Your job: Debbie Norman


Job:Real estate broker and owner of House Nannys

Company:House Nannys places professional house managers in vacant homes for sale. This concept started in 1979 in Seattle. In the early '80s, it became popular in Oklahoma and Texas during the oil bust. With more than 400 vacant homes for sale just in the city of Rochester, many homeowners are facing high overhead costs, vandalism, theft and costly repairs, not to mention the cost of insuring a vacant home. House Nannys covers the cost of utilities, maintains the yard and snow removal and keeps the house in good working order. The service is free to the homeowner. My partner, Letitia Granum, owns a staging company called Stage It Today and is a professional stager, so the homes are decorated and staged to show beautifully.

Education:Associate degree in business from Rochester Community and Technical College, real estate broker’s license in the state of Minnesota.

What book, movie, TV show made a big impression and why?"The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne. It reinforces my belief that, "positive thoughts bring positive outcomes and negative thoughts bring negative outcomes."’ You have a choice. I’m all about the power of positive thinking.


Do you use Facebook or Twitter or any social media?

I use Facebook for fun, but one of my 2011 resolutions is to learn how to use Facebook to help grow my business.

What is your business philosophy?It’s all about my clients. If you have that mindset, there is never a question about how people feel about doing business with you. It’s not about making "the deal;" it’s about doing the right thing. It’s about serving your client. If you always keep that in mind, you always win. I want the experience to be the best possible for everyone.

How did you get in the House Nannys business?I am a native of Rochester but lived for many years in Tulsa, Okla., where I had a successful real estate business. A friend in Tulsa owns a company just like House Nannys, and I used her services many times and found some real advantages to having my vacant listings staged and well-cared for. After moving back to Rochester just over two years ago, I began to realize the real need for a service like that here. I heard about vacant homes being vandalized, pipes freezing and general maintenance issues being ignored, so I contacted my friend in Tulsa and emulated her company.

What is the typical customer?We actually have three customers: the homeowners, the real estate agents and the house managers.

Homeowners come to us mostly through the real estate agent who has the home listed for sale. Many times the homeowners may have issues insuring their vacant home or feel very uneasy about having their home sitting empty.

Real estate agents love the concept because we stage the homes for free, and they sell better.

House managers come to us from all walks of life. We look for people with nice furniture, no pets, a good background and a flair for keeping a tidy home. Many have homes to sell elsewhere and are looking for something cost effective or are new to the area and aren’t sure where they want to settle. We also cater to those going through a divorce or those who just like to live in a nice home for a fraction of the cost. They don’t want long term leases and are looking for something cost effective.


Is there a big demand?We are happy with our growth and have seen a big push now that the cold weather is here. Homeowners worry about pipes breaking and keeping the snow removed. We are always searching for qualified house managers to fill our vacant homes.

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