TrustedHousesitters.com Survey Results & House Sitting Tips
Earlier this year, house sitting website TrustedHousesitters.com surveyed its ever-growing base of members, both house sitters and homeowners. The statistics that have come back and the feedback from both home owners and house sitters has been very interesting and the good news is there’s some clear pointers on how to get ahead as a house sitter.
Also giving some feedback on house sitting are the following:
- Rachel Martin – As both a house sitter and director of TrustedHousesitters.com, Rachel has a very good bird’s eye view on what works best when it comes to applying for housesits.
- Josie Schneider – Owner of housesittingtravel.com and author of the “The House Sitting Book”. When not writing, Josie house sits around the world with her husband Conrad Knutsen.
- Angela Laws – A Five Year Veteran House Sitter. Angela has looked after beach houses in California and vineyards in France and is currently on a six week long house sit in NYC.
- James Cave – James housesits full-time with his partner Jemma and is currently on a five month house sit in the South of France.
When comparing two different groups of house sitters on TrustedHousesitters.com, those who had managed to get a reasonable number of housesits since joining (around 6-10) and those that had yet to get one, there was one thing that struck out. 60% of those who were getting the house sits had started out with a nationally-based housesit rather than an international housesit.
James says: One of the first housesits we took on through TrustedHousesitters.com was in Edinburgh. Even though we were already living there, we took it on for the experience and reference and in actual fact it’s turned out to be one of our favourite housesits. Homeowners are often more willing to take someone on if they can meet them in person first, so keep an eye on the newest house sits to see if one crops up in your area.
References, Police Checks & Other Credibility Factors
It may seem obvious, but a lot of the house sitters who hadn’t managed to get a house sit yet didn’t have any of the credibility factors on their profile page. References, photos and police background checks all help to enable trust – after all if someone else is leaving you in charge of their home and pets, they’ll want to be one hundred percent certain they can trust you.
Rachel says: You don’t just need to add house sitting references to your profile. If you’re starting out you can add character, landlord and employment references. If you’ve housesat for friends and family (and it’s really recommended that you do) you can also get a pet sitting reference that way. Police background checks are really easy to obtain too – most countries enable you to apply for one online for about $10 or it’s as simple as popping into your local station to register for the information.
Engage with the Homeowner
While house sitting is a great way to travel, it’s not just about a free holiday. You’re there to look after someone else’s home and often their pets as well. While there’s no harm in explaining why you want to visit a certain area – and often this is a great point to add in – be sure to sell yourself as a house sitter first.
Angela says: I assess the listing and if the owners “appear” to be very anxious about their pets and the care they need, it’s easy to tell from the way they write, I address the initial message to the animals, by name, always following up with a message to the owners, letting them know I’m not some eccentric, mad woman. I’ve been in exactly the same position they find themselves with my own pet, empathy is important my genuine love of and concern for the animals is always conveyed very openly. I’ve had pet owners tell me that they get applicants who never even mention the animals.
Make it Easy for The Homeowner
Put yourself in the homeowner’s shoes. If you were thinking about taking on a house sitter you would want to know as much about them as possible; you would want to get to know them a little first. As great as e-mail is as an initial communication device, phone calls, Skype and if possible, a face-to-face meeting are a little friendlier. Most homeowners like to arrange a handover, usually a day or two before the house sit begins, so why not be proactive and arrange this yourself?
Josie says: “Proactive” is a beautiful word to keep in your mind at all times, and especially when applying for house sitting assignments. One of my much-used and favorite expressions to homeowners is, “I’d like to suggest that we. . . ” and then an ending to that sentence could be, “I’d like to suggest we set up a time to Skype,” or “I’d like to suggest we arrive a day or two early so you can tell us all about your home, (and animals).” It’s a good way to say what you want without sounding pushy. Taking the reins helps the homeowner relax too, because, let’s face it, the whole house sitting idea may be nerve-wracking for homeowners.
In my past life I was a shop-at-home drapery designer and as such, visited hundreds of homes each year. I got a lot more affective at my job once I realized my customers were nervous and wanted me to take the reins. First of all, they felt self-conscious about their homes, thinking I – as a designer – would judge them. They doubted their humble place wouldn’t stack up against the other homes I’d seen. Well, house sitting is a lot like that. Homeowners know, as a house sitter, I am going to witness all the foibles of the way they live. They’re worried we won’t like their home – they’re personal sanctuary. I see part of my job, as someone applying to a house sitting assignment, is to put them at ease, take the reins, and help them through this process. Yes, “proactive” is definitely the word to keep in mind.
And of course much of what I want is the same as what the homeowner wants – to know that they’re truthful, respectable and caring. Help them discover that in you and you’ll find yourself in the enviable position of getting house sits around the globe!
Housesits go quickly; sometimes within hours. Other house sitters know this and are usually signed up to daily, e-mail alerts or Twitter to get notified as soon as they go live on the site. Because time is of the essence, it’s worth making sure your profile is good to go as soon as that dream housesit comes up. If you don’t already have a profile start putting it together now and get a few housesits under your belt so that you’re ready when the moment comes.
Rachel says: My top tip? Apply as soon as a house sit appears, don’t wait as it won’t!
75% of house sitters who had created their profiles as recommended above, have secured 1-5 house sits in their first 3-6 months of being registered with Trustedhousesitters.c
Angela has been traveling the world for the past 40 years. Her career in International Marketing took her across Canada and the US and since the mid 80s has lived in Italy, N. Africa, India, Singapore and other parts of SE Asia with husband John, a Petroleum Engineer, now retired. Self-professed nomads with a shared passion for travel and animals, they continue to travel the world having adopted an affordable travel lifestyle: Pet and house sitting. Some five continents, many amazing homes and wonderful four legged friends later, Angela is the resident in-house expert, advising home owners and house sitters at Trusted House Sitters and a regular contributor to travel blogs sharing experiences of life away from the travel brochures, living like the locals. You can read more at www.housesittingperfected.com.