Vacant homes often don’t appeal to buyers. So, these days, some real estate companies are suggesting house-sitters to help keep the home maintained and give it a lived-in feel.

The house-sitting strategy is being used with foreclosed homes and involves allowing people to live in the property for little rent (some as low as $400 per month) in exchange for house-sitting the residence. Typically, the house-sitters or caretakers are responsible for keeping up the home, paying for utilities, and any homeowners’ association fees. They aren’t usually offered a lease term and they’re required to move out with as little as five days’ notice if the home sells. “It’s not for everyone and nothing in life is free,” said home caretaker, Rose Duran in the ABC report. She is able to live in a 2,000 square foot house at least until it sells. Duran calls it a win-win situation for people seeking less expensive rent and for owners of vacant properties.

ABC News reports that the concept was introduced in this economy because foreclosed homes are at risk of vandalism. “Obviously, when there is nobody living in them, the whole neighborhood could lose value,” said Christine Lohkamp of Homes in Transition, a company based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Some details about the house-sitting strategy. You might be wondering how much of a difference can having a house-sitter make.

Homes in Transition says that homes can sell for 20 percent more and 30 percent faster. The service costs nothing for the homeowner and is actually designed to alleviate many of the costs that are associated with maintaining a vacant property because they are paid for by the resident property house-sitter.

However, with Homes in Transition you, the homeowner of a vacant property, won’t collect a fee. The company writes on its website, “Homes in Transition collects a small fee from our Caretakers each month which allows us to ensure the care, maintenance and showability for your home during the term of our Caretaker’s occupancy and its eventual return to you ready for closing.” The company also advises doing any necessary repairs before the house-sitter moves in so that the home is in the condition that you would like to have it maintained. House-sitters are not allowed to bring pets or smoke in the home.

What are house-sitters responsible for? Exact details vary depending on the agreements between the homeowner and house-sitter or company that’s helping fill the residence, but generally you can expect house-sitters to perform a variety of household tasks. Basically the tasks are things that most homeowners either do or hire someone to do for them, such as, cleaning furnace filters, fixing dripping faucets or toilets, changing light bulbs, removing their own accumulated trash, as well as helping to care for the yard.

Some companies such as Homes in Transition offer the house-sitter the option of paying into a monthly maintenance service program so that when household problems occur, the general contractor associated with the company can fix them. The service program follows the house-sitter. So, when relocation occurs the services are then transferred to the next property the house-sitter moves into.

The interim house-sitter strategy is promoted as a way to alleviate the concerns that often accompany having a home sit vacant for long periods of time. For more details visit: homesintransition.com.

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