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Home Business Idea - House Sitting

What Does It Take to Start a House Sitting Home Business?

By Ron Dicker

(LifeWire) - Overview of this Business

House sitters take on a range of responsibilities for their absent clients: feeding and caring for pets, resetting alarms, watering plants, paying bills, collecting mail and keeping up the appearance of continued inhabitance. In some instances, those who offer house sitting they may live on the premises while the owners are away. Such an arrangement often includes expenses for supplies provided by the homeowner. With low overhead demands and a potential stream of repeat clients, house sitting can bring in supplemental income. However, with fees mostly ranging between $12 to $40 a day per home, it can be difficult to build the enterprise into a primary wage.

The demand for house sitters remains constant in part because kennels can be expensive for owners and unsettling for pets. Even with a home security system, homeowners may also want the additional peace of mind of somebody keeping an eye on their dwelling. Some experts assert that homeowners prefer house sitters in their 40s and older, assuming they'll be more responsible. But this home business idea is open to anyone whom potential clients deem to be beyond reproach -- and in most cases an animal lover. In fact, offering house sitter services can be a natural adjunct for a pet sitting services home business.

Many house sitters set out in the business casually, but it's a good idea to be bonded and insured, especially when minding pets. A certification from the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters might reassure more finicky pet owners. One option to enhance earning potential would be to develop a house sitting referral service, but that involves far more business acumen, as well as extensive background checks of all who work for you.

Pros of a House Sitting Home Business

  • No training is necessary.
  • Low-cost or free advertising can get the promotional side done.
  • The task is easily integrated into the day.
  • Animal lovers will get their fill.
  • Bookkeeping is light.
Cons of a House Sitting Home Business
  • It's tough to earn significant income house sitting unless you start a referral service.
  • Issues may arise if a household item is lost or stolen on your watch, or if a pet dies or gets injured.
  • Temptation to stack up jobs might overextend you.
What You Need to Get Started in a House Sitting Home Business
  • A clean record with a list of legitimate references
  • Friends, relatives and associates to help spread word of mouth
  • Insurance and bonding, if required by law
  • An ad in local publications -- online and in print -- plus flyers and business cards to pass out, stick on windshields in parking lots, distribute at pet and home improvement fairs, and animal hospitals. A website to promote your business is also a good idea.

House Sitting Home Business: Real-Life Example

Stephen Ames of Malta, N.Y., charges $15 for each overnight stay, plus a $120 weekly pet-sitting fee for one dog, according to an article at housecarers.com.

LifeWire, a part of The New York Times Company, provides original and syndicated online lifestyle content. Ron Dicker is a New York-based freelance writer who covered sports for the New York Times from 1996 to 2005.
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