An Ounce of Prevention...
Many people ask professional home watch service providers about the cost of our home watch services. It’s understandable, particularly for those on a fixed income and for those who haven’t thought about what the relatively small monthly cost can and will save. Remember the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? In this blog article, we’ll help you consider the costs and the cost-benefit potential of the home watch services we provide.
Before we jump in however, we want to be clear that our home watch services are designed around three important things:
- Peace of mind
- Preventing major costs where and whenever possible
- Leveraging savings
What is Home Watch?
According to the National Home Watch Association, a professional association of hundreds of home watch companies such as Point to Point throughout the U.S. and Canada:
“Home Watch is known by many names: house watch, house check, home concierge, caretaker, absentee home service, property watch, and so on. Regardless of the name, a Home Watch service performs scheduled inspections of “vacant” properties while the owner is away. The National Home Watch Association describes Home Watch as “a visual inspection of a home or property looking for obvious issues.”
These inspections include a basic check of plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems, as well as the overall condition of the home and property. Home Watch inspectors look at the house or condominium with a trained eye, making sure that everything is satisfactory. They look for leaks, pests and mold, all of which can be present in homes left alone for even the shortest interval.
Should the inspector find an issue or potential problem, they will immediately notify the homeowner. From there, the issue can be resolved by either the Home Watch service itself, or the homeowner will instruct the Home Watch service on how they want to proceed. By removing junk mail and flyers and creating a presence in the home, Home Watch adds a level of security to the vacant home. Home Watch is the line of communication to the homeowner that provides peace of mind during their absence.”
About Your Good Neighbor
Although you could get peace of mind by having a trusted neighbor check on your property, you’re missing out on at least two critical things: expertise and insurance. We provide both in all that we do so that you don’t have to worry about your neighbor falling on your steps or missing something critical and obvious that could cost you thousands, much less asking too much of your neighbors.
Now let’s talk cost-benefit. We’ll share some data, some hypotheticals and some actual stories from some of our home watch customers. Their stories speak volumes about the value of the service.
As of November 2018, our most comprehensive home watch plan with inspections conducted every single week of the month in each
month of the year is about $65 per inspection. In case you’re wondering, a proper and comprehensive home watch visit takes approximately 45-60 minutes from start to finish, not including travel time to your home. These costs don’t reflect discounts available or any additional services that you might choose to add-on at any point.
Your Trip Costs
Let’s begin with the basics…. if you’re like we were when we owned a second home in the Northern Neck, we would routinely make trips to the house just to “check on it.” Each trip for us from Northern Virginia was about 2 hours and 30 minutes, one-way, or about 274 miles round trip. Using the IRS’ standard mileage rate for 2018, that comes to $149.33 in mileage costs alone for a single round trip. This, of course, doesn’t even take into consideration the cost of your time. By this measure alone, a single trip to check on your home might just cost you about what it would cost to have a professional conduct a comprehensive home watch visit of your property nearly every week.
Just imagine if you had to make multiple trips to check on your home or meet a service provider and wait for them to complete work while at your home over the year. Your costs add up and not to mention taking you away from something else you’d rather be doing with your time or need to be doing with your time than driving back and forth.
Leveraging Our Add-On Services
Now let’s assume that you’re in need of a regular service on your home, such as house cleaning or maintenance of your landscaping. There are some outstanding local people who provide those services but included in their fees is the trip to your home as well as the time there conducting the service. By adding on services to your home watch subscription, you save the trip fee in most cases because we’re already at your home conducting a home watch visit. By saving the trip fees associated with another service business, we estimate that you could save anywhere from $20 to $75 per trip. Example A: Home watch customer has gutters that are clogged with debris. The local service provider is quoting 2-4 weeks wait time and a minimum of $200 to come out. We're able to provide the service for about $100 total while onsite for this customer, saving the homeowner a minimum of $100. Example B: Home watch customer with a 4-bedroom, 4 bath home would like to add house cleaning to the home watch visits. Local service providers would quote anywhere from $120 to $145 per cleaning. We are able to quote this service at under $100 per cleaning for this customer because we are already in the home performing the professional home watch service, saving this customer $30 to $55 every cleaning.
Weekdays vs Weekends
Getting away during the week to make the trip to the Northern Neck is hard for many. But, many local service providers don’t work on the weekends or are hard to schedule for that coveted time, including HVAC services, deliveries, other repair persons, etc. Your time away from work has an impact and that’s not how you want to spend your vacation time. We can save you additional time and costs by handling these visits for you and in some cases, we can schedule our home watch visits at the same time as other service provider appointments.
Bigger Savings Possible
Just imagine the costs involved with a leak that goes undetected for weeks at a time (trust us, we know) or possibly worse, allowing someone to take advantage of a vacant home. In 2017, seasonal homes were targeted in one area of our county for burglaries, to the point that the Sheriffs’ Office recommended that out of town owners come to check on their homes. One of the features of our home watch services involves randomly scheduled repeat visits to the home and other steps to make it more difficult to identify a home that has no visitors or occupants over a period of time. With the average value of property stolen during burglaries in Virginia in 2017 at $1859 per burglary, it’s worth the prevention effort. (Stat Source: Virginia State Police)
Worthy of Note
Finally, second home owners may notice that some insurance companies will charge a premium if a home is vacant for any significant period of time. If you fall into this category, it may be worth asking your insurance company for some relief if you’re using a home watch service with regular visits. Additionally, second home owners who own their homes as income-generating or investment properties may wish to consult a tax advisor about the deductibility of home watch services, including our vacation rental assistance add-on services.
How We Differ
We mentioned expertise and insurance earlier. We've been second home owners for more than a decade and bring the combined experience of the real estate, property management and security to everything we do. In addition to being a professional and accredited home watch services company with a large rolodex of trusted local partners who can get things done when needed. Every member of our team has an annual background check with results available to you, we wear body cams to record our visits and we're a fully insured and bonded company. We are the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula's only professional and accredited home watch services company.