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Caring for vacant homes a Schur thing

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You’re scooting down to Arizona for the winter and hate to leave your home vacant. Or you’ve moved to a new job in Boise and know your house here will sell quicker if it’s occupied. Or you have a relative moving into assisted living — leaving their home vacant..

What’s an absentee homeowner to do? Chelan County businessman Gene Schur thinks he has the answer.

On Jan. 1, Schur opened Gene’s Home Sitting Services, a no-cost service for homeowners and real estate agents that aims to help protect and care for vacant homes in Chelan and Douglas counties.

The service matches pre-screened, responsible house sitters with homeowners to (depending on your situation) occupy a home, deter vandalism, keep it clean, pay the utilities, care for yard and pets, remove snow, promptly report needed repairs and assist real estate agents in prepping a home to show potential buyers — all free to the homeowner.

“We’ve seen this system work well in other cities,” said Schur, a former civil engineer veteran in the U.S. Air Force. “And we’re convinced this new approach will serve this area well, too.”

Here’s how it works: Schur qukalifies a corps of home sitters who’ve undergone extensive background checks (legal, financial, employment) and personal interviews.

Schur matches the sitters with vacant homes, and they take care of the place on a month-to-month basis. Sometimes that’s for one month; sometimes it’s for 10 months. The home sitter pays a reduced monthly fee — usually $500 per month — to live in the home and care for it. By contract, the home sitter must be prepared to leave on short notice (about 10 days to three weeks) if a home sells or the owners return.

The service costs the homeowner nothing, Schur emphasized. The homeowner gets free house care, the sitter gets a reduced-fee place to stay and Schur’s company gets paid (with the rent) to coordinate it all.

“It’s a win-win-win situation,” said Schur. “All parties benefit.”

Details: Gene’s Home Sitting Services. For info on becoming or finding a home sitter, call (509) 499-9028 or email Shur at