If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that side gigs aren’t going anywhere. From the delivery of groceries to online tutoring and support at school, there are many sideline jobs that will continue to be in demand in our world after the pandemic.
But another side gig that we have to wonder about is home sitting, or more precisely, condo sitting. After all, what will happen to all of those empty summer condos when the snowbirds finally return north?
People may consider Florida and Arizona the home of seasonal condominiums, but part-time residents can be found in many southern states, particularly on the Georgia and South Carolina coasts. And where do Florida retirees flee to when it’s too hot in the Sunshine State? Mostly the mountains of North Carolina. Someone needs to watch their NC condos when they return to Florida.
Condo sitting promises a lot to be the next big side gig, so we spoke to some experts to find out all the details. Here is everything you need to know to start your own condominium side business.
What is condo sitting?
Similar to a house sitter, the responsibilities of a condo sitter can vary widely. For some owners, sitting in a condominium simply means checking their apartment, dropping in mail or, more likely, packages since so many have kept or diverted mail to a different address, and water the plants.
For others, it can also include a pet care service if someone is only away for a short time, or even help with a service call in case something goes wrong while the owners are away.
After leaving a car, they may want you to start it occasionally to keep the battery working. In states where hurricanes are threatened, owners can hire you to turn off storm shutters or bring patio furniture and plants. (You could leave the shutters closed for the entire time they’re gone, but that can create its own problems if there’s a moisture problem: mold loves the dark.)
“Condo-sitting is primarily a service where owners pay someone to keep their condo clean and tidy while they are away,” says Property Cashin real estate expert Marina Vaamonda. “They may also need someone to oversee a project like plumbing fix when they can’t physically go to the appointment.”
Because many people use their condos on a seasonal basis, they may not need condo sitting service for months and then suddenly need help several days in a row. This is where it helps to have some flexibility in your schedule if you plan to sit in condos on a regular basis – especially if you are just starting to build your customer base. How Much Can Condo Sitters Really Make? We’ll get into that next.
How Much Can You Do Condo-Sitting?
Sitting in condominiums is definitely one of the more lucrative sideline activities, as prices vary greatly depending on the location and time spent in the property. According to Housesitter.com, most house sitters set their starting prices between $ 25 and $ 45 per day, with nightly rates going up to at least $ 50. According to Thumbtack’s gig economy experts, the average cost of a 30-minute pet care visit is $ 25, while overnight pet care costs $ 75 to $ 85.
As you can see, these prices vary significantly – especially depending on where you live and what involves monitoring each owner’s property. Remember, a full day or overnight stay in a client’s home probably doesn’t mean you’ll be working all the time.
For example, you might find that some owners only want someone in their home at night or for a few hours a day – either for safety, to look after a pet, or both. Depending on the type of inquiries you receive, you should plan to charge different tariffs for different types of jobs. There are many clever ways to maximize your condo sitter income. Here are a few more to consider.
How to Maximize Your Income
As with any other side business, you want to be sure that the time you invest is worth it. Here are some ways to ensure you get as much as you want as a condo sitter.
Promote your services
To start your customer base, you should promote your services. This can mean hanging flyers around the condos you are targeting, or even talking to condo owners and asking them to spread the word. Just make sure you have the Condo Manager’s permission before you begin (we’ll get into that later).
Set your prices
Before talking to an individual customer, it is a good idea to decide how much you want to bill. This can be more difficult in hindsight, especially when you start talking to people. Think of a tariff scale that you want to calculate. Start with a flat fee for the basic services provided and then tackle add-ons like pet services or accommodation fees. Doing this can give your business credibility and avoid your tariffs from being negotiated.
Offer offers & discounts
A great way to get first-time customers interested in your services is to offer them a new customer discount. Everyone loves a deal, and sometimes it can be worth saving a few dollars to take the risk of hiring someone new. Just make sure that the discount you set does not significantly affect your working hours.
Ask people to leave you honest reviews
If you’ve had some customers, ask them to give you an honest testimonial about their experience. If you don’t already have a website or online presence promoting your business, that’s fine. Just have these testimonials sent by email. Once you’ve gathered some of these, you can reuse these statements on flyers or on a website and they will help you attract future customers.
Join an organization
If you’re having trouble finding customers, you can join an organization. Sites like Thumbtack, TaskRabbit, and Housesitter.com offer people like you a quick way to start looking after their home or pet. While it’s true that these sites are often taking a toll on your income, it can also be a great way to get experience (and get those testimonials) before setting out on your own.
Things to Know Before You Begin
In contrast to sitting at home, sitting in condominiums takes a little more effort to be aware of. For starters, you should ask your customers to contact the Condo Manager to get on the list of authorized visitors.
“If someone wants to get into the condominium business, they have to get the condominium owner to register with the housing company as someone who can stay in the unit, enter and use the building,” says Sep Niakan. Founder and Managing Broker of Blackbook Properties. “This means that the person doing the condo-sitting should expect a background check to be done, along with an application that can be a little intrusive at times.”
Niakan says that on some temporary appearances, condominiums may allow owners to register the home sitter as a guest, but this may also come with certain restrictions on access to public areas and amenities. Typically, you want to be sure that the people who run the condos know who you are and aren’t surprised to see you.
You should also check with them before posting flyers or reaching out to other residents to promote your services. While condo guidelines vary widely from place to place, it’s good to ask your customers what the safety and rules are, and then make sure your name is on the correct lists so you don’t run into any problems.
Another thing to consider when starting your condo sitting side gig is the competition. “We see a lot of part-time residents, many of whom are snowbirds and use condominiums,” says Niakan. “But sometimes they also use management companies. So a condo-sitter needs to understand what a property management company is doing so they can do better.”
If your clients have worked with property management companies before, be sure to ask them about their experience. Anything you can do better as an individual will help you attract more customers and ensure that you always have a creative edge over the competition.
The last word
Condo sitting is a lucrative sideline for anyone who wants to take the time to learn more about it. Start by finding some condos in your zip code that may need additional upkeep or seasonal services. Then set your prices and start promoting your services. Remember, you might do well to work with a company first rather than going into your own business. But once you’ve built your business, condo sitting has great potential to be a rewarding sideline that can help advance your future financial goals.
Larissa Runkle specializes in finance, real estate and lifestyle topics. She writes regularly for The Penny Hoarder.