BY Paul Maryniak, GSN Executive Editor
Norma and Andy Ramirez were full of dread at a time when they should have been brimming with excitement.
They had made a decision to sell their Chandler home and find a new one, but they were dreading the constant interruption by Realtors and prospective buyers and the need to keep the house immaculate and clutter-free.
A hotel seemed out of the question, especially given that their teenaged daughters Mia and Liana had been accustomed to a room – and bathroom – of their own.
Enter Gilbert resident Nick Calvi, the founder of a real estate brokerage called Tweener Homes, which helps sellers in the East Valley rent a fully furnished home until they can move into their new house.
“It was so smooth,” Norma recalled. “We were able to move everything out into storage. Our house was always clean and open anytime for people to come through.”
And, best of all, the girls still had their own space because the temporary home was just about the same size as the one the Ramirezes were leaving behind after 17 years.
Even better, Norma added, there was no pressure to find a place ASAP, so they could leisurely entertain offers while looking for new permanent digs.
“It was almost like we packed a suitcase for a vacation,” Norma said.
Calvi calls his service of providing fully furnished temporary quarters – complete with even dishes, kitchenware and bedding – the “match.com” for homes.
But it’s more than a dating site in that it fills a need that’s been the bane of sellers everywhere, he said.
“There are numerous vacation rental companies and websites that allow property owners the ability to rent their home as a vacation rental for short-term rental stays less than 30 days,” he explained.
“There are also plenty of options for those seeking a long-term rental with a minimum 12-month lease. “Unfortunately, those in between short- and long-term stays, no good options existed. I wanted to provide a comfortable home for ‘tweeners’ and connect them with people who own homes and do not use for personal use the whole year, thus creating a win-win situation.”
The Chandler-based business serves the entire East Valley, Scottsdale and Ahwatukee.
Though his company is fairly new, the Realtor has been thinking about the situation it addresses ever since he and his family moved to Arizona in 2008 to escape the bitter cold of Chicago.
“Six years after we moved here, we entered into a contract to build a home in Chandler and a few months after that, listed our home for sale. Within a few weeks of listing, we received an acceptable offer with a close date that would leave us with a three-to-four-month wait time until our new home would be ready. We wanted to move our belongings into storage and find a comfortable furnished home to move into.
“This is when I experienced firsthand the difficulty in finding one,” he continued. “There were plenty of short-term vacation rental sites, but the cost to rent for months at a time was exorbitant. We also saw numerous properties, mostly unfurnished, that were offered for rent with a minimum one-year lease. However, the in-between time. I thought ‘It shouldn’t be this hard.’”
Over time, Calvi found out his experience was hardly unique.
“The good majority of agents and brokers I talk to have had or know people who have been in a jam when it comes to monthly, furnished rental homes,” he said. “I want to be a resource for these agents and brokers so they can concentrate on what they do so well: provide excellent service, dedication and communication to their clients to help them sell their home for top dollar and find their new, permanent dream home.”
Then one day, the 10-year Realtor had a client who was in the same situation he was when he moved here.
“I was able to find a family who wanted to sell their home but were concerned they would sell before they had found their new dream home to move into. I knew a person who only used his Arizona home a few months in the winter season and was pleased to rent out and make money on the home while helping out this nice family. We subsequently listed and sold their home and were able to then find them their new dream home, which they are living in today.”
As easy as his service is, it wasn’t all that easy to set it up, Calvi said.
“I spent the better part of a year researching companies that offer short-term and long-term rentals,” he recalled. “I then started working with a web design company to include best practices from both. I learned I needed to obtain my broker’s license, so I enrolled in classes and obtained an Arizona real estate broker’s license. I set up a corporation and a brokerage firm (Tweener Homes) with the Arizona Department of Real Estate.”
After researching web design and marketing/branding companies across the country, Calvi picked Chandler-based Concept 2 Completion, owned by Chandler Councilman Mark Stewart and Russ Wall.
“They have been a valuable asset and will be taking on bigger roles for the business,” he said.
Though he admits, “I greatly underestimated the time, the obstacles to overcome and the money required to get this going,” Calvi is happy now. The response thus far has made it all worthwhile. I look forward to helping people during what can be one of the most stressful times in their lives. In fact, one of the first promotional items I bought was a stress reliever shaped like a house. My hope is that Tweener Homes can take some of that stress away.”
Norma Ramirez doesn’t disagree.
“I’d recommend it to anyone,” she said. “In fact, I already have.”