Why is HouseSitMexico a better choice than an internationally oriented website?
If you want to house sit in Mexico, there is no better place to register as a house sitter than HouseSitMexico! No other house sitting service offers so many choices and opportunities to do just that.
With the big international sites, house sitters like you are in constant competition with literally thousands of other house sitters for the assignments that come available – and it gets very competitive.
Homeowners who seek a sitter through HouseSitMexico do so knowing that all our sitters have pre-qualified themselves in one special way. Coming to Mexico is not just a momentary whim. Your membership in HouseSitMexico shows homeowners you are motivated and focused on Mexico as your destination. Seen from the perspective of a homeowner in Mexico, that makes you as a house sitter seem more attractive and more reliable on a number of levels. It makes their job of finding and trusting a sitter to be that much easier.
If Mexico is where you want to be, no other website will provide you with as many opportunities, informational resources, or sense of community as does HouseSitMexico.
Why should homeowners want a sitter?
The three most common reasons homeowners cite as to why they want house sitters are: pet care, home maintenance and security.
Having a house sitter provide pet care not only saves the homeowner the cost of kennel fees, but it’s a healthier, safer and a much happier alternative for the pet. What pet wouldn’t be happier staying in their home environment?
Beyond basic daily maintenance (watering plants and “keeping the place up”) having house sitters can also be valuable in emergency situations, whether the problem is a leaky pipe or something more serious. Contact information for service providers (such as plumbers) and other emergency instructions are best handled in the written agreement between you and the house sitter(s).
Security is a serious concern to homeowners, whether they in Mexico or anywhere in the world. Having a home occupied is an important deterrent to burglaries.
A less mentioned motivating factor as to why homeowners may want a house sitter may be cost savings. In some cases of particularly long term house sits, expenses such as utilities and the gardener’s or maid’s salary may (or may not) be the responsibility of house sitters. Expectations such as these should be detailed in a written agreement between you and the homeowner. (You can download a basic template for such an agreement here.)
Lastly, having a house sitter means homeowners can know what’s going on back home. Before the homeowners leave, be sure you understand how they’d like you to keep in touch with them.
Should homeowners and house sitters have a written agreement?
In a word: “Yes”. A written agreement can be very useful to both the homeowner and the house sitter. Usually, responsibility for creating a written agreement falls to the homeowners since they can detail the responsibilities or the services they’re looking for. In our experience however, some homeowners have asked the house sitters to provide the agreement.
For your reference, HouseSitMexico offers a basic template House Sitting Agreement (which you can find here). It is not a “one size fits all” legal contract, nor is it intended to be. You should not consider it to be complete. It’s intended to just help you ‘get going’ on creating a written document that describes YOUR house sitting situation. No template can reflect the particulars of your specific situation, until you adapt it, add to it, edit it down and mold it until it becomes yours. Of course, you are encouraged to obtain whatever professional advice on this matter as you see fit.
What advice do you have creating my house sitter’s Profile and Ad?
Your Profile and Ad title are what homeowner’s will first see about you. They are essentially advertisement and resume as a house sitter, and they can connect you with the house sit you want to find. You’ll have a step-by-step form to fill out, which guides you, asking where and when you’d like to house sit, as well as for how long, and whether you want to (and have experience) in caring for a variety of animals. How you answer these questions will determine whether your Profile comes up in the search a homeowner conducts.
Beyond these defining preferences, you’ll have an opportunity to create a catchy heading and introduce yourself, indicating your experience as a house sitter as well. If you’re new to house sitting, be sure to mention any experience you’ve had in home care, including your own (particularly if you’ve been a home owner). Reliability and sincerity can be communicated in a variety of ways. Above all else, be honest and truthful.
At HouseSitMexico, it has been our conscious decision for our house sitters not to post letters of reference to the website. We just think some past homeowners would rather that the letter of reference they wrote, with its private contact information, not end up on the Internet. Therefore, we prefer to err on the side of privacy. (As HouseSitMexico continues to grow however, we’d like to add a feedback/review or rating system. If you have thoughts about that, please share them via our Contact Us link.)
Our current system will allow you to describe each of your written references (when and where you did the work, etc.) Especially for those new to house sitting, character references can be provided. Every reference you list must be verifiable, and should be provided to homeowners when they ask for them. We strongly encourage homeowners to check references.
What’s Private Messaging and why is it important?
The structure of our HouseSitMexico website allows both homeowners and house sitters to communicate through private messages. The idea is that you can correspond without providing your personal contact information, and you can do that in confidence. Only when both parties decide they want to be in direct contact, do they exchange phone numbers, Skype IDs, email address or other contact information. To do so is up to them.
Please respect our rule that no direct contact information, like your actual address, phone number or email address, may be shared in your Profile (nor may homeowners put such info in their online Assignment, nor in the Member Blog, nor anywhere else on HouseSitMexico.com).
Such information remains confidential and under your control. It’s up to you whether you want to share it with a prospective homeowner, after you have communicated with them through our messaging system.
How should I prepare for emergency situations as a house sitter?
From a suddenly broken water pipe to something as unforeseeable as earthquake damage, having a house sitter in residence means that emergency repairs, as well as regular maintenance, can be handled promptly, potentially limiting damage. That’s important for a homeowner’s peace of mind. What’s important is that when you take on the responsibility of a house sit, you gather information that will help you handle such events.
Be sure that the homeowners provide you with a list of local emergency contacts, and especially the phone number and email of a trusted friend who remains in town while they are away. Such a contact can provide on the spot advice as to how to handle unforeseen circumstances.
The emergency contacts list should also include a local doctor and ambulance service, and of course veterinary contacts for any pets. (To customize your own Emergency Contact List, click here.)
Mail, Phone and Messages…
To homeowners, having a house sitter means they can know what’s going on back home. Bills can be paid, messages relayed and mail taken care of. They might even request a “Skype visit” with their pets, and a visual check-in with their home. These things are all possible, only because they arranged to have a house sitter like you staying in their home while they are gone. These are all part of your job – and should be noted within the written agreement yo have with the homeowner. HouseSitMexico offers a basic template House Sitting Agreement (which you can find here). Homeowners usually take on the responsibility of creating the agreement, as they are the ones defining terms. Every situation is different however, and house sitters are often asked to draft the agreement, which the homeowner may then edit or add to.
Should I charge for house sitting?
While the vast majority of sitters do not charge, we know of professional house sitters in Mexico who regularly charge for their services. In some cases, these are people who maintain their own homes in Mexico, with the associated overhead expenses. Many choose to house sit to supplement their retirement income. Such house sitters are welcome to be members of HouseSitMexico, along with the great majority of members who do not charge for house sitting. What’s important is honesty and transparency about both the terms a house sitter seeks, and those offered by homeowners.
Should we have a written agreement with our homeowner?
Having a written agreement can be very useful to both the homeowner and the house sitter as an objective record of what the requirements are, and what responsibilities the house sitter is assuming. (An attorney can help arrange this.)
As a step to help you draft such a document, HouseSitMexico offers a basic template House Sitting Agreement (which you can find here). It is not intended to be a “one size fits all” legal contract, and you should not consider it to be complete. Rather, you’re invited to review, amend, adapt and use as you see fit. You can use it as a starting point from which you can create a document that reflects YOUR specific circumstances, your needs and the terms you and the homeowner have agreed to.
Will a homeowner contact my references?
Y-E-S!!! Typically your profile will include a list of written references you have in your possession. (If you have no house sitting references yet, you might provide a character reference instead.) Before choosing a house sitter, HouseSitMexico strongly advises homeowners to ask for these written references, which should each be verifiable as legitimate.
In the interest of protecting the privacy of the people who have written those references, we ask house sitters to provide their written references to you directly (rather than having them as part of their profile online). House sitters can send their references to you via our private messaging system or direct email with you.
Contacting references will validate the information you’ve given homeowners.
What about the interview process?
We’ve found that after emails have been exchanged, it is extremely valuable (and strongly recommended) to have a face-to-face interview via a service such as Skype or Apple’s FaceTime.
If having such an “internet interview” doesn’t suit you, then by all means use the telephone. At some time you should really make a “live” connection, beside your written communications (such as via private messages or email. Establishing good communication from the outset is important.
HouseSitMexico serves as a platform through which house sitters and homeowners seeking such services can contact each other. Like a “dating service”, it’s up to the individuals involved to communicate with each other and build a relationship if they choose to. As we’ve said before, the relationship of a house sitter and homeowner is based on trust. That trust should be built on both “personal chemistry” (including the information you’ve shared with each other through emails, an interview and other discussion) and verified third party information (references which the homeowner checks).
The Importance of a “WIN-WIN” approach
Our sense about house sitting is that the best house sitting experiences (for both homeowners and house sitters) happen when their arrangement has a sense of balance – not that it has to be an equally great “win” for each side. In real-life house sitting arrangements, it is common for one side to feel like they got a superior deal than the other. What’s important is that each side sees it as a “win” — whether a BIG, SUPER, or just a “win” – but always a win on each side.
Often it is the house sitters who can’t believe he, she or they have found such a terrific home to house sit – for free! Homeowners who come home to a happy, healthy pet (without having kennel bills to pay or friends to “pay back”) also appreciate their benefit.
What is it fair to ask a house sitter to do?
Is it fair for homeowners to ask house sitters to pay utilities while they are in residence? Is it fair for them to ask that the house sitter water the garden daily? Can homeowners include cleaning their horse’s stall in the job description? The short answer to these questions is “Yes”.
When homeowners create their Assignment, they are asked to be as thorough as they can be in their list of the tasks, expenses and responsibilities they want their house sitter to assume. If cleaning a horse stall is part of the job, that’s “the job”. If you don’t want a job that includes such a duty, then clearly this isn’t a job you want to apply for.
Any issues that are vague or that come up during the interview process can be negotiated. The final terms you agree to should be documented in your written agreement with the homeowner.
Why use a Private Messaging system?
When a homeowner posts an Assignment, they’ll receive inquiries through our HouseSitMexico messaging system. All members sending or receiving messages are only identified by their first names, with a link to their Member Profile. In this way, HouseSitMexico protects the privacy of all members. After you’ve communicated through our private system, you can decide when and if you are ready to share direct contact information (such as email, telephone or Skype address).
Any HouseSitMexico member (either homeowner or house sitter) known to have broken a firm house sitting agreement without good cause will lose the remaining portion of their membership in HouseSitMexico without a refund. Should the cancellation be unavoidable (such as a cancellation due to death or illness) contact should be made as quickly as possible. We advise house sitters not to buy tickets for their transportation until a firm agreement has been reached.