Choosing the Right Home Watch Service
By Susan Robinson
Home watch services are becoming more prevalent in our area and as realtors and brokers you are sometimes asked to recommend such a service. Here are some questions you and your buyers should consider when choosing a reputable home watch service:
• How long have they been in business? This is a business that is really based on trust and reputation. How long a firm has been in business will signal that they are known in the community, that they have figured out how to make a living at this business and therefore won’t pack it up a year from now.
• Ask what kinds of associations they belong too. Again, if they are involved in the community they are known and as importantly, they have had a chance to build a rolodex of competent vendors and suppliers, a critical element in success in this business.
• Are they bonded and insured? This is vital and doesn’t need much of an explanation. No one should go into someone else’s property unless bonded and insured.
• How many people on staff and who will be going into the property? Do they have back-ups in case of emergencies, how do they handle vacations and unexpected time away (i.e. a death in the family?).
• Are they expected to be the first person on the alarm? If yes, are they prepared to respond to alarms in the middle of the night? Who responds if they are out of town?
• Do they use marked cars? If they have signs on the cars that signal that they watch homes for people who are away? Signs on the sides of cars only help the business advertise that the homeowner is away.
• Do they visit the home on the same day at the same time? This too could be a problem for someone stalking a home.
• How have they dealt with crisis? Homeowners will want to ask: “Give me two examples of crisis you have come across and how have you handled it?
• References: Always get and check references. Also ask the company for an example of someone who has been unhappy and why.
• Background and credit checks: Since this is an unregulated business background checks should be performed on companies who don’t have a reputation in town or haven’t build a reference base. Or, companies who have serious credit issues could pose a risk. And, the company should prove to you that they have done background checks on the people entering the homes.
• Are they able to work here? Make sure they have appropriate work papers if they are not US citizens.
• How often do they communicate back to the homeowner and by what method?
• Are they incorporated in the State of Florida? In other words are they a “real” business?
• How do they handle your keys and who has access to them and where are they kept and how are they numbered?
• What are their expectations of sub contractors
Susan Robinson and her husband started Key Concierge nearly 6 years ago because they needed a reputable home watch service themselves when they were here just part-time and couldn’t find such a service. So, when they moved to Sarasota permanently they started the company. Key Concierge provides peace of mind to home owners all over Sarasota and Manatee including Lakewood Ranch, The Oaks, Casey key to Anna Maria Island, Palmer Ranch, Laurel Oaks, downtown, University Park, Mote Ranch. They are an award winning company and can be reached at 941-388-2611 or through their website: www.keyconcierge.com.