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 to make extra money around a traditional job. While many home owners hire house sitters to feed and care for their pets, reset alarms, water plants, collect mail and the newspaper, they also want the home to look occupied.  With that said, some clients may not ask that you stay on the premises and instead you can simply make a point to visit the house once or twice a day.

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 services home business. Even with home security systems, homeowners may want the additional peace of mind of knowing that someone is on the premises to keep an eye on things. 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.

While pay will vary on whether you live-in, the amount of tasks you're responsible for, and geographic location, pay ranges from $25 to $50 a day. Generally you can charge more if you live-in and/or have to care for pets.

Advantages of Starting a House-Sitting Business

There are several pros to starting a house sitting business including:

  • Can be started part-time around a job. 
  • Low start up. All you need is you and transportation to get you to your clients' homes.
  • Except for the part where you're bringing in the mail, feeding the cat and watering the plants, the rest of time you live your normal day, which means you can watch TV and other things you normally do.
  • Regular change of scenery. While there are tasks you need to take care of, house sitting can feel like a mini-vacation staying in someone else's home.

Disadvantages of a House-Sitting Business

There are a few downsides to starting a house sitting business. 

  • It's not a business that you can build into a full-time income, unless you take on a team of house sitters that you pay (as employees or contractors) and manage. While this would be more lucrative, it does require more work to insure you're hiring honest people, as well as managing the money and house assignments.
  • Can strain relationships if you're away from significant others a lot.
  • You should pay to get bonded and insured in case issues can 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.

 

What You’ll Need to Start a House-Sitting Business

Starting a house-sitting business isn’t expensive – much of what you’ll need won’t cost you a dime. Your reputation is your calling card, so 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. Here are the steps to opening a house sitting business.

  1. Write a business plan outlining your ideas about your business including types of clients, list of services, fees you plan to charge and marketing ideas. 
  2. Put your legal house in order. While you can house sit as an individual, if you want to promote yourself as a business, you should pick a business name, decide your business structure, and get any necessary permits, and other tasks required to put in the foundation of your business.
  1. Consider getting bonded and insured against anything that could go wrong while your house sitting.
  2. Start marketing. Begin by telling your friends and family about your house sitting business. Consider getting business cards that they can share with their friends and family. Other marketing ideas include: posting flyers and business cards about town at pet stores, in veterinarian’s offices and at animal hospitals, and travel agencies. Consider setting up a website or a profile on a house sitting referral network. Don't forget to ask for referrals from your clients, as it's easier and more affordable to market by word-of-mouth.

Updated Jan 2017 Leslie Truex