Selling a house? Consider live-in manager

Most likely you have heard of "home staging," where a professional comes into the home for sale and puts furniture and accessories in just the right places to make the home look better. Well, now home staging comes with a live-in tenant who might help speed up the sale.

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Home Manager Thomas Scott is right at home in a gorgeous million-dollar mansion. He sold his own house and wanted to hold off on buying another.

"This is a great way to wait the market out," said Scott. So he's now a house-sitter of sorts.

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

He works for a company that's helping "stage" the home to try to sell it more quickly. Staging usually means adding furniture, but now it can mean bringing in a full-time tenant, too. Rodney Davis owns a home and hopes the live-in helps him get a sale soon.

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

Surveys among realtors show empty homes tell buyers the seller is desperate, and offers that do come in are traditionally low.

But with the "lived-in" look ... "Almost two-thirds of realtors believed that the show home, fully staged, would sell for at least a 10 percent higher price," said Bert Lyles, Showhomes chairman and chief executive officer.

The trend of using home managers is growing nationwide. It happens most often with higher priced homes, but is catching on across the board with homes in all price ranges.

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

The house-sitter pays a percentage of the mortgage, typically 25 to 50 percent to help cover costs. A good company screens its sitters carefully, checking criminal history. Smokers and pet owners are out. Tom loves the "job," even though there's no telling how long he'll live in any one home.

"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," said Scott.

Once the home does close, the staging company gets a percentage of the sale.

Coming up on Saturday, June 28, at 6:30 p.m. Ric Romero will bring you a ABC7 On Your Side half-hour special. It is all about the ABCs of the Housing Market: Where it's going; How to avoid foreclosure; What the government is doing to help.


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