House-sitters do more than bring in the newspaper

July 24, 2013 

For many of us, summer is the ideal time to take extended trips. It also is the perfect time for burglars to go on the prowl for easy break-in opportunities where their activities won’t quickly be detected or reported.

Hiring a house-sitter to check in on your home while you’re away is a great way to ensure your property is well-cared for and secure in your absence. Many pet-sitters offer house-sitting services or a combined service for homeowners leaving their pets behind. Most professional house-sitters charge between $15 and $50 per visit, depending on the distance traveled, length of the visit, and duties required. Visits can range from as little as 20 or 30 minutes to staying in the house overnight.

Most house-sitters offer services to give the appearance of someone living in the home, such as bringing in mail, newspapers and packages; taking out the garbage; turning off and on different lights and opening and closing various window treatments. Many house-sitting professionals recommend homeowners take with them or secure any valuables, especially those that can’t be replaced, but otherwise make their homes appear as if they are still occupied by not covering furniture or canceling mail and newspapers.

Hiring a house-sitter can add a level of security to your home in more ways than one. Not tending to your home for an extended period of time could be a recipe for disaster, should an emergency occur.

Homeowners considering hiring a house-sitting professional should thoroughly check the person’s background, read reviews and check references, and ask for proof that they’re insured and bonded. Before heading out on your trip, be sure to provide the house-sitter with a list of emergency contacts and service providers, the names and phone numbers of anyone else who has access to the home and other pertinent information.

Angie Hicks is the founder of Angie’s List, a resource for local consumer reviews on everything from home repair to health care.

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