There's something about that "Open House" sign that acts like a magnet. Whether you're looking for a new place to live, keeping tabs on real estate in your neighborhood, or just angling for a sneak peek at someone else's private domain, the lure of an open door is powerful.
This week, we look at open houses in some of the most improved markets of 2011. Using listing price data from Realtor.com, we found some of the hottest open houses in places with the biggest year-over-year bump in asking price. So wipe your feet at the door, and take a tour of some of the best open house deals of the week.
Open Houses for Oct. 15-16
Fort Meyers, Fla.
Median Asking Price: Up 34.46%
Open house: Sunday, Oct. 16 Location: 14551 Eagle Ridge Drive Price: $324,800 Property details: It's palm trees and putting greens as far as the eye can see. Take a stroll through this golf community on Sunday, or click through photos of the four-bedroom home in the listing below.
Open house: Sunday, Oct. 16 Location: 15926 Cascade Bluff Court Price: $580,000 Property details: The interior of this four-bedroom, four-bath custom home is loaded with high-end amenities and features. Hardwood floors, new appliances and a spacious and airy floor plan make this a perfect move-in ready candidate.
Open house: Sunday, Oct. 16 Location: 4705 E. 49th St. Price: $384,900 Property details: Grab your slice of Americana in this Boise City ranch-style home. Tour the house, including a photo of the lazy-Sunday patio area, in the listing photos below.
Open house: Sunday, Oct. 16 Location: 1713 Bent Oak Drive Price: $229,000 Property details: Asking prices in the area may be up nearly 10 percent, but this comely four-bedroom recently had its price reduced. D'oh! Bargain hunters should explore the listing below.
Open house: Sunday, Oct. 9 Location: 5734 Stone Lake Drive Price: $624,900 Property description: Like what you see? Then you'll love the picturesque view of the lake from any of the home's extra-wide windows. This 8,000-plus-square-foot home is part of a gated community with all the amenities a new homeowner could desire. Click the listing for the full nine.
Open House: Sunday, Oct. 16 Location: 4818 Foxhall Crescent NW Price: $2,340,000 Property description: This brand new, Georgian-style custom home includes a gourmet kitchen, a grand two-story foyer, four fireplaces and five bedrooms. If that's not enough, the 6,225-square-home is located in the well-to-do neighborhood of Battery Kembel Place.
Open house: Sunday, Oct. 16 Location: 726 Ulili St. Price: $3,600,000 Property description: Here's a real humdinger if we've ever seen one. This East Asian-inspired dream house is open for tours to the public this Sunday. The downside: airfare to Hawaii costs an arm and a leg. Instead, take a virtual tour of this over 4,000-square-foot mansion from the comforts of wherever you call home.
Location: Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.
Sq. Ft.: 16,500
So you've got the 13-seat movie theater, underground path with stone walls and sconces, hand-carved walnut furniture, game room, Roman spa with mosaic walls, Italian stone fountains, tennis court, 10-car garage and -- drumroll -- dog-grooming station. Yeah, that all comes with this jaw-dropper. But a two-lane bowling alley? That's just rad.
So you can sunbathe and not get sunburned at home. If you get tired of soaking in ultraviolet-free rays, you've also got a bowling alley and tennis court at your disposal. And lots of vintage wine in the wine cellar.
No room for swimming laps in this puppy. But that's not what it's about: You've got the billiards table, bowling alley and tennis court for exercise. (OK, maybe it's a stretch to consider billiards a form of exercise.)
We're not quite sure why this house is called "Tabula Rasa" -- the epistemological theory that humans are born as blank slates without any built-in mental content. One interpretation: The original owner feels he willed this mega-mansion into existence. It boasts its own private indoor basketball court and two-lane bowling alley.
Touted as "Buckhead's finest estate," this Southern mansion sits on three private acres and boasts a picture-perfect pool and hot tub in the back. But what really caught our eye was the home's golf simulator.
For those elusive roller-hockey aficionados: Odds are, during the games here, checking is a big no-no; you nail someone into the boards in this arena, and they've got a good chance of tumbling over them.
Location: Castle Rock, Colo.
Price: $3.999 million
Sq. Ft.: 10,668
Stretching 73 acres, this estate delivers a whole lot of real estate and clearly had an owner at some point who adores our national pastime. In addition to a baseball diamond and indoor batting range, the mansion offers a stunning backyard pool and seven-car garage.
Location: Incline Village, Nev.
Price: $49.9 million
Sq. Ft.: 2,368
For some tycoons there may come a time when collecting cars gets old. If that happens, they should buy this compound. It has a garage that is so big that you can store nine buses in it. The residence spans five parcels that can be purchased individually. They contain the Main House, Lake House and Carriage House (which houses the garage).