Once you put the 'For Sale' sign in the front yard, you may have just posted an invitation for squatters and burglars. Local realtors are fed up with the crime targeting their properties and they're taking up an old tactic again – they're hiring house sitters.
- Vacant homes for sale, an easy target for crime. But some local realtors, well, they are fed up. They're taking a new tactic, hiring house sitters to stop the burglars and squatters from breaking in.
- CBS13's Marlee Ginter joins us, now, with exactly how it works. Marlee?
MARLEE GINTER: Elizabeth and Curtis, I talked to some realtors, today, who say that they're hiring them more and more. And this real estate market that's so hot right now, they're pressed to be everywhere at once. So this was a last ditch effort to have some extra security.
SAMANTHA TOV: This one, definitely, will need to get a house sitter.
MARLEE GINTER: Samantha Tov sees the desperate and ugly.
SAMANTHA TOV: Looks like they probably punched a hole in the wall there.
MARLEE GINTER: A listing agent with portfolio real estate, she's seen an uptick in people breaking into homes as she's trying to sell.
SAMANTHA TOV: And it really shocked me that they got broken into two times, three times. And then that's when we hired the house sitter.
MARLEE GINTER: Tov got so fed up with chasing out squatters and filing police reports on burglaries.
SAMANTHA TOV: Newer appliances will get stolen. They remove the door, go through the garage.
MARLEE GINTER: She's now hiring people to live in the vacant homes on the market, house sitters, to deter people from breaking in.
SAMANTHA TOV: The house sitter is usually a single person that doesn't really have a house. And he lives in a backpack. He has one of those makeshift hammocks.
JONATHAN LEE: It's rough for buyers, right, because when they see a house, do you want to make sure the neighborhood is good, make sure the house is in good condition. And when they see that type of stuff, they could get scared.
MARLEE GINTER: Realtor Jonathan Lee says it's kept him busy in a market that's already hot with back to back showings. He's now dealing with break ins in between.
JONATHAN LEE: The frustration that we're having is that we do have to hire house sitters. That's usually a pretty long service, right, because escrows usually take about 20 to 30 days.
MARLEE GINTER: It all comes at a cost from the pricey locks they're breaking that run $120 each to all the damage and now the cost of hiring a sitter.
SAMANTHA TOV: We have the sellers pay for it. And it's not just a house sitter that we're paying. We actually have to buy them food and water. So in the morning, you drop off breakfast and lunch for them.
- So on the flip side, it doesn't sound like a bad gig at all. House sitters make about $75 a day just living out of their backpack, moving from house to house, but not paying any rent. Simply being the eyes and ears for realtors.