The demand for people who ‘sit’ for free in exchange for accommodation is at an all-time high as world-wide, people leave home in droves.
Not only do home owners and renters need house sitters to keep things running smoothly on the home front in their absence. A surge in pet ownership over recent years means a higher proportion than previously have newly acquired ‘pandemic pets’ to be cared for.
Because of this, house sitters are spoilt for choice of house sitting jobs.
Therefore it is more important than ever that those in search of house and pet sitters know how-to attract good candidates. There are several steps in the process of securing a sitter who is a good match for your needs.
Our Top 5 Tips explain how-to avert any unwanted surprises and find your trusted house sitter/s.
TIP 1: Register with a House Sitting Website
Often people wonder if they can get away without joining a house sitting website and instead, find someone through word of mouth or on Facebook groups.
The most efficient and prudent course of action is to connect through the secure online environment of a house sitting website that supports the value-exchange arrangement of house and pet sitting. There are many reasons for this, central to which is that both house sitter and home owner/renter are accountable to the platform. Other reasons include:-
House Sitters are Verified
Most house sitting websites give house sitters the option to undergo a third party Identity check. Once finalised, a badge icon appears on the house sitters’ profile to show “ID Verified”.
This makes it easy for home owners to connect only with ID Verified house and pet sitter/s.
Visible house sitting history
Potential users are able to see a visible record of members’ house sitting history.
People searching for sitters are able to read online Reviews from past home owners. Reviews detail the house sitting jobs done by the house sitter/s, plus other aspects the home owner chooses to mention.
In addition, to cater to people who have completed a few house sits separate to a particular platform, all house sitting websites allow house sitters to upload written References.
Also, most house sitting websites have a 5 Star Rating feature. This allows home owners to allocate “stars” to different aspects of their experience with the house sitter/s e.g. Organised, Reliable, Self-sufficient, Tidy, Pet Care.
Members are accountable
It is in no-one’s best interests for house sitting websites to have members in their midst who don’t do the right thing by others.
Some platforms take accountability one step further, and require new members to agree to a Code of Conduct on joining.
On the rare occasion a member does the wrong thing, the site reserves the right to cancel the rogue members’ account.
Identity is protected
House sitting platforms shield the exact location and personal details of the individual until such time as both parties agree to connect.
Connecting is easier
The process of connecting is so much simpler on a house sitting website than via any other method. Each step is streamlined, which means all home owners need do is follow the prompts to attract the best ‘fit’ for their needs.
Insider Tip: Advertise on just one house sitting website. List on multiple platforms and you risk being inundated with enquiries from hopeful house sitters. This will generate unnecessary work. If you receive less applicants than you had hoped for, then consider listing on another house sitting site.
TIP 2: Write a detailed Advertisement
It is very important home owners give prospective house sitters as much information as possible.
In the current climate where house sitters have a large pool of assignments to select from, short, vague listings often result in home owners receiving few, if any, applications.
More is better than less! Home owners should make time to write a detailed description of their home, property, pets and house sitting jobs. People whose listing contains scant detail and/or no photos may not receive any applications at all.
The more information in the ad, the easier it is for house sitters to rule themselves in, or out. Details house sitters need-to-know include:-
Your Home and Location
House sitters want insights into the home they’ll be living in, and the immediate area.
Do you live in a one-bedroom apartment in a busy city, family home in a sleepy suburb, country cottage on a remote farm, converted castle in the French countryside or beside the seaside?
If there is no parking near your home, mention this. Many house sitters don’t drive a car, but some do.
Some house sitters travel widely and have little or no knowledge about the area where you live.
Let potential sitters know about your local area and nearby facilities. If it’s a long way to the closest shop, mention this in your ad. If there are great walks or natural attractions nearby, say so.
Animals to be cared for
Do you have companion animals, farm animals, a combination of the two or no animals at all?
If companion animals, give insights into their behaviour and routine. For how long and how often do dogs need to be walked?
Do you have six cats indoor cats whose litter trays need to be cleaned each day? Will your pets fret if left alone for long, or are they accustomed to being home alone all day?
It is very important to specify breed and age of dogs.
There’s a big difference between caring for a young Border Collie who needs exercise, stimulation and close monitoring, compared to an elderly Golden Retriever with arthritis who is content to sleep most of the day and can’t walk far, or often.
House sitting jobs
What are the house sitters responsibilities in and around the home? Is there a pool to be maintained, lawns mown, hedges trimmed, garden weeded? Or do your house sitting jobs consist of watering the potted plants and feeding a few fish.
Will your sitters need transport?
Some house sitters have transport, but many don’t. Do you live close to public transport links? Or will your house sitter/s need a vehicle? If you’re open to making a vehicle available to your house sitters, say so in your ad.
Define your expectations
House sitting is not a one-size-fits-all.
House sitters come from all walks of life and are looking for houses to ‘sit’ for a range of reasons.
Many are location independent workers who prefer to be home more often than not because the main reason they sit is to settle somewhere and work online. Others sit for new adventures and want to be out and about, sight seeing during the day.
The clearer home owners’ define expectations, the more likely they are to receive applications from house sitters who are a good ‘fit’.
TOP TIP: Problems occur when house sitters turn up to find the house is nothing like they were led to believe. Occasionally pets have issues that were never mentioned. Full and honest disclosure will prevent misunderstandings and possible disputes.
The importance of including photos in your listing cannot be overstated!
In addition to knowing how many and what breed of animals are to be cared for, house sitters want to get glimpses into the house they’re applying to live in.
Important areas are kitchen, bathroom, the main living area and their bedroom. Also garden, lawns and pool, if applicable.
Insider Tip: Your listing is your responsibility. By being thorough, open and honest you’ll be setting yourself up for a happy house sitting experience.
TIP 3: Short list applicants
Don’t publish your listing then wait a couple of days to check the response.
As soon as you post your ad, allocate time to deal with the first influx of enquiries. It should not take long to select a few applicants who meet most, if not all, of your requirements. Trust your intuition! Pick people you feel good about, whose application was polite and friendly and profile engenders confidence.
Make a short list of two or three applicants and contact them in order of preference. If there are any aspects about which you’d like more information, then ask. For example, you may want to know the age of each child in the house sitting family of four.
Insider Tip: Because house sitters have no guarantee of securing a particular house sitting job and often apply for multiple assignments simultaneously, important home owners open up two-way communication with preferred applicants ASAP.
TIP 4: Interview your preferred house sitter
Don’t rely on communicating via the platform’s internal messaging system to select your house sitter.
You’re about to enter into a relationship – for a little while, or perhaps a long time. There will always be people you ‘click with’, and whose house sitting experience is a good match for your needs.
And there will be others who, for whatever reason, you don’t feel a connection with, or whose expectations aren’t a good ‘fit’.
Once you’ve selected your preferred sitter/s, important to open up two-way communication ASAP.
That way applicants know they’re in with a chance and may hold off applying for other assignments for the same dates, pending speaking with you.
Suggest a video chat or, if possible, meet in person. House sitters appreciate the opportunity to meet people and pets. And see the home they’re applying to care for, in particular, kitchen, main living area, their bedroom and if applicable, the garden and lawn they’re being asked to tend.
If it’s not possible to have a video call, then a phone conversation is preferrable to not meeting at all. Trust your instincts.
Insider Tip: Talking conveys so much more than tapping 😉
TIP 5: How far in advance should you advertise?
As a general rule, eight to ten weeks is the optimum time to start searching for a house sitter.
Longer than that, and you risk your selected sitter having to pull out closer the time. However, a few factors influence how far in advance home owners should advertise on a house sitting website.
If your home is in an isolated or remote area, it may take more time to find sitter/s who want to live where you do. Whereas if you live in one of the world’s best cities, or a popular tourist destination, chances are a lot of people will apply no matter when you advertise.
If your house sitter/s needs to travel from abroad, they need lead time to make arrangements and book flights. Whereas sitters in your local area may be available at short notice.
Insider Tip: No matter how honorable and committed, the longer the intervening period, the more likely people’s circumstances will change – either yours or theirs.
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