How to Start a House Sitting Business
House sitting is a service offered to customers who are out of town or otherwise away from the home. House sitters may look after pets, plants, or just the home itself. House sitters help the community in a number of ways. They can ward off criminals by simply being in the house, and they keep cats and dogs from having to be put into kennels.
You may also be interested in additional side hustle ideas.
Learn how to start your own House Sitting Business and whether it is the right fit for you.
Ready to form your LLC? Check out the Top LLC Formation Services.
Start a house sitting business by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your House Sitting Business
- Form your House Sitting Business into a Legal Entity
- Register your House Sitting Business for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your House Sitting Business
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your House Sitting Business
- Get House Sitting Business Insurance
- Define your House Sitting Business Brand
- Create your House Sitting Business Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
We have put together this simple guide to starting your house sitting business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What will you name your business?
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our House Sitting Business Name Generator
If you operate a sole proprietorship, you might want to operate under a business name other than your own name. Visit our DBA guide to learn more.
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
What are the costs involved in opening a house sitting business?
House sitters have very few to no costs to open up their business. You may consider taking an animal training course to distinguish yourself amongst your competitors, but there’s no equipment to buy to get started.
What are the ongoing expenses for a house sitting business?
Thankfully, there are few ongoing expenses for a house sitter.
- Website costs
- Subscription service fees
- Pet supplies (e.g., treats, extra leashes, etc.)
- Gas/car maintenance fees
Who is the target market?
The target market are those who are on vacation or who are away from the home for an extended period of time. For example, people who live in Florida during the winter will need someone to check in on their home while they’re away. Many homeowners simply want to have movement and energy happening in their home. Any property that sits unattended will become a magnet for thieves—even if it's only for a few days.
How does a house sitting business make money?
House sitters make money by charging a flat fee for their services. Usually, they charge per day, with the amount depending on the time and effort the house sitter will have to expend to complete all duties. So, a homeowner who has a two Great Danes and a cat will be charged more than someone with one plant to water.
How much can you charge customers?
The average cost of a house sitter is about $40 a day, with overnight stays costing up to $75 a day. Again, what you charge is dependent on the duties the homeowner requires. If you only need to stop by once a day to feed a cat and clean its litter box, then you'll likely charge less than the standard rate.
How much profit can a house sitting business make?
While your business will likely boom around the holidays, house sitters can work on every day of the year. You would only need 5 clients at $37 a day to make about $170 a day.
How can you make your business more profitable?
House sitters may consider doing more of their work at their own home. For example, keeping several dogs when owners are out of town. This strategy cuts down on travel time, and allows more face time with people’s pets.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
The most common business structure types are the sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation.
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your house sitting business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
You can form an LLC yourself and pay only the minimal state LLC costs or hire one of the Best LLC Services for a small, additional fee.
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN through the IRS website. If you would like to learn more about EINs, read our article, What is an EIN?
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Open a business bank account
Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.
Get a business credit card
Getting a business credit card helps you:
- Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.
Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from Divvy and build your business credit quickly.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a house sitting businesses, Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
A house sitter may want to require customers to sign a services contract. This contract will help ensure customers are getting the service they expect and you are aware of your duties. Here is an example of such an agreement.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
FInd out what types of insurance your House Sitting Business needs and how much it will cost you by reading our guide Business Insurance for House Sitting Business.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
Recommended: Get a logo using Truic's free logo Generator no email or sign up required, or use a Premium Logo Maker.
If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.
How to promote & market a house sitting business
To get the word out, you can either start your own website and promote it through paid advertising, or you can do physical flyers at popular places around town (e.g., coffee shops, etc.) Or you can pay an online service such as House Sitters America that will help match you up to the right clients. This subscription service will cost you about $30 a year, but it gives you ways to easily search and find clients from around the world who may need your services.
Reviews are the first thing people look at when it comes to house sitter for obvious reasons. Regardless of where people can find you online, whether it’s on a subscription service, a review page, or your website, ensure that the reviews are all top-notch.
How to keep customers coming back
Customers will keep using you when they come back and find their home as good as or even better than how they left it. Your communication skills should also be impeccable so clients always know what's going on.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Recommended: Get started today using our recommended website builder or check out our review of the Best Website Builders.
Other popular website builders are: WordPress, WIX, Weebly, Squarespace, and Shopify.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Recommended Business Phone Service: Phone.com
Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
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Is this Business Right For You?
This business is good for those who want to maintain people’s homes while they’re away. Ideally, house sitters should be animal lovers who know how to take care of a variety of different types of dogs and cats.
House sitting can also be excellent for those who travel a lot, and don’t want to pay for a place to stay. However, travelers need to be prepared to put in some real effort if they wish to make this their side business. To succeed in house sitting, a person also needs to spend a good amount of time in the house.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a house sitting business?
House sitting duties vary depending on the client. Your schedule may include the following tasks.
- Feeding/walking pets
- Taking in the mail
- Sweeping/shoveling the walkway
- Watering plants
- Maintaining plumbing/pipes
- General home upkeep (e.g., dusting, etc.)
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful house sitting business?
Organizational skills will be extremely helpful for a house sitter, as will any type of formal animal training. Handling pets, especially unknown pets, can be an extremely risky job to take on. It takes a strong person (both mentally and physically) to do it right. Good house sitters also have to be extremely responsible. Ideally, they’ll have several backup plans in mind should Plan A fail.
What is the growth potential for a house sitting business?
The growth potential is good. This may be a competitive market, but it’s not as easy as it looks. People go out of town at every time of the year, so there's always a need for good house sitters. Those who prove themselves with excellent reviews and a loyal clientele will build up the trust they need to continue growing their client base.
Not sure if a house sitting business is right for you? Try our free Business Idea Generator and find your perfect idea.
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Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a house sitting business?
Reviews are always going to be a crucial part of any business, but this is particularly true for house sitters. You are who your clients say you are, so it’s important to impress them at the beginning. If you’re just getting started, use people you know as character references—preferably people outside your family.
Once you start getting clients, much of your job will be about doing your homework. Ask questions before the person goes out of town, and work out a plan for emergencies before they happen. Ensure you understand everything the homeowner expects of you, and don't be afraid to speak up if you think they've forgotten something. Research unknown areas where you’ll be staying, so you’re not thrown off by a detour sign or an unexpected rain storm.
Imagine you’re being watched at all times to avoid doing anything that a homeowner wouldn’t appreciate. Don’t teach their pets new (bad) habits while they’re away. Also, consider going the extra mile. Taking their pets to be groomed, restocking the fridge, or polishing their silver may not even take you very much time, but will certainly make you stand out.
How and when to build a team
You don’t necessarily need a team to house sit, though you can certainly consider hiring responsible employees should your client base grow. By building up your brand you may also be able to expand to other parts of your state/region.