay back the credit. The buyer also must make less than $75,000 for singles or $150,000 for couples. (Higher-income buyers may receive a partial credit.)

The tax credit may be applied to primary residences including single-family homes, condos, townhomes and co-ops.

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