Home Watch is a service offered to people who own multiple homes. It is very popular in areas that have a large percentage of seasonal residents like Florida, Arizona, California, North Carolina, South Carolina and many others with a heavy seasonal, and tourist, population. It was originally considered assistance by “Neighbors Doing Favors.” These were the individuals who lived in a community year-round and would offer a helping hand to their snowbird friends.
As it gained popularity, many started to take payment and promote Home Watch as a business. Unfortunately, these individuals often did not establish a business entity, get insurance coverage, or operate with an agreement or contract with their clients. They gained the name of “Hobby Home Watcher.”
This started to change around 2008 when Home Watch became more popular. The first trade organizations were launched as well as companies that offered professional training and consulting. The seasonal homeowners became better educated and learned to vet a business before handing over the keys to their investment property.
Home Watch is not a regulated business as of the writing of this article in 2018. Many companies state that they are Licensed, Insured, Bonded. There is no specific license for home watch and stating such is considered misleading. However, the homeowner should confirm that the Home Watch provider is properly insured, bonded, and expect to sign a contract that defines their responsibilities as well as those of the homeowner.
A vacant home is a vulnerable home. The homeowner needs to learn about the proper care of their home based on the Home Watcher’s knowledge of potentially damaging situations. There are now many trained, qualified, Home Watch Professionals operating excellent businesses. Their job is to conduct a systematic, comprehensive, visit of the home looking for any irregularities. A trained Home Watch Reporter knows how to recognize damage in the early stages before it becomes a disaster. They have resources to help remedy the situation.
There was a tipping point in the world of Home Watch in 2017 when Hurricane Irma hit South Florida. It was estimated that the storm caused at least $50 billion in damage, making Irma the costliest hurricane in Florida history, surpassing Hurricane Andrew. Many people did not have a Home Watch service or engaged a company that did not know how to prepare homes in advance of the storm or who were ill-prepared to help in the aftermath.
This event catapulted the awareness of the importance of working with a “Real Deal” Home Watch Company.
Home Watch is often confused with House Sitting, Home Inspection, and Property Management.
Home Watch is now a true, recognized, and respected profession. It is on the way to becoming an actual industry. Homeowners can find many resources to learn about the service as well as how to locate a qualified, credentialed, Home Watch Reporter.