* Caretakers of America, a national firm that provides house sitters for vacant properties while they are being sold, recently opened an office at 3060 Mitchellville Road in Bowie. The franchise will serve southern Pennsylvania and all of Maryland except Montgomery County.
Caretakers interviews and checks the background and employment of prospective home sitters before they can join the program. Once accepted, caretakers sign a contract agreeing to pay for minor repairs, homeowner association fees, trash collection and utilities. They also must be willing to move with a minimum of 10 days' written notice.
Caretakers pay a monthly fee that is less than a mortgage payment or rent. Daniel R. Dodd, owner of the Bowie office, said, "In this area, sitters in a house on the market for $200,000 would pay $450 a month, plus utilities. For homes in the $700,000 to $1.5 million range, the fee is $1,000. We expect them to live in a house for an average of six months."
"With our service, homeowners don't have to worry about a vacant house attracting vandals, Realtors get a listing that is in 'show-to-sell' condition seven days a week and house sitters live in a beautiful home at a fraction of what it would rent for."
Each house sitter maintains a smoke-free house and carries a $300,000 liability insurance policy. Caretakers of America also carries $1 million in contractual liability insurance.
The Bowie office placed house sitters in New Market, Hunt Valley in Baltimore County and York, Pa., as the result of Caretakers' national contract with Prudential Preferred Properties' Relocation program.
Caretakers of America was founded in 1985 in Denver by Randy Bridge, its current chief executive officer, and Jan Brown, its president. Offices are in Arizona, California,
Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.
The number for the Bowie office is (800) 914-0050.
Pa. homebuilder cited by magazine
* Toll Brothers Inc. of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., has been named the 15th-largest homebuilder in the United States by Professional Builder, a trade magazine that ranks the top 400 in the industry based on revenues. The company placed 89th in 1992 and 25th last year.
Toll Brothers is currently building homes in Gaithersburg, Montgomery Village and Rockville in Montgomery. In addition to Maryland, the company operates in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, North Carolina and California.
NEWS IN BRIEF
* American Properties Inc.'s New Home Marketing Group has been selected to handle sales at Autumn Fields and Autumn View in Howard County.
* Harkin Builders Inc., of Silver Spring has received the "Outstanding Project Award for Overall Quality and Excellence in Craftsmanship, Project Management and Budgetary Control" from the Baltimore Metropolitan Chapter of Associated Builders & Contractors Inc. for St. Luke Place Apartments in Edgemere.
* Long & Foster Real Estate Inc. has named Mark Leone 1993 Top Producer in its Ellicott City office with $4 million in home sales.
* Long & Foster Real Estate Inc. said Eleanor B. Dicks and Linda Laskin Beer of its Bethesda/Hampden Square office have received the Graduate Realtors Institute designation from the Washington Association of Realtors.
* The National Association of Home Builders' National Council of the Multifamily Housing Industry named Shirley Robertson as Registered Apartment Manager of the Year. Ms. Robertson is director of training and professional development at Southern Management Corp. of Silver Spring, which manages more than 20,000 apartments in 54 communities in the Washington area.
* The National Association of Master Appraisers is offering homebuyers a free copy of its 1994 membership directory. To obtain a copy, write to Directory Offer, P.O. Box 12617, San vTC Antonio, Texas 78212-0617 or call (800) 229-6262.
* Norwest Mortgage said the 18 members of its Rockville office won an all-expenses-paid three-day Caribbean cruise for attaining a 95 percent customer satisfaction rate in 1993. The Norwest "Service Stars" Conference consisted of the top 2 percent of employees from the 630 offices of the firm, which is headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa.
* O'Conor, Piper & Flynn, Realtors expanded its presence at the beach when it merged with Vernon Real Estate Ltd. of Rehoboth Beach, Del. William Vernon will continue as broker/manager of the Rehoboth office. O'Conor has eight offices in the Ocean City area.
ON THE MOVE
* The Humphrey Companies, a Silver Spring-based development, construction and management company, said Lindsay Birch has joined the firm as director of sales and %J marketing at Stone Valley of Avondale, a 72-unit townhouse community in Westminster.
* James Madison Mortgage Company said John Moorhead has joined the firm as a loan officer and its Annapolis office.
* Long & Foster Real Estate Inc. said Adriane Beane has joined the firm as a sales associate in the Bethesda/Hampden Square office.
* Prudential Preferred Properties said Jim Burman has joined the firm's Harford County office as a salesperson. A county resident for 17 years, Mr. Burman serves on the education/orientation committee and the fair housing task force of the Harford County Association of Realtors.
If you have company news, we would like to hear about it.
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