By Connie Adair

What do you give a client who has everything? What about peace of mind?

Having a reliable service to check on their home, whether they’re on vacation for a few days or several months, is an idea they’ll find invaluable. A home check service is also of benefit for agents who have estate sales (it’s about protecting a client’s home, which could be vacant for months before it is sold and the deal closes) or for properties owned by foreign investors.

Vacant or unattended homes are never a good thing where insurance companies are concerned. Not only does having a house check service alert the homeowner to property damage, it can help them avoid insurance claim denials by ensuring homes are checked on a regular basis, says Toronto Home Watch president Deena Friedman.

When checking a home, she says she starts by doing a perimeter check, which includes a check of the doors, windows and roof.

When she enters the home, she uses an app. Once she scans a QR code at the house, a checklist appears on her phone or tablet. It also lists specific information pertaining to each home.

“Nothing is on a piece of a paper that can get lost,” she says. “We’re accountable to homeowners and the insurance company. The app helps us keep track of when we were at the home.”

Interior checks include a visual scan for water damage and other signs of problems.

Before the homeowners leave, Friedman takes a photo of each room for reference and uses it for comparison when she tours a home. It’s also valuable in the event of a break in, so police can see what’s missing.

When choosing a home watch company, ask if they are members of the National Home Watch Association, which has 200 members in North America, she says.

Also ask for proof of insurance and bonding. Friedman has both a local police and RCMP check.

Toronto Home Watch also offers key holding and concierge services.

Friedman opened her Toronto-based company two years ago, much to the delight of people who have discovered her services. She says snowbirds are already booking her for next winter.

Kids, family members and neighbours may not be able to check the home regularly, so hiring a professional is a good alternative. “And if you’re going to be away for five or six months, it’s a big favour to ask them,” she says.

Toronto Home Watch prices start at $45 per check.


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