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AZ Housing Crisis Opens a Unique Job Market

January 24, 2012

PHOENIX – Arizona real estate developers were selling houses as fast as they could build them – until the bottom fell out of the market. Now, hundreds of new homes and condos stand empty, threatened with decay and vandalism.

What can property owners do to preserve their investment until a house is sold? Some are turning to a unique publication, Gary Dunn's Caretaker Gazette.

"We're getting more and more advertisements from real estate investors who are stuck with a home they can't sell someplace, and they just want even a trustworthy, reliable house-sitter to live in this empty home."

It's a win-win for anyone wanting a free place to live and a property owner with an unsold empty house, says Dunn, who has been publishing the Caretaker Gazette since 1983. He says Arizona is a booming job market for house-sitters, where real estate speculators can't find buyers and just want someone to watch over their investment.

"Some of our subscribers took one of these house-sitting positions in a 'spec' home a few years ago, and they're still living in, like, a brand new home. They have to keep it in nice shape for the Realtors, but still they get to live there rent-free, and this way there are no more break-ins, since they've got somebody living there."

The latest Census Bureau figures reveal that more than 16 percent, or 463,000 of the Grand Canyon State's homes are sitting vacant. That's up more than 60 percent from ten years earlier.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ