How can I make money off my empty house?
February 3, 2012 8:18 AM   Subscribe

I have an empty house just sitting there. How can I make some money off of it?

I live in Los Angeles. I bought the house to massively renovate it, but it'll be at least a couple months before we start due to plans and permitting, etc. It's in a desirable area but the house itself is an extremely bland tract house with no furniture. I've considered airbnb but I wasn't sure it's an option because the house is empty (and we'd probably have to charge a low price which might attract partiers or miscreants). A short-term rental might make sense but I just don't have time to deal with it - are there businesses that will handle everything? Any other ideas?
posted by malhouse to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Rent it out for movie shoots, photography sessions, etc.
posted by dfriedman at 8:25 AM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

You should call local realtors, explain the situation, and see if they know of rental agents who are interested. Short term, no furniture might be difficult though.

As you are in LA - a film set? - Not sure who to talk to though.
posted by carter at 8:26 AM on February 3, 2012

For 2 months, and with it unfurnished, I can't really see how you can make it work as a rental. If you have enough furniture/dishes/towels/etc on hand to at least furnish it minimally you could do vacation rentals like airbnb or VRBO, or short-term rentals via Craigslist.

Offering it as a shooting location - yeah, that's fine. You could start with the Location Managers Guild of America. Maybe they have a list of legit location reps. Because you really only want to get set up with legit agencies. You don't want to just offer it via Craigslist or whatever, 'cause the only people you'll get are porn shoots, student shoots or tiny indie films, none of which will have any money to cover you in case of damage. And as a person who has worked in the (legit) industry, let me just say that you have to be on top of things, even if a legit production is using your house. They will scratch your floors, gouge your walls, chop down a tree's branch if it's in the way of their shot, etc.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:42 AM on February 3, 2012

You could rent it out as a music rehearsal space to individual classical musicians, as long as the neighbors wouldn't complain, and it was during reasonable hours. Are there lots of hard surfaces in your home? Sometimes that's a good acoustic environment to mimick auditoriums where there are lots of hard surfaces to reverberate the sound. I'm thinking that having a violin, cello, or flute wouldnt' be disruptive, but drums or horns might be. (Not to be prejudiced against rock bands, but y'know.)

You could advertise in the music buildings of universitys if your home is in a college town.
posted by shortyJBot at 9:01 AM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Put it up on Craigslist as an empty house for rent. Add that it can be used for shoots, short term live, etc. You never know, it might be 'just the thing' for someone.
posted by Vaike at 9:07 AM on February 3, 2012

It doesn't sound like a good idea to list it on craigslist as an empty house (ie. unattended, potentially full of copper plumbing...)
posted by vitabellosi at 9:39 AM on February 3, 2012 [5 favorites]

There are rental management agencies that will rent it out, handling everything, for a percentage of the rent you wish to charge.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:39 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

If your "bland tract house" is actually a Ranch, don't sell that stuff short.
posted by rhizome at 10:22 AM on February 3, 2012

(ugh, universities)
posted by shortyJBot at 11:51 AM on February 3, 2012

I honestly can't think of a situation where this ends well for you. "A couple months" is such a brief period, that I imagine that the only takers you'd get are going to be druggies, partiers, or other persons up to no good, or some film shoot that leaves the property in worse condition than it started. No one is going to want it as a vacation rental or such if it's empty and unfurnished. I also can't imagine anyone who would want to start now, and continue to live in the house while it was undergoing "massive renovations".

Use the time to do as much of the prep-work for the renovations as you can. You can generally rip out carpets, take out doors, remove light fixtures, rip out transitions and moulding, mask off for painting, etc. without any permits. Depending on how "massive" the renovations will be, use the open space to pull out sinks and counters, appliances, take apart cabinets, whatever... so when you are ready to start, everything is good to go.

Just make sure to spend time at the house at least a couple times a week so it doesn't appear to be unoccupied.
posted by xedrik at 3:52 PM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Slightly different angle here, but assuming there's electricity and running water, could you minimally furnish the house and invite out-of-town friends to come vacation in LA, offering them the house for the duration of their stay?

This would help you avoid leaving the house sit empty, and would score tons of points with your friends.
posted by Rykey at 7:12 PM on February 4, 2012

Dammit, just saw the "make some money" part of your question, sorry. Well, I'm betting the right friends would be happy to pay you some amount smaller than the cost of a hotel during their stay.
posted by Rykey at 7:15 PM on February 4, 2012

To follow up. I did not mean for you to rent it out to just anyone as an empty house. I was thinking that someone might see it and have a need that you would be o.k. with meeting (movie location, etc.) that you had not thought of yourself. Just to open up possibilities, especially as in L.A. movie companies have odd needs, but just might mesh with the income you need.
posted by Vaike at 5:21 PM on February 5, 2012

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