House-Sitting Takes On A New Meaning

Home Stager with Showhomes

House-Sitting Takes On A New Meaning

BOSTON (WBZ) ― Thomas Scott loves living in a million dollar home. But he's not paying the million dollar mortgage that goes along with it.

He sold his own house and wanted to wait before getting back into the market, so he's acting as a house-sitter of sorts. "This is a great way to wait the market out," he said.

Scott is what realtors are now calling "house managers." They are hired by staging companies to give empty homes a homey, lived-in look.

"It's not a lease. I'm not a tenant. I don't rent the house. I'm not a homeowner and I don't know how long I'm going to be here," he explained.

Staging usually involves adding furniture to make an empty home look more inviting. But now, it can mean bringing in a full time tenant too. The homeowner hopes having someone in the house will help it sell.

"Since the real estate market is slow, we're hoping to get more exposure," he said.

Realtors say empty homes can signal a desperate seller which can lead to low offers. Experts also agree the lived-in look really does work.

"Almost two-thirds of realtors believe that a home fully staged, would sell at least at a ten percent higher price," said Bert Lyles, CEO of Showhomes, America's largest home staging company.

These home managers used to be for the most expensive homes, but its now catching on in all price ranges.

"As low as 150,000 and prices as high as $10 million," said Lyles.

It's not a free place to live. The house-sitter does have to pay the staging company a small fee equal to a portion of the mortgage to help cover costs, but it's far cheaper than rent. A home could sell in days, or it could take a year or longer.

"I've been in a home as long as six or seven months and as short as 45 days, so it's a little adventuresome," Scott said.

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