This is a guest post written by James Cave, owner and creator of Trusted House Sitters
In 2013, housesitting website TrustedHousesitters.com ran a survey of all their members, both house sitters and homeowners. As a house sitter myself, this was the first time I was able to see some real data on house sitting; what homeowners were looking for, why some people were getting more housesits than others and what I could do to improve my chances of getting more housesits.
I’ve taken all of that data and along with the help of full-time housesitter Angela Laws, and Rachel Martin, a director at TrustedHousesitters.com, I’ve put together some of the most interesting bits. Enjoy!
Tip #1: Pursue Local Housesits First
It’s interesting to look at the difference between those who’ve managed to land no housesits and those who’ve managed to land a reasonable number; say 6-10. 60% of those people all have one thing in common: their first housesit was national not international.
The takeaway from this is that while housesits in Thailand, Costa Rica and Australia might seem like paradise – especially if you’re from the UK – you’re better off taking on a few housesits in your own country first in order to gain experience and references.
Three countries that have a lot of housesits are Australia, the UK and the United States. If you’re currently living in any of those countries, you have plenty of opportunities to get some housesits under your belt.
Tip #2: Get References, Police Checks & Add More Photos
Trusting someone else to look after your home and pets is a big step and as a house sitter it’s important to make yourself look as trustworthy as possible.
Interestingly, looking through the feedback from the members at Trusted Housesitters, the more ‘trustworthy’ features a sitter has, for example photos, references and police background checks, the more likely they were to take that person on.
That might seem like common sense, but it’s amazing how many house sitters don’t provide this information up front.
Tip #3: Read Between the Lines
Angela Laws has been house sitting for five years and in that time has looked after everything from vineyards in France to townhouses in London and beach houses in California. Essentially she’s the person who manages to nab all of the top housesits (you can read an article about her in the Canadian Metro News)
Although Angela is very experienced, the reason homeowners tend to go for her is that she makes a connection with them. She highlights that she’s a homeowner, that she’s had pets before and that she knows how difficult it is to leave anybody in charge of those two things.
She even sends an email to the pets. Oh, and another one to the homeowners afterwards to let them know that she’s not a crazy!
Tip #4: Make Yourself Easily Contactable
Email is a great form of communication but it’s often impersonal. Most homeowners will want to Skype or have a phone call to get to know you and often to show you around their home via video. If you live nearby to the homeowner or are planning to be in the area, why not arrange to meetup?
Tip #5: Be Proactive and Suggest a Handover
I haven’t had a housesit where there hasn’t been some kind of a handover. Usually this means arriving a day or two early to get to know the pets and all the features of the property. As this is most likely an inevitability, set yourself apart by suggesting it early on.
Tip #6: Apply Early
Housesits go fast. Rachel Martin says, “Apply as soon as a house sit appears, don’t wait as it won’t!” Sometimes it’s really a “fingers on the buzzers” game, so make sure you have an active profile, with photos and credibility factors ready to go for when that dream housesit comes up.
James is a full-time house sitter and is currently in the middle of a nine month house sitting stint in the South of France. To date he’s looked after more than 50 animals, although that does include a farm of 18 alpacas.