New Website Aims to Turn Vacant Houses Into Model Homes to Relieve The Impact on Surrounding Neighborhoods

March 31, 2009 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
(Boca Raton, Florida, USA) A concerned citizen recently launched an innovative Web site - to help reduce the adverse impact that vacant homes for sale have on surrounding neighborhoods. addresses the nationwide epidemic of vacant houses on a grand scale, but applies its unique solution one house and one neighborhood at a time. The site serves as an interactive one-stop destination that links individuals who own vacant homes or the banks who own foreclosed homes with on-site home managers. These live-in property managers stage the vacant house while it's for sale, agree to maintain it in model condition, pay the utility bills, and pay a fee that could partly offset the carrying costs. The site even allows the homeowner to see photos of the prospective managers furniture and read about them to help choose the right home manager for the house.

In exchange for their services the home managers enjoy the benefit of reduced-price houses for rent at a time when millions are looking for ways to reduce monthly expenses.

The concept is not new. For decades so-called "home managers" or "live in home stagers" have been used to help sell vacant houses. The idea has been written up in Money magazine, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and a host of other publications. A segment on this subject recently aired on Good Morning America. Most real estate professionals agree that an occupied home has greater emotional appeal and charm than an empty one, and usually sells more quickly and commands a higher price.

But up until now with the launch of there has been no nationwide, online service that acts as a central resource for putting owners and live-in stagers or managers together.

Everyone agrees that vacant and foreclosed homes are not just bad for their owners. They're bad for everyone else in the neighborhood too, because they create an eyesore and a temptation for thieves and vandals. They could also lower the value of the surrounding homes. The US Census Bureau estimates that there were 2.3 million vacant houses on the market at the end of 2008, but that number is growing as the economy continues to deteriorate.

"Having the vacant house occupied by a live-in stager can solve many problems," explains Valerie Szymaniak, who created out of her concern for this growing problem. "The houses are furnished and kept clean, the yard and pool are maintained, and vandals are deterred. The homeowner's insurance premiums may even go down and the live-in stager will pay the utilities as well as a nominal fee to live there."

The purpose of the service is not to transform these vacant houses into income-producing investments, but to provide a combination of modest rent payments and fee-free maintenance and home staging while the house is being marketed for sale. Live-in managers agree to be ready to vacate on short notice when a buyer is found, and many then move on to become house sitters and stagers elsewhere. To celebrate the initial launch of the site, all listings will be free through April 30th 2009.

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