There was a time in the town when the towns people who had chosen real estate as their profession held houses open, for the public to see. The sales people, with their logos emblazoned on their car doors or at least on the back window of their SUVs, made a plan on most of the Saturdays and some of the Sundays to stick signs in the yards of the homes that they were trying to sell in hopes that passersby would stop, see the home, like the home, then buy the home. This was the intent of the open. There were drinks at these opens, sometimes food, certainly brochures, and the agent with the car and the stickery adornment. At first, the open houses were few, seldom even, as agents fit them in when they could, to appease their sellers who demanded they do something. Who demanded they do anything.
When these open houses were new to the town, the town paid them no mind. Who would want to see the Johnson’s living room, they wondered. And so they went about their weekend business, ignoring the once-in-a-while-open-houses, in fact, viewing them as annoyances. Some people from neighboring cities would come to town on those open days, and they would drive poorly and without knowledge of which streets were one way and which were both ways, without awareness of school zones. They would turn left when they should have only turned right, and when they did turn right they would do so on red, which everyone who was from the town knew was something that only people from the other town would do. The open houses, though despised by the local population, were increasingly popular amongst the be-dazzled Realtors, because they knew they could find people who didn’t know the town, people who didn’t know one Realtor from the other. They knew they were on to something.
After a season or two of these opens, the towns people began to venture out, because the Johnson’s living room had been the buzz at church last Sunday, and why should the tour only be for those from other towns? So they started to make a practice of visiting these houses, when they were open. Saturday morning was for soccer, or baseball, but mostly, soccer. Then, lunch. Sometimes only ice cream. After ice cream, it was open house time, and such a great flood of traffic would arrive at the doors of those agents who parked their tattooed cars in the driveways of those houses. After some outcry, there was a demand that the after soccer ice cream be skipped, and that the Realtors, in exchange for being visited by so many potential clients, should provide lunch and desserts, drinks, too. So the Realtors engaged companies to bring food over, small food for napkin eating. Desserts, sure, but those were just homemade bars with nuts and raisins. The next Sunday, everyone talked about how the house with the raisin bars would not be visited again unless the dessert was changed.
The Realtors, awash in new people who purported to be clients and buried deep in catering bills, decided that it was time to ask visitors to bring a dish to pass, something savory for those whose last name started with any letter between A and M, and something sweet from those who had any other last name that started with another one of those later letters. The towns people grumbled at first, thinking that the open house was merely a chance to accumulate decorating ideas from their neighbors, and to ooh and aah at the splendor of the Miller’s dining room chandelier. But slowly the dish-to-pass idea caught on, and the Saturday pot-luck was a raging town success. Mrs. Huffaker brought her potatoes, and Mrs. Wilderman brought her famous deviled eggs. At church on Sunday, it was decided that the best open house of the weekend was the one at the Sterling house, because they had both the potatoes and the eggs, and the Realtor was there but he wasn’t all “you should buy this”. How best to eat and drink and view the incredible pool table room of the Farrel’s if not without the constant badgering from the host Realtor?
Everyone decided that it would be best if the Realtors were no longer involved in these open houses. The brochures, the name-tags, the cars-with-websites; it was all too much. But the Realtors persisted, and though the people wished them to just leave the houses open and return to the house when the food had run out, the Realtors stayed. Sunday, it was agreed that the Realtors must be selfish, certainly a very un-Christian characteristic, and that they should be chastised by the minister. The minister, having heard the complaints, sided with the townspeople. The Realtors were greedy, and this sin would not be tolerated. The next weekend, there were open houses. The food was plentiful, the drinks flowed, and the homes, without the annoyance of the Realtor and the brochures, was much easier to wander through.
The Realtors were perplexed by this development, and so they called a meeting. The restaurant parking lot was filled with stickered cars, and the waitress had no trouble calling each patron by name, on account of the name tags. The Realtors, after a season of open houses, of providing food and drink and tours and brochures, realized that the homes they had been holding open in August were the same homes they held open in May. It was decided then and there that no further open houses would be scheduled, hosted, or allowed. Open houses, they realized, didn’t help sell a house, they just helped feed the neighbors. The next Sunday at church, the minister heard complaints about how the Realtors had selfishly decided to stop holding open houses, and the minister agreed that selfishness is a sin.