Showhomes Home Staging: Vacant Houses for Sale Are an Insurance Hand Grenade

Live-in Home Managers solve messy vacant home insurance problems

Aug 31, 2010, 08:00 ET from Showhomes Home Staging

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Aug. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- There is an extreme -- and often hidden -- risk for homeowners and banks trying to sell vacant houses in today's market:

Vacant houses for sale are often uninsurable, leaving the property owner substantially at risk.

Most insurance companies refuse to insure vacant homes, leaving homeowners with few options for coverage. Major carriers cancel policies on vacant homes after 30 or 60 days, often without warning, leaving the home uninsured. Some companies underwrite vacant home policies which don't offer full coverage and cost up to 400% more than a traditional homeowner's policy.

"When a home is vacant it's like holding a hand grenade," said Chester Butler, past President of the Professional Insurance Adjusters of Tennessee and board member of the AIMS Society, a national trade association for insurance professionals. "Theft, vandalism, fires and water damage are much more likely. The damage is also likely to be worse when a home is empty because there's no one around to report it or stop it."

Showhomes Home Staging, a nationally franchised network of home stagers, has a tidy solution to messy vacant home insurance problems. Showhomes uses live-in Home Managers that help stage the home, keep it prepped for Realtor showings and act as an onsite caretaker. Because they occupy the home, homeowners qualify for steeply reduced homeowners insurance with far better coverage than vacant home policies. The live-in Home Managers have the added benefit of helping homes sell faster and for higher prices.

Butler doesn't recommend vacant home policies, calling them a "buyers beware" product but does recommend using Showhomes to stage a vacant home with a live-in Home Manager. 

"Showhomes is ahead of the curve," Butler said. "Using a live-in Home Manager is really a great solution when a homeowner has to vacate a home before it sells. They get all the benefit of home staging coupled with the steeply reduced cost to insure their home and far better coverage. It's a no-brainer."

"Selling a vacant home is tough – they take much longer to sell and sell at far lower prices than staged and occupied homes," said Bert Lyles, Showhomes CEO. "Staging is essential and when you add in the serious issues home owners face with gaps in insurance, using a live-in Home Manager makes the most sense."

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