Realtors Hire House Sitters To Deter Crime At Vacant Homes

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.

Video Transcript

- Vacant homes for sale, an easy target for crime. But some local realtors feel 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. In a 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.

- This one definitely will need to get house sitter.

MARLEE GINTER: Samantha Tov sees the desperate and ugly.

SAMANTHA TOV: They look 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 she's trying to sell.

SAMANTHA TOV: And what really shocked me that they got broken into two times, three times. And then that's when we hired a 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'll 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: And the house sitter's usually, you know, 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, they 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: Frustration that we're having is that we do have to hire house sitters. So that, you know, 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 bucks each, to all the damage. And now, the cost of hiring a sitter.

SAMANTHA TOV: So it's 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.

MARLEE GINTER: So on the flip side, it doesn't sound like a bad gig at all. House sitters make about $75 bucks 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.