What is Home Tending?
Home tending is one solution to the issue of buyers who want to sell homes but find the market is not quite a seller’s market. Houses can sit empty for a while, which may raise home insurance and can steadily devalue the home. When a home is vacant, unless the current owner still lives in the area, things like basic maintenance can be neglected, and lawn or garden and pool care can seriously suffer. For this reason, many now turn to a home tending service or create a contract with someone to live in the home and keep it properly maintained until such time as it is sold.
There are a number of home tending companies beginning to turn a steady profit, as more homes stand empty for longer periods of time. These companies may do things in slightly different ways, but they essentially provide a tenant to live in the home at a far reduced price. The tenant or the service may cover the costs of insuring the home, and either one might provide furniture and maintenance. The company usually keeps the rent that the home tender pays, instead of the owner keeping it, but the owner doesn’t pay fees to the home tending service, and may have lower insurance payments because the home is not vacant.
In exchange for dramatically lower rents on large homes that are tended, the tenant has to agree by contract to be away from the home whenever it needs to be shown. Tenants also must keep the home in show quality condition at all times and may need to pay or promise to maintain things like gardens or pools. Tenants are usually also responsible for paying water, garbage, and electricity/gas fees. However, rent is much cheaper, and a tenant who doesn’t want to pay high rents might find that the small inconveniences associated with home tending are made up for in rents that are significantly below market value. Also, they sometimes get to live in beautiful homes that are show quality. Occasionally owners strike private arrangements with housesitters for even less or no rent, provided the housesitter keeps up the grounds of the home and pays for utilities.
With many homes staying on the market for longer periods of time, sellers are obviously interested in the pros and cons of a home tending service. One negative that has been noted is that buyers may be impatient about seeing homes that are still occupied. Since the late 2000s, buyers have become used to being able to see a number of homes at little notice that are not occupied. Some argue that real estate agents are more likely to pass up tended homes in favor of showing those that are completely empty and don’t require any time arrangements to see.
In contrast, some pros to home tending include its cheapness to the owner, and the fact that a home may remain in much better shape when it is occupied. A freshly cleaned home that is beautifully furnished may be more attractive ultimately to a buyer, and clearly prices will start to degrade if serious problems begin to occur in the home and it is not regularly maintained. Since there are many home tending services, it’s a good idea to investigate a few prior to determining if this service is appropriate. Look extensively at obligations of the tenants and the company, and services offered by each company prior to signing any contracts. Clearly the main intent is to keep a home beautiful so that it will sell quickly; if a company can’t guarantee keeping the home in excellent condition, look elsewhere for one that can.
People who want to become home tenders may have greater renting restrictions. Pets might not be acceptable, people may need to provide beautiful furniture for each room, and there is the disadvantage of having to leave the home anytime someone wants to see it. Additionally, home tenders may need to be prepared to move quickly when homes sell. Though they may get a job tending another home, they might have to rent a place quickly with little time to choose an ideal place to live.
I've seen unattended homes fall quickly into disrepair. Heat, humidity and cold weather can burst pipes, make all the paint peel off the walls, dust dirt grime, animals. Thieves, yard gets ruined and taken over by weeds, water leaks turn into major problems. As the old saying goes a small leak can sink a ship if left unattended.
We perform the service listed above. Unlike many companies, we actually provide the furniture ourselves as we began the tending service as an expansion of the staging services we have offered for several years.
Although we focus primarily on high end homes, we have seen success on less expensive properties as well, probably the most dramatic case being a property that went under contract within a week of us staging it and selling a month later. In that case, we didn't even have a chance to put a tender in the property. Prior to our staging the home, it hadn't had an offer in six months and was priced significantly higher than the other homes in the neighborhood.
We are compensated for our services by finding the tenders for the staged homes, who then pay us a monthly fee. This fee can range from two thirds to one third of market rent, depending on the size and price of the home.
In some cases we can assist the owner of the property by having other fees paid as well, such as landscaping, HOA fees and even fixing up items that have fallen into disrepair. Every case is unique and designed to assist the home in selling. Some of the tenders we have placed have gone above and beyond in making repairs to the properties or paying off past bills and taxes.
It is a great opportunity for a homeowner with a vacant property, who simply cannot afford the cost of staging and would also like to save money on bills while the property is on the market. The key is finding a good home tender and doing an extensive background check. Once a good fit is made, it truly can be a win-win situation. We're based in the Orlando market and have operated as far south as Ft. Lauderdale.
There are better home tending services in the treasure valley. Pick almost any of them. EHT is at the bottom of my pile.
EHT is the best at what they do, period. People fail to remember that when you sign a contract you actually have to follow it.
EHT is a joke. Don't believe me? Look them up, you'll see how many court appearances they have had to make and read all the reviews. Not too many good ones. I am a past home tender and so relieved to be out of that program. Worst experience, literally of my life.
I too have used Exquisite Home Tending and have less than a satisfactory experience. Our issues were never resolved and they have dodged any legal letters sent by my attorney as well as flat out lied to the Better Business Bureau.
The issue was never resolved with BBB but at least the complaint is there and has damaged her rating. As it should be, that's what BBB is for: to represent the reputable, honest companies and degrade those who do not offer fair business. EHT falsely represented a service to me.
In the day and age of short sale and bank owned homes and the threat of homes being robbed, stripped and taken over, it is very wise to use a home management company. Please always consider this when contimplating on leaving your home sitting vacant.
I have used EHT, Arizona for my short sale listings in the Mesa area and have been nothing but fully satisfied. They fixed and maintained the green pool that my seller couldn't afford to fix and was also out of state. Also a tree actually fell into the front yard of this listing and the hometender had landscapers out within one day to remove it. The huge headaches of short sales have become that much easier with the help of Exquisite Home Tending. Rob, Mesa, AZ
What a great article about Home Tending. Straight forward and well balanced.
As the Idaho Director for Exquisite Home Tending (EHT), I'd like to point out a few things.
Regarding your negative points; real estate agents that pass up a tended home aren't thinking of their clients' best interests. Having a professionally staged home gives the potential buyer the visualization of what can be accomplished with this beautiful home. I have never heard of this happening in my area but I suppose I can see that could happen if the agent is not motivated to find a home for their buyers.
Buyers don't need a long period of notice to view the home. The going rate is about 1 hour but I've seen much less notice given to view the home and the home showed beautifully with no complaints.
The pros FAR outweigh the cons; and of course in my opinion there are no cons.
EHT provides completely free services to the homeowner to encourage a faster sell at their full listed price. EHT takes much of the stress and worry that comes with selling a home. The landscaping and yard work maintained, *all* utilities *paid*, home kept in showing condition and well cared for. I don't know about other companies, but our tenders are required to carry a contents and liability insurance policy of $300,000 or the listed price of the home; whichever is greater.
We also help the tenders. These are the folks who enjoy living in beautiful homes but perhaps can no longer afford to maintain that lifestyle because of pay cuts, job transfers with less pay, etc. Or for folks who are saving up enough money to buy their dream home. It's a win-win! Great article! --Kelly Ford
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