12 STEPS FOR GETTING A HOUSE SIT
Found that ideal house sitting job? Don’t know what to say? Well here are our 12 steps for getting a house sit. Increase your chances of landing that ideal house sitting assignment with a well thought out application.
WHAT DO HOME OWNERS WANT?
Honest, quality information that will help them make an informed decision. They want to go on holidays with the peace of mind that you are the right person to take care of their beloved pets and home.
You may have listened to friends house sitting adventures, or just stumbled upon the idea while browsing the internet and you have just gathered up the courage to house sit for the first time. Maybe you have minded houses for family and friends but not for people you haven’t met.
Here are some tips on what information to include in your application so that the homeowner can get to know you, your likes and dislikes and what motivates you so that they are comfortable that they are making the right decision.
1. BE FLEXIBLE
If you have your heart set on a specific date, location and type of pet you may miss out on some amazing opportunities that you hadn’t thought of and it may never come up. Have a goal but make it general, e.g. North Coast for 4-5 weeks in winter with any small pet will give you many more options than a seaside village near Byron Bay for 30 days on May with a pool, cats and no garden.
2. APPLY FOR ALL INTERESTING ASSIGNMENTS
Even if the dates don’t quite suit just find out which are still available to start with. If you are planning to house sit for a few weeks or more you may want to line up a couple of house sits. Don’t focus on just one at a time. Chances are some will be taken, some will prefer locals, men, couples or whatever. Once you hear back you can decide which ones to continue with.
3. CREATE A GREAT APPLICATION
You don’t have to spend hours on every application. Once you have it right, just change the names and add or delete a paragraph here and there to make it appropriate to the housesitting position. Make sure you proofread well, you don’t want to say Hi Jack, I would love to take your Great Dane for walks on the beach when her name is Mary and she has a pet rat in a high-rise apartment 6 hours from the coast.
4. ONLY APPLY FOR JOBS YOU REALLY WANT
If you are doubtful that you would be comfortable with a particular animal then don’t apply. For instance you may be intimidated by big dogs, but if they are well-trained that may not be a problem. Maybe cats annoy you, you might be able to fool the owner but the cat will know and follow you everywhere! Many people who get house sitters care about their pets happiness more than their own! Leave those sits to people who really want to be with the animal.
5. OPEN THE LINES OF COMMUNICATION
It is most important that you find out enough about each other to know that you will both be comfortable with the situation. Don’t cloud the initial communications with too much detail about household duties, that just confuses the issue. The most important thing at this stage is that you get shortlisted.
6. TALK ABOUT YOURSELF
Say quite a bit about yourself so that they feel they are getting to know you, that way by the time you meet they will be confident that their pets/house will be fine in your capable hands – if they don’t like something you say and reject you on that basis, then that is fine. You don’t want to sit for people who differ so much from your value system anyway, it is a good predictor of trouble down the track. Don’t feel rejected and lose heart. Remember they are considering lots of house sitters, you are considering lots of homeowners. You don’t know them, it doesn’t matter if they pick someone else.
7. BE OPEN TO OPTIONS
Be up front. You don’t want the home owner to think that things are settled just to find that you have taken another position elsewhere leaving them in the lurch. Likewise you don’t want to take a position that you don’t really want just because you feel guilty that hadn’t made it clear that you hadn’t decided yet.
8. ARE THE HOME OWNER DATES FLEXIBLE
It may appear that two house sits overlap but it may turn out that one homeowners dates are quite fluid, whereas another may have already booked their tickets and want you there 2 days earlier for handover.
9. LEAVE DETAILS UNTIL LATER
In future emails get down to details. Check if the pets are on any medication, vets phone numbers, who their backup people in the area are, the day and time they expect you there.
10. STICK TO YOUR COMMITMENT
There are usually a few emails or phone calls going back and forth before anything is locked in, though once the homeowner has decided they will want your commitment so they can stop looking and just concentrate on organising their holiday.
11. PREPARE YOUR QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
It is a good idea to have a list of questions that the homeowners fill out and get that out of the way before you get there. This gives you both a chance to clarify any uncertainties when you get there. Remember that your terminology may be quite different so it is good to go over the same ground again. If you fill in the questions that you already know the answers to, they know that I have been listening and you can check that I have understood while saving repetition. If the homeowner is daunted by this, fill in what you can and take it with you to complete when you meet.
12. GET THEIR REPLY
It is best if you can have a few hours for them to show you around, maybe even get there the night before, though they may not want you underfoot while they are busy packing. They may pick you up from the airport, but I wouldn’t push it unless they offer as they will be busy. That may be a good time for you to talk.
A form is pretty standard practice and a version is available from some of the house sitting websites. It is a great way to make sure you don’t miss any info, things like where to turn off the water and power in an emergency, who to call if you don’t get back from a day trip in time to feed the dogs, which rooms you can use etc.