Now that we are entering the holiday season, many homebuyers may be tempted to hold off on their residential search until after the New Year. However, there are advantages to purchasing a home in what we call the “off season”—one of them being less competition. On Saturday and Sunday, November 16-17, 2013, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage  invites all buyers to take advantage of the season with the Open House Extravaganza. Hundreds of agents across Southern California—including the Greater Los Angeles area, Orange County and the Desert—will be hosting special open houses during the weekend.

“Coldwell Banker believes in the power of the open house to connect buyers to agents,” said Jeff Culbertson, executive vice president of the Southwest and Sacramento Region, NRT LLC. “With over 10 offices in Orange County and 3,100 offices worldwide, we help homebuyers reach their dreams everyday, whether it’s simply answering questions about the local housing market or providing insight into the benefits of homeownership. No other company sells more homes than Coldwell Banker.”

In Orange County, the Smith Group will be hosting at least four open houses throughout Newport Beach and Laguna Beach on November 16-17. Tim Smith, one of Coldwell Banker’s top producing sales associates,  calls an open house a “crossroads of opportunity to sell a home.” He has been using the open house to successfully market his properties for 12 years.

“Open houses often attract neighbors and people in the community, and not all of them are ‘real buyers,’ but all it takes is one,” said Smith. “That is why it is so important to be prepared as an agent. You need to know the sales activity in that neighborhood and know the people who are buying and selling in that neighborhood.”

Open houses are even useful when marketing luxury homes to an affluent audience. Noted Smith: “They’ve already decided where they want to live. The way they identify desirable properties is by driving around and going to open houses.”

Smith also disputes the notion that the holiday season is slower for real estate, saying his last two Decembers “have been our biggest month.”

“We’re in an area where the affluent vacation and have interest in investing year-round,” he said. “I also believe actions speak louder than words. If we’re out there holding open houses during the holidays, sellers know that we are committed. Plus, with low interest rates and the market on an upward trajectory, right now is a great time to buy!”

A littler further inland in the Coachella Valley, Geri Downs of the Steve and Geri Downs Real Estate team is having a whopping 23 open houses over the Nov. 16-17 weekend. After more than 12 years in the real estate business, Downs says the open house is “huge” for a resort destination like Rancho Mirage.

“I’d say 60% of my clients come from the Southern California coastal regions and they have the means and desire to own a second or third home in the desert,” she said. “So they come here on the weekend and spend time in the golf course communities, and call me because they know they can see a lot of open houses in one weekend.”

The desert real estate market is just starting to heat up too—since it is peak season from November through April.

“I think it’s a great time to buy right now,” added Downs. “Prices have stabilized here. In fact, the market is up 6% year-over-year, which is healthy. Prices will start going up, especially due to our low inventory right now.”

In Santa Barbara, sales associate Chris Palme will be hosting an open house for a $2,149,000 Spanish style residence at 1011 Rinconada.

“While I utilize many tools in marketing my listings, there is no substitute for allowing other agents and potential buyers to see and experience the property in person at an open house,” said the 25-year real estate veteran. “I have learned over the years that a successful open house is not necessarily based on the number of people who show up. I would much rather have a small number of serious buyers attend, which is what tends to happen this time of year.”

While Palme acknowledges that business typically slows down during the last two months of the year, that is not the case for him in Santa Barbara—one of the most desirable coastal settings in the world. “This is the time when the serious buyers and sellers are actively in the marketplace,” he said.

Another top Coldwell Banker sales associate in Venice, Alice Plato, will be hosting an open house of her own at 705 Broadway on Sunday, Nov. 17.

“I’ve found that real buyers with real interest are out in droves on the weekends,” said Plato. “Most buyers lead busy lives and open houses offer them an opportunity to look at many options efficiently on the weekend. This is true for all properties, from high-end to architectural properties and entry-level condos. The best reason for me to hold open houses is that I get to meet real buyers face to face. If you’re looking during this time of year, think of an open house as a pre-holiday party at some of the best houses in town!”

Like Palme, Plato agrees that right now is a great time to buy: “Interest rates are historically low and there is less competition because other buyers incorrectly assume they should wait to buy until after the holidays. There are more motivated sellers at this time of year too.” And she adds, “the market appears to be heading for an upswing in the New Year.”

Let Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Greater Los Angeles welcome you “home” before 2013 comes to a close. All interested buyers are encouraged to head over to to find an open house in their price range and area of interest today.