5 House Sitter Questions
With more than a handful of housesitting assignments under their belt, there’s a few house sitter questions that nearly always get asked of them by their clients. In this guest post provided by James from The House Sitting Couple, he gives a run down of what those five frequently asked questions are.
1. How do I know you’re not going to ditch this assignment half-way through?
Of all the concerns a housesitter has, this is probably the greatest. This isn’t a question that’s often asked outright, it’s just one that’s always brought up indirectly. Despite agreements, housesitting is for the most part based on trust.
As a housesitter you need to be as good as your word, and your word has to stand for a lot. If you commit to a housesit you need to see it through to the very end.
As a homeowner, there are few things more stressful than getting an email from your housesitter to say that they’ve decided this housesit isn’t for them when you’re already hundreds of miles from home. I know this because we often get emails from distressed and distraught homeowners whose housesitters have bailed on them – some we can help and some, due to our schedule we aren’t always able to help.
Of course there’s the occasional honest exception where a housesitter needs to leave suddenly (a family emergency for example). I think most home-owners, although naturally stressed, would be reasonable in this situation. We can honestly say we’ve never let a client down and short of a major disaster or the world ending, would stay put no matter what.
2. Do you have references?
References mean everything in the world of housesitting and the more you have, the most peace of mind a homeowner will have in taking you on. When you’re first starting out it can be difficult to get those references: you need assignments to get references and to get those assignments you need references. It’s a classic catch-22.
I think if you’re honest however, most homeowners won’t expect you to have 50 references. Start off by getting some character references (and be clear that these are character references as opposed to housesitting references), a police check and try taking on a few housesits for friends and family.
Our references can all be seen on our references page and most of them are also on our profiles on sites like Trusted House Sitters as well.
3. Are you sure you want to take on this housesit?
This is quite a funny question but we’ve been asked it a few times. Often the people we housesit are based in remote parts of the world. From their point of view, there’s little or nothing, two “young” housesitters would want to do and they expect that we’d prefer to housesit in a city or by the coast.
Actually we both quite like the country-life, but I can definitely see their point. Again it comes back to making sure that we’re going to enjoy the housesit enough to stay. In a former life I once applied for a job selling advertising for a travel magazine. After the initial interview questions of “tell me about yourself” the interviewer started asking why I would want the job. Did I not realize that I would be working twelve hour days, that the market is highly competitive and that the last guy left because of burnout? Basically he was making sure I wouldn’t bail when the going got tough and that I wasn’t sweet-talking him just to get a job. In the end I decided not to go for the position and for both of us, it was definitely the right decision. I think it’s a good tactic for homeowners to use as well.
4. Can we meet/arrange a phone call to discuss this further?
It’s easy to understand why people would want to do this. Because of the distances however, we’re not always able to meet with clients beforehand. But it’s easy enough to arrange Skype calls or phone calls to discuss any of their concerns, and this direct contact is often all that’s needed to put a home owners mind at ease.
5. Can you arrive a day or two early?
When arranging our housesitting schedule for the coming months we always allow a few extra free days in between housesits. This gives us enough time to travel in between the two assignments comfortably. It also means that, should a client require it, we can arrive a little earlier to go through all of the particulars: where the dog food is kept, who the neighbours are (and possibly a chance to meet them), what to do if the boiler breaks etc.
I’d recommend all other housesitters do the same: it’s definitely less stressful for both parties.
A full list of some of the additional questions and concerns home/pet owners tend to have can be seen on The House Sitting Couple’s FAQ page.