NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Imagine living in a luxurious estate with no lease, no mortgage and paying almost nothing.
As CBS 2’s Alice Gainer reported, more and more people are doing it. But of course, there’s a catch.
For now, a beautiful home in Connecticut is where Tom Sullivan calls home — but he doesn’t own it. Now it’s in contract for sale and he needs to move.
“I’ve moved six times in seven years,” he said.
He found an empty house on the market for $5 million. But he has no plans to buy that house either.
So why is he always moving into multimillion dollar homes?
It’s part of an arrangement where Sullivan brings his own furniture and accessories into homes that are for sale, staging them to impress potential buyers. In exchange, he gets to live there, often for little or no money. Sometimes he’s even paid to stay in the pristine homes.
“There has to be some sort of recognition for the cost that I incur doing the moving,” Sullivan said.
“Tom likes to live the good life so when he decorates and manages a house, he leaves subtle clues to upscale living,” realtor Denise Walsh with William Raveis Real Estate said.
Walsh said it’s the human presence that often helps close the deal.
“The music is on, the lights are dimmed, the champagne is on ice — I mean, you want to move in that day,” she said.
In fact, the house Sullivan was staying in was sold just three months after he moved in.
“It’s the attention to detail that you get when you are actually living in the house,” Sullivan said.
This type of house managing is big business across the country.
The Webbs are professional “Mansion Minders” who live large for just a fraction of the cost of owning or renting a high-end home.
The catch in all instances is that the place must be kept spotlessly clean and ready to show at any time, Gainer reported.
“Sure, we’re ready at a moment’s notice to walk out,” Mrs. Webb said.
Brenda Platt, president of Mansion Minders, said a house that sits empty doesn’t show well and has a “desperate, empty-cellar feel to it.”
Even after moving more than 20 times, the Webbs are into their short stays for the long haul. Sullivan is, too.
“It’s a very lucrative, rewarding part-time jobm and it’s only difficult during that transition period; the rest of the time it’s easy,” he said.
Experts add the arrangement can be a win for everyone; owners have their property protected, realtors get that human touch and the house managers save money while they live in the extraordinary homes.
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