Tweener Homes Offers a Solution For People In-Between Residences
Despite the home rental options that abound, Nick Calvi saw a gap in the market when he and his wife found themselves in it.
Their home sold faster than expected and their soon-to-be new home wasn’t ready. The search for a short-term rental proved exasperating with properties not being available, companies not returning their messages or simply not finding something appropriate.
“We ended up finding constant frustration. We had nowhere to go,” Calvi said.
They got lucky and found a rental home where they could live for the four months before their new home was completed. But Calvi, a licensed real estate broker, recognized what he felt was a neglected class of renters: People who needed a home longer than the typical vacation rental of fewer than 30 days, but did not want to commit to the typical year-long lease.
He came up with Tweener Homes, a solution for those needing an “in-between” home due to temporary or permanent job relocation or finding themselves in the situation Calvi and his wife did.
Getting Comfortable With The In-Between
Calvi worked on the business model for two years before launching his Chandler-based company in 2018. How it works: Renters search through available homes on Tweener’s website and work out the details from there. The process is similar to popular alternative lodging platforms like AirBnB and Vrbo.
Where it differs is that Tweener is fully licensed and HOA-friendly, meaning neighbors are less likely to be turned off by the disadvantages that come with living next to a traditional vacation rental. Renters must pass background and credit checks. Homes must meet Calvi’s standards for cleanliness and amenities. All the basics must be provided.
“Someone can just move in with their clothes and a toothbrush and be comfortable,” Calvi said.
Homes are fully furnished and are available for one to 11 months. Renters must vacate the home in the same condition as when they moved in.
Currently, the program is only in Maricopa County but Calvi is working on expanding it statewide. He gets 5-6 requests for homes a day, he said. The average stay is 3-4 months.
First of its Kind
Calvi said Tweener is the first in the nation to specialize in this niche of working with people who need furnished rental homes on a short-term basis and homeowners who have a second home they wish to rent out for a few months at a time. He does not work with home sellers or buyers.
Calvi hopes his business gets fueled by being in, what research tells him, is the fastest-growing county in the country with an average of 200 people moving into Maricopa County daily, he said. According to U.S. Census data, there were 252 million housing units in the U.S. in 2018, with 3.5% — or 9 million — of the of those are being used as second homes.
“We do the things more realtors don’t want to do. And we give (renters) an alternative to a cramped apartment or hotel room,” Calvi said. “The 30-day minimum appeals to homeowners. There’s that sense of helping somebody while making some extra income.”
Chandler homeowner Perry Weisberg was intrigued by Tweener’s concept when he received a company brochure in the mail. Weisberg splits his time between his homes in Chandler and Minot, ND. He was among the first homeowners to get on board.
Extensive background checks and a format that wasn’t like the traditional vacation rental platform were appealing.
“It wasn’t an AirBnB thing with someone different every weekend. This seemed to be more of a stable client base. The background checks on renters helped give us some security that they would treat our home the way we’d want it to be treated,” Weisberg said.
Weisberg is working with his third renter since signing up and after a bit of an early learning curve he said everything has been working well.
Jennifer Koenig was worried when her Gilbert home sold quickly and her new one in Queen Creek wasn’t going to be ready for a few months. Her search of online sites revealed most did not offer a month-to-month contract, except for small apartments, and required an extra pet fee.
Thanks to a friend, Koenig found Tweener and also a temporary home that’s not far from her soon-to-be new one that’s near the school her son will attend. It’s also dog friendly. She moved into her rental last September and anticipates moving into the new home this month. She said she’s paying the same amount for the four-bedroom home with a big yard that she would have for a small two-bedroom apartment that lacked amenities.
Koenig is thrilled with the experience and spreading the word.
“The process was very quick, simple and straightforward. It’s been a complete lifesaver,” she said. “This house is so cute, my son doesn’t want to leave.”
'It's All About Just Helping People'
A native of Chicago, Calvi moved to the Valley in 2008. After his personal challenges with being in-between homes, coming up with a solution was clear. Research showed him the high number of secondary homes in Maricopa County and that coupled with the influx of residence was a prime formula for his business model.
He’s started radio ad and direct mail campaigns to target secondary homeowners, realtors and brokers to get the word out.
Calvi continues his main job as a real estate broker. He views Tweener as not just a side gig but one that allows him to throw a lifeline to people in a bind. He talked about a someone who was moving from Kansas City but their new home in Maricopa wasn’t completed. He was stressed out because he didn’t know where his family would live in a new state.
“He told me that they felt so much more at ease knowing they’ll have a nice home to move into,” Calvi said. “More than money or anything else, it’s all about just helping people.”
Interesting stat: There are 9 million second homes in the U.S., and 25% of those are tented through property management companies, according to property management platform Hostfully.
Outlet: Az Central