There are many types of sitting. Some prefer the act of babysitting, of course, having an invested emotional interest in babies (not so much changing diapers I am sure). Others adore pets enough to take care of them, acting as a pet sitter for those owners who take extended trips away. Gaining in popularity and demand is house sitting. In its simplest form, it is the act of watching a house. Just because they do not breathe, they still need to be watched as any of the more animate sitting jobs.
House sitting entails that an individual oversee the responsibilities of a home. This could include situations very specific to that home, or vague varying on the agreements between owner and house sitter.
- Pool maintenance
- Lawn mowing
- General Security
House sitting may also incorporate pet sitting as well. The idea is that as an owner leaves for an extended period of time, the home is being watched by a trustworthy individual. On more specific terms, insurance companies void claims if a homeowner is away from their home for long periods of time. A house sitter, accompanied by legal paperwork, can prove there was someone watching the home as the homeowner was vacant. House sitters are becoming more prevalent with crime rates rising; stingier insurance practices, and jobs becoming further away. With accessible cross-country travel such as a business trip, a trustworthy and consistent house sitter may be a requirement for those who go on extended trips away from their home.
Some house sitters can stay on the property for a long period of time. Like Stephen King’s novel The Shining, a house sitter resides on the property as if living there, and he is expected to maintain the property (except without the ghosts). And like that novel, the property does not need to be a house, but farmland, hotels, and business properties may apply. As the house sitter stays, he or she may be paid up front. But there are agreements where a house sitter is paid in “living.” This way, the owner does not pay the house sitter directly, but does so by providing shelter, electricity, and other miscellaneous bills procured through living at the property. The specific terms of the agreement are between the owner and the house sitter. They may involve a steady rate or a rate that increases as time goes on or new unexpected home issues arise. A house sitter may also visit the property often without actually living on the property.
Finding a trustworthy house sitter is at the very core of what makes a house sitter valuable. With access to an individual’s home, you ultimately have access to their most private affairs. Homeowners do not take this likely. As they find a proper house sitter, there number one priority is finding an individual they trust. This is why many turn to family and friends to house sit. Consider this your competition, a competition you cannot compete with.
House sitting is an accessible job. There are no required licenses and no real skills necessary to commit to the job properly. The barrier of entry for house sitting is almost uniformly low, and this causes a lot of untrustworthy individuals to enter into the field. The easier it is to get in, the more poor performers are in the field. Trust is, in many ways, your greatest asset. Because house sitting does not require raw skills to be effective, nor does it take innovative strategies to accomplish successfully, trust becomes your truest to divide you from the competition. As you venture into house sitting part term, and perhaps even fulltime, always be aware of the other individuals and what they bring to the table- because if you look at the big picture, it is the trust factor that makes all the difference.
Owners often supplant trust with official terms of agreement. The terms highlight that, indeed, this person does have access to the home. Other than specific dates and hours the individual is allowed to be in the home, it will likely highlight what specific tasks are to be accomplished and upheld.
Many individuals allow one to housesit without these specific terms and agreements. This is not a way to do business! If you settle into a verbal agreement to housesit, this more informal approach can have awful consequences. It is not unheard of that an owner or house sitter becomes legally responsible for something unexpected because the terms were never formally pronounced. For example, if the house was to burn down during an away, the insurance company may revoke any claims. As well, if a house sitter is seen residing in a house, he may be arrested for breaking and entering!
Formal paperwork is the only way to protect you in a situation, and it also reflects a certain responsibility and seriousness that can reaffirm that you are a professional and not house sitting for “a few extra dollars.” This professionalism will work in your favor, as well as attribute trust, as you expand your business.
Market yourself locally, as it is only a local audience that you can reach. Building a website is recommended for most businesses, but may be a bit excessive here. Try by reaching out to second-tier friends and family. These are individuals who you are familiar with, but do not interact with regularly. You can tell these individuals that you are looking to expand into house sitting, and consider yourself a valuable and trustworthy option. Craigslist may also be a noteworthy place, but consider that many do not trust a stranger from the Internet to have access to their home. Always leave open the option to meet and greet the homeowners before affirming terms. Skype allows for webcam communication for free. By using Skype, you can virtually meet any potential customer. Even further, you can promise consistent Skype interactions during their time away. This is to build trust and possibly be the deciding factor in choosing you over a competitor.
Make yourself as transparent as reasonable as you seek to find customers. They want to trust you, but you have to show you can deliver. Use Skype as a means to lower a communication barrier, and insist on filing the proper paperwork to protect you and build a level of professionalism. If you are a charismatic and trustworthy individual, who follows these basic mechanics, you are bound to have some level of success house sitting no matter the region.