If you’re just getting started as a housesitter, the key to success will be getting glowing references and reviews on your profile.
Housesitting websites like Trusted Housesitters use a review and rating system to help build trust in the community. [check out my profile here]
The more 5-star reviews you have, the easier it is to get approved for housesits you apply to. Plus, you’ll get pet owners reaching out to you asking if you’re available.
As an added bonus, you’ll start to get referrals from owners that you’ve already sat for.
For example, I was housesitting for Bev in Mexico last summer. She left a positive review on my profile which helps to boost my clout. Bev later reached out to me to see if I would be available in the winter because the family wanted to go on another trip. She also said one of her friends was looking for a house sitter and asked if I would be interested.
To become a housesitter, you don’t need any extraordinary set of skills. Anyone can become a housesitter.
But sometimes it’s easy to fixate on the ‘free accommodation’ perk of the housesit and lose sight of the big picture.
This is understandable. Free rent is a huge benefit.
But it’s good to remember that you are making a commitment. You are committing yourself to care for someone else’s home and cherished pets which to them are like children.
This should not be taken lightly. You will have responsibilities.
There is a reason some house sitters get one raving review after another.
To set yourself up for success, here are the Top 5 Traits of the Reliable Housesitter:
1. YOU LOVE ANIMALS
One of the most important qualities is the love of animals. For the majority of housesitting assignments, you will need to look after someone’s pets.
Your primary responsibility will be to care for that pets as if they are your own.
2. YOU’RE RESPECTFUL
This is a big one.
Being respectful will really set you apart from the crowd and will ultimately be the difference for getting a raving review and being asked to come back for a return housesit.
- You should be respectful of the house and property – This includes keeping the house clean, not damaging valuables, replacing things that you use / eat / accidentally damage, upkeep of the yard / garden, etc.
- You respect the pets and animals – Obviously, you want to be as caring as possible to the pets but also making sure they get the exercise they need, fed at the times specified by the owners and treated as if they were your own children.
- You are respectful of the homeowner’s costs – For sits less than 3 months, the homeowner is usually responsible for covering the Utilities. You need do you your part to keep those costs to a minimum. Turning off lights, not running the air conditioning all day (especially if you’re not home), not using excess water, exceeding any wifi data limits, etc.
- You respect the culture – This is especially important when housesitting in foreign countries. Best to ask the homeowner if there are any cultural difference you should know about. (Quick Story: While housesitting in Malaysia, the homeowner let me know that the local Muslim culture did not allow them to touch dogs. To respect the culture and the neighbours of the homeowner, I would make sure to give a wide berth while walking the dogs)
- You respect the owner’s privacy – This includes asking for approval of bringing guests into the house, asking to post your photos of their pets on social media and not posting any photos of their house (especially the inside) onto the internet.
3. YOU’RE A GREAT COMMUNICATOR
Keeping an open line of communication with the homeowner will help to keep their minds at ease while they’re away.
For me, this starts right after I have confirmed the housesit and continues until after the owners have returned.
- After they have confirmed me as their house sitter I send them a ‘Thank You’ email and include all of my contact details.
- If I have to fly or take transportation to where they live, I will send them my itinerary once it’s confirmed so they know I’ve made the commitment.
- If the sit is months in the future, I send them ‘Hello’ emails every 3-4 months. This way they know I haven’t forgotten about them and that everything is still set.
- On the week leading up to the sit, I will confirm the time I will arrive and ask for detailed directions (if needed).
- While they are away I will send photos, videos and updates (some owners like very frequent updates, while others prefer more sporadic updates).
- The day before they come home, confirm their ETA. It’s good to know when they are coming back so you can make sure everything is clean and ready.
- A couple days after leaving I will thank them again for the opportunity and ask for a review / reference.
- I’ve made a serious connection with some of the owners and will send ‘How are you’ messages on major holidays (ie. Christmas)
Great communicators are also very good listeners and ask a lot of questions.
Homeowners will often have very clear instructions about things they would like done, how things work and what to do in different situations.However, sometimes you will need to ask them questions to get the information.
Here is a list of questions you should ask the homeowner before they leave on their trip:
(NOTE: These are just a few examples and may not apply in all situations. Use this as a general guide to create your own list of questions.)
- What is the pets/animal routine / feeding schedule / walking schedule?
- Where do you normally walk the dog(s)? Are they good around other animals / people / kids?
- What are their favourite things to do / play? Do they have a favourite toy?
- Can you provide a list of emergency numbers, including the vet?
- Do you have any family or friends in the area I can contact in an emergency and can’t get a hold of you?
- Can you show me around the house to see the hot water tank / fuse box / furnace / etc?
- Are there any plants / garden that needs watering? How often?
- How are the neighbours? Do they know you’re leaving?
4. YOU ARE OPEN AND HONEST
Honesty goes a long way.
Right from the very first interaction with the homeowner, it’s good to be upfront with:
- What you are and aren’t willing to do.
- (Example: I can’t walk the dogs 5 times per day)
- What you may not be comfortable with.
- (Example: Walking a large dog that pulls -OR- Feeding the snake)
- What experience you don’t have but are willing to learn.
- (Example: Taking care of chickens or farm animals)
- Your fluency or comprehension of a foreign language.
- (Example: To speak Spanish to housekeeper or gardener)
Being open and honest with homeowners will help them have more trust in you.
5. YOU ARE CLEAN AND ORGANIZED
Housesitting takes organization.
You’ll need to coordinate with the homeowners on dates and times for arrivals and departures.
You may have to keep a daily and weekly schedule for the pets (usually for dogs). Feeding, walks, vet appointments (for longer sits), grooming, medications, flea treatments, etc.
The house may have specific times for garbage pick-ups, gardening, watering, pool maintenance, etc.
House sitters are also clean. Keep the house clean and tidy (see above re: respect).
Everybody’s version of clean is different. One person’s idea of clean may be another person’s dirty. So my general rule that eliminates this problem is: Leave the house cleaner than you when you arrived!
The homeowner should come back to a spotless house.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER – The Housesitter Mindset
The house sitter mindset should focus on putting the pets first and then fitting your travels around that.
This doesn’t mean you have to spend 100% of the time at home. Just be sure you aren’t leaving the animals for longer than the owners have asked.
When I’m at a housesit, I want to make sure the owner is super happy. I do this for a few reasons.
- Why not? Of course, you want to make them happy.
- I want the owner to list their home again in the future (maybe me again?) and grow the community.
- If the owners give me a glowing reference, I can get more sits in the future.
- Referrals are a great way to grow my network.
- I don’t want to taint the goodwill of the housesitting community and ruin it for others.
Please make sure you have your priorities aligned. Take it seriously.
Do good things and good things will happen.
Send us a Message.
We’d love to help!