Can a house-sitter get homes sold faster?


That's what a new company called Homes in Transition says. The Albuquerque-based company finds "house sitters" to live in empty homes in foreclosure, in exchange for keeping them maintained and paying utilities and rent. The idea is to give a house on the market a well-kept and lived-in feel, and not make it look like just another one out of every nine U.S. homes sitting vacant.

That lowers the risk of break-ins and keeps property values stable for everyone else living on the block. Homes in Transition told ABC News that homes with sitters can sell for 20% more, and 30% faster. (Thanks, Liza Boyd)

It seems like a good idea for renters needing an inexpensive, short-term place to stay....although in today's housing market, they could look forward to settling in for a while. One house sitter for Homes in Transition got to live in a 2,200-square-foot luxury home for approximately $400 per month. The downside is that the homes aren't furnished, no lease term is offered and house sitters must move out with as little as five days' notice if the home sells.

Homes in Transition charges nothing for the homeowner. This idea could work for realtors trying to sell staged homes for sale, even in affluent areas. As the New York Times reported today, the posh Bay Area neighborhood of Piedmont is seeing burglary rates rise as thieves hit for-sale homes sitting empty. Many deluxe homes in Piedmont offer views of San Francisco Bay, so hey, for $400 in rent, I'll gladly volunteer to house-sit there.