More than 30,000 Western Washington real estate agents have been warned off hosting open houses for the rest of the month to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The Northwest Multiple Listing Service, which coordinates homebuying activity in 23 Washington counties, including King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, Monday afternoon disabled features in its online home listing database that allow brokers to “input, search, or view … open house information,” according to an email sent to agents — eliminating agents’ most effective tool to find and advertise upcoming open houses. The group also removed existing open house listings.

The “decision is strongly supported the Governor’s office,” the email read. Geoff Wood, CEO of Seattle-based brokerage Windermere, previously asked Gov. Jay Inslee to add open houses to the list of events the state has banned, which include most gatherings of more than 50 people.

The stock market plunge and coronavirus pandemic have not slowed home sales activity from February’s white-hot market, brokers say, potentially posing an obstacle to officially mandated social distancing measures.

At open houses over the weekend, some brokers saw hundreds of home shoppers come through the door.

The Bellevue home at 15911 S.E. 42nd Place came on the market Friday, was shown 25 times that day, then was visited nearly 150 hopeful homebuyers over the weekend, listing agent Michael Syltebo said.


I think the only thing people are doing is looking at real estate