Florida and Arizona

Both Florida and Arizona share something in common, the large numbers of seasonal residents.  The funny thing is many have residences in those states that get used as little as two weeks to at most six months of the year.  So think about it, those houses are unoccupied the majority of the year.

 What can happen in vacant homes?  I don't know a lot about Arizona issues but I do know what can happen in Florida.  Water is one of the most damaging elements in Florida, be it a flood, heavy rain, high humidity or plumbing leaks.  Any of this conditions can cause costly repairs if left unattended.  These conditions if remediated early can reduce the damage and cost significantly.  

A vacant homes condition needs to be reviewed preferably weekly, and no less infrequent than every two weeks.  A proper professional home watch review is best.  Professionals are trained to find issues early before they become disasters.  Training that your neighbor or local relative do not have.

Home watch should be considered a standard expense if you are going to be seasonal, another form of insurance.  In fact many homeowners policies require your vacant home have a home watch person.  Consider the value of a professional over a hobby home watcher.  Enjoy your time away, have the professional keep your seasonal home safe.

Seasonal People Appear To Be Very Frugal About Home Watch Visit Costs - Hoping To Save A Few Bucks

Everyone wants to know how much do you charge for home watch visits.

It will soon be that time of year when the seasonal people head back home from warm and sunny Naples.  Some will be researching for a new home watch person because they had some small negative experience.  Perhaps they never had home watch before and are calling because their insurance agent called and explained that it is required for coverage.  Others heard the horror stories of water damage and mold disasters from their friends and they want to be sure their home is checked on during the summer months.  This last fall was a wake-up call with Irma issues.

Is saving $20 to $60 a month worth it for the difference between an untrained home watch part time person and a trained full time professional?  Is it really about cost?

Think about it, a dinner out for two in Naples is going to run you $75-$100 with drinks at a restaurant that isn’t even high end, just a normal restaurant.  I’m not even talking about one on 5th Avenue.  But you will pay that cost several times in a month without thinking about it.

I know that many women spend over $200 every time they go get their hair done.

Try to spend less than $50 for a movie and snacks.

Where I’m going with all this is that price should be the last thing you consider ask when looking for a home watch provider.

Learn about the home watch person, what is their background, are they insured, bonded, and have references. Inquire about what they do when making a home monitoring visit and what they look for.  What is their most important tool? How will they communicate with you? How are the visits documented? What backup plan do they have to watch over your home if the home watch provider has an emergency, illness, or takes a vacation?

Get aquatinted with them.  Then hire the home watch professional that makes you feel the most comfortable.  This is the person who will be there for you to handle a small situation to large emergency.

Price is not the real issue, selecting the right professional is.

Ask all the important questions before asking about cost.  A good professional home watch person will charge from $35 to $45 per visit and it will be less on a monthly basis than one night out on the town versus the cost of an amateur home watcher.  Think about it.

Why Do You Need Someone To Look After Your Home When You Are Away?

Congratulations, on your new seasonal home, now you’re officially a snowbird.  Or maybe you’re taking an extended year long vacation, or being temporarily relocated for your work. Leaving your home unattended is not the best strategy.  For one thing your homeowners insurance may not cover a claim on a vacant house due to damage caused by storms, burst or leaking pipes, floods and other unforeseen events where small damage can quickly become a major costly problem if not addressed immediately. This information will help you know what to look out for when hiring a Home Watch company.


What To Look For When 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 when away.  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.

Performing some investigation 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.


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. Some of these hobby home watchers can be unskilled or not reliable. 


Members of an Association

Look for companies that have taken extra steps to be trained 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 local Naples Florida based organization called Your Home Watch Professionals also trains and evaluates Home Watch companies.


Proof of Home Visits And Communicate Problems

Look for a Home Watch company that uses 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 been at your home and provide the report, which will satisfy insurance requirements and give you peace of mind.


Additional 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, preparing for hurricanes, 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 prepared 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 will notify you of urgent issues, bring in the right contractors to fix problems with your permission and manage the process, and alert law enforcement if there are signs of a break-in or vandalism.


References and 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 responsive to deal with issues? Do they keep clients informed?

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 hired a professional that will allow peace of mind while you are away.

Home Watch Expectations - Seasonal Residents

Nothing is perfect and stuff happens all the time regardless of how careful we are.  The same is true with home watch, anything can happen to your home at any time so its impossible for any home watch company to completely protect your home when you are away.  We are there to observe and report to you the distant home owner.  What we offer is minimizing the damage by catching the issues early before they become a disaster.  The purpose of our service is scheduled observation and reporting which increases the chances of early detection before more costly damage can occur.

It is critical that your HVAC system is working properly to prevent mold and mildew from damaging your home.  Water leaks left undetected can have some serious implications.  I recommend the water being off when you are away to minimize the amount of water that could flow from a leak.

So please keep in mind anything can happen at anytime.  Let your home watch professional minimize the the things that do happen.  Make sure your home watch person is not a hobby home watcher, ask for training, insurance and bonding to protect yourself from the non professionals.

Relax and enjoy your time away.