How to Start a House-Sitting Business

Use Your Spare Time to Start a House-Sitting Business

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House-sitting is an ideal business for making extra money while working at a full-time job. While many homeowners hire house-sitters to feed and care for their pets, reset alarms, water plants, and collect mail and the newspaper, they may also want their home to look occupied to ward off any potential break-ins. With that said, some clients may not ask that you stay on the premises and, instead, visit the house once or twice a day.

Demand for House-Sitters

The demand for house-sitters remains constant, particularly with homeowners who have pets. Kennels can be expensive and unsettling for their animals. In fact, offering house-sitting services can be a natural adjunct for a pet-sitting home business. Even with home security systems, homeowners may want the additional peace of mind knowing that someone is on the premises to keep an eye on their home and possessions. Some experts indicate that homeowners prefer house sitters who are in their 40s or older, presuming they'll be more responsible, but a house-sitting business is a good option for anyone with a solid, upstanding reputation.

Salary for House Sitters

The salary varies depending on whether you live-in or make daily visits. In addition, salary is determined based on the number of assigned tasks and geographic location. Pay may range from $25 to $50 a day. Generally, you can charge more if you live-in or have to care for pets.

Advantages of Starting a House-Sitting Business

There are several benefits to starting a house-sitting business, including:

  • It can be run part-time around your full-time job. 
  • It involves low start-up costs. All you need is transportation to and from your clients' homes.
  • Except for everyday tasks such as bringing in the mail, feeding the cat and watering the plants, you live your normal day, spending time doing what you want.
  • It provides a regular change of scenery. While there are tasks that you need to accomplish, house-sitting can feel like a mini-vacation staying in someone else's home.

Disadvantages of Starting a House-Sitting Business

There are also a few downsides to starting a house-sitting business: 

  • It's not a business that you can develop into a full-time job with sufficient income, unless you hire and manage a team of house sitters that you pay as employees or contractors. While this would be more lucrative, it does require additional work to insure you're hiring honest people, as well as managing the money and house assignments.
  • The job commitment can strain relationships if you're away from significant others for extended periods.
  • You should pay to get bonded and insured in case issues arise, such as if a household item is lost, stolen or broken on your watch, or if a pet gets sick, becomes injured, or dies. The temptation to stack up jobs might overextend you, and accidents are more likely to happen when you’re feeling rushed and under pressure.

Steps for Starting a House-Sitting Business

Starting a house-sitting business isn’t expensive like other business start-ups, however, reputation is important. Your reputation is your calling card, as it can help considerably if you’re not new to town and have established relationships with a number of residents who can give you shining, legitimate references. Getting certified by the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters might reassure finicky pet owners. Steps to opening a house-sitting business include:

  1. Writing a business plan outlining ideas about your business, including types of clients, list of services, your fees, and marketing ideas. 
  2. Drawing up a contract with the agreement terms and roles and responsibilities.
  3. Obtaining the necessary permits and licenses. While you can house sit as an individual, if you want to promote yourself as a business, you should select a business name, determine your business structure, and obtain any necessary permits and licenses, and other tasks required to set a foundation of your business.
  4. Getting bonded and insured against anything that could go wrong while house-sitting.
  5. Marketing your business by spreading the word to friends and family. Consider getting business cards that can be circulated among friends, family, and potential clients. Other marketing ideas include posting flyers and business cards about town at pet stores, supermarkets, veterinarian offices, community centers, and travel agencies. Consider setting up a website or a profile on a house-sitting referral network or post an advertisement about your business in the classified section of your town's online newspaper or on Craigslist. Don't forget to ask for referrals from your clients, as it's easier and more affordable to market by word-of-mouth.

Although starting a house-sitting business does not cost a lot of money, you will need to invest a significant amount of time in setting up and promoting your business, as well as gaining the trust of your clients. In addition, while the responsibilities and tasks may seem simple, it is important to protect yourself from any unanticipated events that could be problematic by ensuring that you have insurance and possibly a contract with the terms of the agreement understood by you and the client.