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Boston-area brokers and sellers still hosting a lot of open houses despite coronavirus

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Attendance has been steady in the face of the pandemic, though brokers say that could change

The exteriors of a row of close-together apartment buildings. Shutterstock

There are hundreds of open houses scheduled at homes throughout the Boston region this weekend—with at least 230 scheduled in Boston proper, according to real estate listings site Estately—despite the spread of novel coronavirus.

The schedulings reflects steady attendance at the showings, brokers say—attendance that has yet to fall, whatever any concerns about spreading what the World Health Organization on March 11 labeled a pandemic.

“Open houses were being held as usual, but with the added precautions of having hand sanitizer available and keeping windows open for fresh air,” Jason Gell, a broker with Keller Williams in Cambridge and president of the Greater Boston Association of Realtors, said over email. He surveyed members of the trade group and said most responses indicated attendance had not dropped because of novel coronavirus.

The virus remains relatively rare in Massachusetts, with 91 reported cases as of March 12, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency for the commonwealth on March 10 as it became clear that that case count is likely to rise.

Such a spread could eat into open house attendance—and the wider Boston housing market, which remains one of the most expensive in the U.S.

“Next week may be a different story,” Gell said of the attendance figures. “Unfortunately, any decline in open houses or listings is likely to make the conditions for buyers even more difficult.”