I Lived in a Home That Had a ‘For Sale’ Sign Outside
Some sellers will let you live in their house for free to make it look occupied, but living in a house that's for sale can be stressful at times. It feels like waking up every morning, ready to be evicted.
Looking for cheap housing? I have a story that might get your creative juices flowing…
The house had been sitting empty for years. He had bought it for his mother, but unfortunately, her Alzheimer’s quickly worsened and prevented her from moving in. A house that sits empty isn’t great for the home or for its potential sale, that’s for sure. So my former employer invited me to live there – mainly just to get someone in the house.
Life in a House For Sale
He wanted to sell the house soon, but he didn’t know exactly when. So I lived there for a few years before we got it ready to sell. We found an agent and repainted most of the rooms – nothing major. The agent came over to make sure that the place looked alright before showing clients.
You could tell he was a little nervous when he found out I was a 22-year-old man living there alone.
To his relief, there were no beer pong tables, no posters of half-naked women, and no crazy parties rocking the house each night. I keep things classy.
The agent really liked me, actually. I had enough stuff for the house to look lived-in but uncluttered. And I was busy enough that I was rarely home, so he could do showings with relative ease. But at the same time, my work hours were flexible enough that I could be home if he wanted me to be his assistant.
I was pretty good at answering questions that the potential buyers had. What can I say? I have a thing for residential real estate. Besides, I knew the house well and loved the neighborhood. During one of the showings I helped out with, we met the future owner.
The Downsides to Living In A For-Sale House
But there are many cons to showing an empty house. It often leaves the cosmetic flaws of each room apparent.
It’s also hard for a potential buyer to envision him or herself in an empty home.
That’s why model homes are staged. By most measures, it was best to have me living there. But what did it feel like for me? What was it like living in a house that could sell at any time?
I was living there for free, so the inconveniences were tolerable for such cheap housing, but there were quite a few of them. Take it from me, you may want to consider a few things before living in a home that’s for sale.
First, the agent may call at any time wanting you to either be there or not be there for a showing.
Agents are usually pretty aggressive, so they may call you at 9 a.m. telling you to scram by 10 a.m.
I spent several showings just riding around the block on my bike, circling around to get a look at the potential buyers and their vehicle. Summing them up. Assessing how good they would look in the house.
It’s also odd knowing that most home sales have a 30-day close. That meant that when the sale came, I’d have to be in a new place in 30 days. While that may not be a huge deal for most people, I’m picky about where I live. It would be hard to find anything that was anywhere near as good a situation that one when it came to cheap housing.
At the time, it needed to be close to work so I could bike, and I wanted a good deal. Ample time is the best way of getting what you want when shopping (for real estate or anything else). I would have very little time.
The touch-and-go nature of it all was a little anxiety-inducing. I often didn’t want to buy things because I knew I might be moving out within 30 days.
But then, if the house didn’t sell, I’d have put those purchases on hold for no reason. It’s a very odd way to live, especially for people like me, who tend to enjoy stability.
Still, the overall experience was great for me. It was easy, cheap housing; I got to learn how the home sale process works; and I was able to write this article. All the same, I would not recommend that anyone rent a house that’s for sale or that will soon be for sale – too many opportunities for anxiety.
If you own the home, virtually every large real estate website you can find says that it’s better to sell a home that’s occupied, rather than one that’s empty.
If you can’t live there, find someone else to do it. A recent college grad will do. But I’m done with that. Don’t ask me to do it again.