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FL Housing Crisis Opens a Unique Job Market

January 30, 2012

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida 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.

"And so 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 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. Dunn has been publishing the Caretaker Gazette since 1983.

Dunn says Florida 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.

"We've had some of our subscribers take one of these house-sitting positions in a spec-home a few years ago, like a brand new home. They have to keep it in nice shape for the Realtors, but they get to live there rent-free. This way, there are no more break-ins since they have someone living there."

The Census Bureau revealed that 18 percent, or 1.6 million, of the Sunshine State's homes are sitting vacant. That's a rise of more than 63 percent during the past 10 years.

Les Coleman, Public News Service - FL