Congratulations, you’re officially a snowbird! Or maybe you’re being temporarily relocated for work. Leaving your home unattended can be scary when you think about storms, burst pipes, floods and other unforeseen events where damage can quickly get worse if not attended to right away. We’ve put together this information together for you, so you know what to look out for when hiring a Home Watch company.
Hiring A Home Watch Company
Finding the best Home Watch company to care for your home while you’re away is one of the most important things you can do to protect your home from afar. A Home Watch company will visit your empty home on a regular basis to check for problems, report back to you, and help your home look more lived in.
Research is key to picking the best provider. You should do as much research on the businesses as possible before hiring a Home Watch company. Here are some of the most important things to look for.
Properly Insured and Bonded
A home watch company should carry at least $1 million in general liability insurance coverage. You should always ask for proof of insurance before you sign a contract. Home Watch is not yet a regulated industry so there are people who are running Home Watch services who are not insured and bonded which could turn into liability issues for you down the road.
Members of an Association
Look for companies that have taken extra steps to be certified or accredited in the Home Watch field. The National Home Watch Association provides accreditations to companies that meet high-level criteria of professionalism. The International Home Watch Alliance is another non-profit organization set up to help ensure a standard of care and professionalism for Home Watch companies. These organizations set standards and provide accreditation for Home Watch companies in the United States and Canada. A Naples-based organization called Your Home Watch Professionals also evaluates Home Watch companies and grants “affiliate” status to those who meet its requirements.
Prove Attendance & Communicate Problems Efficiently
Look for a Home Watch company that uses a reporting software to provide you with online reports after each visit so you can easily check the status of your property. This is an easy way to know they are doing the work they agreed to perform. A software which utilizes geofencing technology will provide hard evidence that a visit was made to your property. Date, time & GPS position of the reporter is captured at your property and this information can be integrated right into the report satisfying any requirements your insurance company might have.
A good Home Watch company will provide digital reports to you about their visits. A great Home Watch company will provide proof that they’ve attended and the report which will satisfy insurance requirements and give you peace of mind.
Additional Beneficial Services
Many home watch companies also offer additional services such as handyman work, preparing a home for the owner’s return, stocking the refrigerator before you return, putting up hurricane shutters, pet sitting or other tasks. See what their additional offerings are in case there are any additional services you could benefit from.
Also, check to be sure that if there should be problems at your house the company is poised to either help fix the problem or are connected to the right people to fix it while you are away. A professional home watch company should notify you of urgent issues, bring in the right contractors to fix problems and manage the process, and alert law enforcement if there are signs of a break-in or vandalism.
Great References and Online Reviews
Ask for and contact references. Check and see if their clients are happy with them. See if they provide the services they say they do and what experience they have with the company as problem solvers when issues arise. Are they prompt to deal with issues? Do they keep clients informed along the way?
Make sure to check out their online reviews on Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp or other online review services. That’s where you’ll get the most honest feedback about the company. People tend to leave more honest reviews on the internet. The reviews are usually less biased than the ones you might read on their website or other marketing material. You can get a good sense of the company by reading what their public reviews say about them.
Hiring a Home Watch company shouldn’t be done lightly. You’re going to trust one of your biggest investments to the company you select. Do your research and ask as many questions as you need to ensure that you have peace of mind while you are away.