More than one St. Cloud home sale has resulted from a couple’s chance encounter with a St. Cloud open house. It still happens that they just drop in on the spur of the moment.

“Oh look! They’re having an open house down the street!” turns into curiosity, then interest, excitement—and ultimately, a life-altering change in where they call home.

Today that still happens, but a good deal less frequently than in the past. Part of the reason is the demotion of the open house in the pecking order of St. Cloud real estate strategies. At this point, a St. Cloud open house is simply never the central element in a home’s marketing blitz. The web has seen to that. 

Let’s face it: if you can visit any listed home via its online virtual tour, the whole idea is that it requires a fraction of the time and effort an in-person visit takes. A home’s virtual tour is where you’ll head first. If you are aware of a St. Cloud open house scheduled for the weekend, chances are you may also check it out online first. If you like what you see there, you might even be tempted to call your agent or email the selling agent to schedule a private showing. Getting there ahead of the masses can give you an edge if the property draws a crowd.

If the online media (including the rapidly-expanding mobile universe) weren’t so ubiquitous, it’s a cinch we’d be seeing a whole lot more ‘Open House’ signs just driving around St. Cloud. But it’s not a completely extinct phenomenon.

For the house hunter who is just initiating the effort—anyone who suspects that a less virtual, more three-dimensional excursion is the best way to get a feel for what’s out there—look for notices in the newspaper classifieds, and even check the old-fashioned places—like grocery store bulletin boards. And Sunday is still the day you’ll find the most “Open House” signs in St. Cloud front yards—as well as their cooperative neighbors’ corner lot lawns.

Open houses can offer a leisurely weekend way to wade into this fall’s residential offerings, but for those who have advanced to a stage where a more concentrated and efficient effort is called for, there’s no substitute for the assistance of an experienced town real estate agent. And there is also no need for such a substitute—I’m right here, ready for your call!