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MindMyHouse News

MindMyHouse News April 2024

by Susan Holtham

Dear MindMyHousies,
welcome to our latest newsletter (April 2024) with all the recent updates we’ve been making to our site and our service. This good stuff happens (day by day) to improve your all-round user experience in our online global community of fun and adventure-seeking folk (of course!)

Kamala Harris (Vice President) makes a few extra bucks house sitting for the US President

Who said house sitting wasn’t for everybody? We think it is! And by way of proof (aka. spoof), we just spotted this rather amusing short article about a particular famous house sitter, which we wanted to share with you on the infamous parody news site TheOnion: 

Question: Can I bring my pet?

When applying for an upcoming house sitting assignment, some of our house sitters have their own animal friends to also think about. Do they leave them at home with a friend? Do they even get their own house sitter in to look after their loved ones? Or can they bring their own pets along with them to the house sitting assignment?

Some of our house sitters write to us here at MindMyHouse asking us these important questions. As you know, we leave the actual details of the house sitting assignment up to both parties (home owners and house sitters) to discuss and negotiate, believing that such a system works best and is the most flexible. But wouldn’t it be a good idea for home owners to at least indicate in their listings whether they were open to the idea?

Some of you thought that would be a good idea and wrote to us to suggest so. We agreed, and it’s now a thing. Home owners will see a new handy dandy checkbox on their ‘Edit my listing’ screen for this. Please feel into this idea and let your house sitting applicants know what your opinion is on hosting their personal animal buddies, in advance. 

In a few months, we also plan to add a ‘Can I bring my pet?’ filter to the search page for house sitters, so that you can specifically search for house sitting assignments where you can bring your (well behaved) pet. Cool aye? Techy note: we can’t add this straight away, as owners need time to update their listings, right?

Charging for home owner memberships (and why have one account area on MMH when you can have two?)

We’ve had our calloused hands on the tiller of MindMyHouse for quite a few years now (almost 20 years), and for all of that time, our home owner memberships have always been free. The reason we gave them away was to make as many house sitting assignments available as possible for our house sitter members’ collective joy and to build (and maintain) our global community of sitters and owners worldwide.

But giving away home owner memberships for free comes with a hidden cost (for us), and that is filtering out the occasional spammers and scammers. So far, we have been on top of this, and things have definitely improved since the early days. But in the age of better software scamming tools such as AI (Artificial Intelligence software), our job is definitely getting harder!

So, the time has come where we need some assistance in authenticating our (previously free) home owner memberships, and to that end, we will need to start charging for home owner accounts to help us combat this increase in nefarious behaviour.

Firstly, the good news! If you already have an approved home owner account with us, then it will continue to be free for life! Enjoy. We will only be charging for new home owner memberships.

Secondly, some more good news (you can’t blame us for trying to spin this): The cost of home owner memberships will be low, at US$29 (much lower than our competitors), and better still, we are now offering dual memberships for the same price as one membership. In other words, it will be US$29 for any type of account, whether it’s a house sitter account, a home owner account or both (we call these ‘dual’ memberships). We definitely think that taking out a dual account with MindMyHouse is most definitely worth the small fee of US$29. Why have one account area on our site when you can have two for the same price?

Instant approval for home owners’ ‘sitter wanted’ listings

The EXCELLENT NEWS for everybody is that as part of the changes already described, we will also be removing the 24 hour approval delay for our home owners’ ‘sitter wanted’ listings. Approvals will now be instant! (Unless we detect a problem with your listing, in which case, we might need to write to you to work out some of the details.) We will continue to do a manual check of your listings (we don’t believe in automation or AI for this), just to check that they are appropriate and meet our publishing guidelines. Please be assured that our usual quality control measures will still be in place, but we’re changing the order in which we do things…

House sitters: we will also add a ‘Report this listing’ button to all house sitting assignments, just in case something slips through our monitoring, so that we can catch any problematic assignments early. Also, if (god forbid) you are writing a negative testimonial, you can now send us a copy here at support by just ticking a checkbox, so that we can check it out. Phew and yay! As ever, our members are our second (and third) line of defence against any attempts at the nefarious mis-use of our service. So, please, keep up the good work. *salutes…

Two ‘sitter wanted’ listings could be better than one?

Continuing on the theme of what we’re calling ‘two-fers’ (two is better than one), we have some more good news for home owners. As soon as we can, our topmost priority is to allow home owner members to manage two (or more) ‘sitter wanted’ listings from their single account area on our site. Or put another way, home owners will be able to manage more than one confirmed and accepted set of house sitter/s at a time. Currently you can only select one house sitter(s) through our service, or have one active listing on our site at a time. As our home owner memberships were previously free, we had limited resources, but now that we are starting to charge for new home owner accounts, we have realised that we can now put in those 100s of man-hours to enhance your user experience of our service, pronto! So keep an eye out for this upcoming work, with the full reveal in our next edition of MindMyHouse News.

WorkaWays, WWOOFing and HelpX sites

Has the concept of working while house sitting taken off lately? We have certainly noticed an increase in home owners wanting to post house sitting assignments with more jobs required than the usual! These requirements seem to be beyond the traditional caretaker role, and are more along the lines of managing guests at an AirBnB, or, for example, minding a flock of sheep, which might otherwise be known as a ‘Farm Stay’. Other home owners seem to want to ‘exit right’ during the process of ‘the Reno’ on their home and have house sitters come and live in what could be a chaotic home with mess, noise and visiting trades. (Reno stands for renovation, in case you don’t know – we think that the glut of renovation TV shows may have something to do with this sudden upturn in this type of request.) Usually we don’t approve these listings, but as you can appreciate, you are a diverse bunch, with a whole range of tastes for adventure, and sometimes we realise that we are in the position of making decisions on your behalf as to what you might be interested in applying for, or finding out more about. We would love to hear what you have to say on this topic (please email us as we don’t use socials). It would be great to hear from the ‘yay-sayers’ on this topic as we’ve noticed over the past 19 years, that ‘nay-sayers’ seem to be much more motivated to write than those who are keen and curious to explore. So yes, your considered opinions here, please…

Bug fixes for maps

Ahhh, those pesky maps. In case you weren’t aware (most of you probably were), some of our ‘sitter wanted’ listing maps were incorrect. Sometimes it was the place name that was wrong, sometimes the icon was in the wrong spot. Sorry about that! The good news is that we’ve updated our code (again) and hopefully fixed the most common mistakes. And it wasn’t our fault this time – our third party mapping provider keeps changing how they do things, without letting us know!

Posted in: MindMyHouse News
Susan Holtham

About the author: Susan Holtham

The editor at MindMyHouse is a fun gal, intrepid traveller (in a former life), holder of three passports and enthusiastic house sitter. A book editor by trade, she did a three-year stint with Lonely Planet Publications at the start of her career. During her time at LP she shepherded many titles through the production process. Baaaa-aaaa-aaaaaa! Now that two gorgeous little girls call her mummy she's a very busy woman tending to their needs and to the occasional cries for help from among our 5000+ membership. No really, she's always keen to help!