A Unique Solution To The Housing Crisis

Ever see something so logical you say, "Why didn't I think of that?"

CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker reports that when real estate agent Cathy Cardenas saw so many vacant houses for sale or in foreclosure and so many people unable to afford a house in these hard times, she thought, why not put them together?

"It works out for everybody," Cardenas explains. "It's a win-win for everybody."

So, she started Designer Home Tending, now in seven cities with some of the worst foreclosure rates.

She screens people down on their luck, un- or under- employed, and places them in houses for sale by owners who've had to relocate. In Salt Lake City, Autumn Marler and her family now reside in a 4,000 square-foot house they couldn't otherwise afford.

Says Marler, "My husband lost his job recently and we lost our home for foreclosure. And basically I pay a very small amount of rent to live in a nice house and to furnish it with my things."

Cardenas says in today's cluttered market, empty houses just aren't selling well. That lived-in look has a competitive advantage.

"It looks good, smells good, feels good. It looks lived in and people like the lived in feeling," she says.

Juhli Anten and her husband Robert's home in the Hollywood Hills sat empty for more than a year after they moved to St. Louis and a new job. Last month they dropped the price and turned to home tenders.

"Psychologically it is a lot easier whey you see the things in place and then you can work out that it is someplace you want to live," Antin says.

The service is absolutely free to home sellers. The home tenders pay a nominal fee, from $500 to $1,000 a month depending on the city, plus utilities. They have to be tidy and prepared to move if the house sells.

Struggling actor Mills Allison used to live in a suburban apartment building. Now, thanks to Home Tending, he's in Anten's million-dollar house in the Hollywood Hills.

Mills says he was paying more to live in the apartment.

In two years, Cardenas has gone from a start-up to more than 500 clients, and she's found doing good is good business.

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