UPDATED: March 15, 2020 |
When possible, I like to share some home watch insight with prospective and existing clients. The more informed my clients are, the less chance something will go wrong. The less things go wrong, the happier my clients will be. Happy Clients = Good Business!
I’m typically asked, “What frequency of home watch visits do you recommend?” Every client has different needs, expectations, and concerns regarding their seasonal home when they leave town for several months. I’m going to share with you 7 reasons why I recommend weekly home watch visits (inspections, checks, etc.) in an unoccupied or vacant home. You then can decide what works best for you.
Most home watch providers will offer weekly, every other week, or bi-weekly (some call it bi-monthly) home watch visits to their clients…all are acceptable. Some home watch providers will offer monthly home watch visits to their clients…this is not acceptable. Too much can go wrong in an unoccupied or vacant home in 30 days! The public is counting on us (home watch providers) to guide them in a manner that will minimize unnecessary damage or risk to their unoccupied or vacant homes.
7 REASONS WHY I RECOMMEND WEEKLY HOME WATCH VISITS:
- SMALL ISSUES BECOME BIG ISSUES: We all know that small issues become big issues when we don’t address them head on. As a homeowner, you rely on and hope that you properly closed down and secured your home prior to leaving town. Well, what happens when things occur that are out of your control? Let’s say the air conditioning system goes out during our hot and humid Florida summer months. How quickly will the relative humidity rise in your unoccupied home? We know that increased humidity is one of the main contributing factors for surface mold growth and blooms in an unoccupied home. If the air conditioning issue was discovered and addressed within 3 days of occurring rather than 14 days, would it make a difference? Yes…absolutely! Catching a small issue before it becomes a big issue can mean the difference between damage and disaster.
- WHEN IT HAPPENS TO YOU: Many people believe that if damage hasn’t happened in the past, chances are their home should be just fine. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. We’ve all heard the sayings, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong” and “It’s not a matter of if, but when”. I have several clients that I service their home on a weekly basis. Most of the time, all goes well and there are no visible abnormalities or areas of concern…until there is! I’ve walked into a first floor condo (for a weekly visit) and literally found a steady stream of water dripping from the ceiling onto the tile floor. I walked into another home (for a weekly visit) after a client recently departed and saw water flowing out of the house and down the driveway due to a cracked pipe. Both visits were for clients that hired us for a weekly service. Think about what would have happened if 2-weeks went by without us discovering the damage. The damage could have been exponential.
- INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS: Some homeowners insurance policies may have a clause in them that requires an unoccupied or vacant home to be checked on within a specified number of days. The clause can be a bit vague because it does not specify who needs to check the home. If your insurance policy states that your unoccupied or vacant home must be checked within 10 days and your home watch provider checks it every 2-weeks, then you need to change the frequency of visits to weekly. You do not want to have an insurance claim denied because your home was unoccupied for 14 consecutive days without being checked on. Also, many Florida homeowner policies have a Water Damage 14-Day Exclusion and homeowners have no clue it’s even in there. Which means if the water damage occurs in your unoccupied home and it was discovered to have occurred more than 14 days prior, then the claim would be denied. The insurance company sends out a water damage expert to assess the damage to gauge a time-frame of when the water damage occurred. It could have occurred from wind driven rain, a leaking water heater, or even a clogged A/C drain-line. The water damage expert’s job is to protect the insurance company’s interests. My suggestion is for you to contact your insurance agency/carrier and find out if such clauses exist in your policy.
- WRITE-OFF: Many clients of mine rent out their home or condo seasonally. It’s a great way to generate some additional income to cover costs associated with owning a second home (management fees, property taxes, utilities, and maintenance costs). I assist several clients with rental check-in and check-out walk throughs, etc. If you generate rental income from your Florida home, then you can write-off the expenses incurred for home watch services as a tax deduction. If you are able to write-off your home watch expenses, then you may as well utilize weekly visits. You’re essentially beefing up the safety of your home with little to no additional cost due to the tax benefit. Always seek the professional guidance from your CPA or accountant first.
- SERVICED FIRST: Each home watch provider runs their business uniquely. However, most companies give a “serviced first” perk to their weekly clients and my company does the same. I offer two frequencies for my home watch clients (weekly and twice a month). All clients are treated equally and offered the same service with the exception of emergencies and natural disasters. In those situations, my weekly clients are always placed at the top of the list. When Hurricane Irma made landfall in Southwest Florida back in September 2017, resources were stretched. The hurricane past through on a Sunday evening, Monday was the day to go out and assess damage at our own homes, and Tuesday was the first day to go out and assess damage at our clients’ homes. The first clients to be serviced were our weekly clients. A post storm check was completed for every weekly client’s home by the end of day Tuesday. All other clients were serviced as quickly as possible after that. Servicing my weekly clients first when an emergency or a natural disaster hits, is my small way of saying thank you for the constant and continued business provided to my company year round from those clients.
- TECHNOLOGY: Some prospective home watch clients feel that their Wi-Fi thermostat and video cameras are enough to get them by when they are away. While those are very good devices to utilize, they should never replace a trusted home watch professional from visiting your home to conduct a home watch inspection/check. Those devices are great if you have a temperature/humidity spike or if there is criminal activity at your home. However, those devices won’t know if a significant roof leak was to occur in your back bedroom ceiling. If the leak happened today, and we had several days of heavy summer rain, what kind of water damage would be sustained in 7 days or in 14 days? Again, this is another reason to utilize a weekly home watch service.
- WHAT IFS: No one wants to spend money on “what ifs”. Unfortunately, if you are not prepared for the “what ifs”, then you could be stuck with the “could haves, would haves, and should haves” after the fact. I view home watch as a necessity in an unoccupied or vacant home. It’s essentially like an insurance policy. No one likes to pay for insurance, but when something does go wrong, you are sooo glad you have it! If you truly stop and think about the kind of investment your Florida home is, then home watch is a no-brainer. If you are going to utilize home watch, then I would strongly encourage you to utilize a weekly home watch service.
- Don’t think that damage cannot happen in your home just because it hasn’t in the past.
- Call your insurance company and verify if there is a clause (mentioned above) in your homeowners insurance policy.
- Contact your home watch provider and ask to be serviced with weekly home watch visits/inspections.
If you enjoyed reading this blog and found it beneficial, please feel free to share it with others. – Carl
* Please note the information above are suggestions based on HWSE experiences. Each homeowner is encouraged to maintain their home as they see fit, based on their own experiences.