Trusted House Sitters – Buyer Beware!

Not Your Average Review

This is not your typical travel blog review of Trusted House Sitters platform – there are no affiliate links to be found. In fact, we are reluctant to endorse the Trusted House Sitters (THS) as a platform at this time.

The purpose of this review to educate potential THS subscribers (both home owners and House sitters) about the nature of the platform (from our perspective of course).

Humble Beginnings?

Started in November 2010 by Andy Peck and Rachel Martin. Being house sitters themselves, they focused on providing a comprehensive website tailored to their user’s needs. However, the website has grown rapidly in recent years and has gone through many system changes and updates.

On the positive side:

Their testimonial/reference collection system gives more credibility to sitters, as they collect testimonials direct from the referee, thus avoiding any censoring by the sitter. Sitters can respond to testimonials and give their own testimonials for the homeowner too.

Trusted House Sitters has a ranking system for sitter’s profiles. This ranking dictates on which page sitters profiles appear and is improved by uploading photos, video, and a criminal record check, as well as the number of references supplied (character, employment, landlord, and house/pet sitting).

Growing Pains

Trusted House Sitters has grown immensely over the years and now has over 50,000 registered sitters, which equates to lots of competition for the plum assignments.

Assignments are primarily in Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Europe and England, with a few in Asia, South and Central America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Africa.

Along with the growth has come some problems……

Enter the Corporate Suits

The founders Andy and Rachel stepped down from running the platform around 2019. The business is now being run by MBA types and their expansion effort is being funded by venture capitalists.

It is very evident that the new management is all about maximizing the earning potential of the platform in order to satisfy their investors. I believe this is being done (to a certain degree) at the expense of the paying members.

Gaming the System?

In my opinion THS is gaming the system for profit. This is done at the expense of the paying members being able to access to access ALL of the opportunity’s presented on the THS platform.

The problem is THS has too many potential house sitters chasing too few house sits. Especially the plum assignments.

Instead of creating more opportunities, THS has decided to manipulate the system to share its pool of house sit assignment among its blossoming contingent of sitters. A sitter who lands an assignment is more likely to renew their membership.

Annual Fee

The annual fee is usually the same for both sitters and owners with an option to purchase a combined plan.

They now have a three-tier membership structure. The basic membership starts at $129 USD and goes up to $259 USD for the Premium membership, which includes instant email alerts and cancellation insurance.

THS is the most expensive platform out there. Then again buying insurance comes with a price.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Good:

  1. It’s a popular site with homeowners – meaning lots of listings worldwide
  2. The site is good for inexperienced sitters who are willing to pay to get in the front of the line
  3. Easy and efficient system for adding references
  4. Ability to add video as part of profile
  5. Family friendly housesits identified to aid multi-generational sitters
  6. A verification system (for sitters) which includes ID Document cross checks and even criminal background checks
  7. Your profile is not limited to a specific word count
  8. 24/7 access to a Vet Advice Line where sitters can speak to qualified veterinary nurses for advice
  9. Insurance Backed Guarantee

The Bad:

  1. Homeowners have to pay to advertise, which can be a disincentive for placing ads
  2. There are over 50,000 registered sitters (lots of competition)
  3. Sitters are unable to include a link to a personal website on their profile
  1. The verification system is hard to complete for full time traveling sitters
  2. No verification system for owners, although sitters can give feedback
  3. Many users find the platform confusing and not user friendly. This is aggravated by regular changes/upgrades to the site meaning that users have to constantly adapt
  1. Most expensive house sitting platform out there
  2. THS markets house sitting as a free vacation

The Ugly:

  1. The tiered membership structure and capping applications has created a “Pay to Play” system
  2. Only those paying top dollar get instant alerts for unlimited saved searches
  3. THS appears to treating the paying subscribers as commodities
  4. Capping the number of applicants at 5 takes the choice away from the homeowner and potentially mismatches the skill set of the sitters and the requirements of the homeowner
  5. THS has been poor at communicating these changes to owners, and has not been forthcoming with respect to recent changes made on the platform
  6. As a sitter, you are penalized if you are not in the right time zone
  7. As a sitter, you are penalized if you don’t want to be on the platform 24/7
  8. As a sitter, you are penalized if you want to compete for a sit on a basis of merit
  9. As a homeowner you are potentially denied the best choice of sitters
  10. The platform potentially rewards house sitters who blast off applications to home owners without any due diligence or thought

Our Experience

My wife Yvonne and I have been housesitting globally fulltime since 2012 – a whole decade now! We have completed 86 assignments in 20 countries on 4 continents.

Our early experience with THS was great, through it we landed assignments in Belize, St Lucia, Grenada, St Kitts, Ecuador, Peru and multiple sits in British Columbia, Canada.

However, with the recent changes we are less than enthralled. If you want to know what I really think about THS you can read my rant The Machiavellian Housesit Platform?.

Our Opinion:

With all the recent changes particularly the ‘cap at 5 applicants’ successfully finding sits on this site is going to be easier if you have the top tier of membership. Primarily because it is only at this level that sitters can receive instant alerts for assignments in areas that they are interested in. Which of course gives them the opportunity to quickly apply and hopefully get into the first 5.

Note: the owners can remove this pause by declining unsuitable candidates, however it seems that many owners are unaware that their applications are being paused. THS has said that they are addressing this issue.

A large part of the house sitting community (both sitters and owners) have expressed their displeasure at these changes. However, management have decided they are going to stick with this system of capping applicants. At the time of writing the community are still letting their displeasure be known and hopefully a happy compromise can be reached.

With the recent changes made to the platform it is very unlikely we will personally renew our subscription going forward.

Our Recommendations: 

For Sitters

Trusted House Sitters can still be an option for new sitters, as they do have a lot of assignments worldwide. However, if you are looking for international sits particularly, you will do better if you opt for the top tier of membership and be prepared to quickly apply for sits that interest you.

This means that you will not have time to do your due diligence and research costs to get there etc, which is what we usually recommend. If you do apply, please do your research as soon as possible, so you are prepared if you are contacted by the homeowner.

For Homeowners

Beware! Know what you are paying for.

We and our fellow full-time sitters have recently spoken to many homeowners who use the THS platform. These homeowners were completely unaware that the number of applicants they have recently received had been capped at 5.

One home owner has even mentioned that she has recently given an assignment to a less than ideal sitter because she thought there was limited interest in her proposed house-sitting opportunity. Not that the sitters were incompetent – just not ideal candidates for the challenges of the property.

Save your money and advertise your sits on community-minded platforms (almost every other platform out there). 

 

 

Meet the Author

Michael Bauche

Being born under a wandering star, has meant Michael has spent his whole life either traveling or plotting his next adventure. At age 44 he escaped the rat race and now pursues his passions for travel, photography, Tai chi, and sampling the world’s cuisines.

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