Arizona is home to thousands of snowbirds who migrate to escape the cold of their native towns. With all these temporary residents that means for most of the year, many homes around the Valley sit unoccupied. It takes a lot of work to maintain a home and with all these snowbirds out of town most of the year, who's left to take care of their homes?
That’s where All Good Home Watch comes in. It is a certified home watch business and whether you’re just on vacation or gone for six months, they can send someone to your home regularly to check for any possible issues, correct them and then send updates to the homeowner.
All Good Home Watch was started by Debbie Rochester, who moved to the Phoenix area about a year ago. They look after homes in Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Gold Canyon as well as the Encanterra and Johnson Ranch communities. Rochester became interested in the home watch business while visiting with family in Scottsdale. It was there that her aunt introduced her to a friend that does home watch.
“I just thought that was so interesting. So, I came home and I was able to call my aunt's friend and talk to her a little bit about it. I reached out to other home watch people, kind of met up with them, found out what it was about. I went online and found a couple organizations and I was trained under one of them and just kind of moved forward from there with opening the business,” Rochester said.
All Good Home Watch is a member of the National Home Watch Association as well as the Queen Creek Chamber of Commerce. Rochester was trained at the Home Watch Academy, which has been doing home watch training since 2008. The Home Watch Academy not only trains people on how to properly do a visual inspection of a home, but also how to get a home watch business started.
When going out of town for an extended period of time many people will ask a neighbor or a family member to check on their home, but Rochester said there’s a certain peace of mind that comes with knowing a trained professional is looking after your home. Not only do they know exactly what to look for, but you know they’ll show up each and every time and provide you with a full report.
“It's very, very important because…you want someone who's going to be professional. This is a job. They're going to be coming into your home every week, sending a report afterwards,” Rochester said. “…I take a picture of the front, I go and take pictures around, maybe of any consistent plants because it's surprising over time how slowly the plants may die, or that the irrigation system is not working and you don't notice it until you kind of flip through the pictures.”
Certified home watchers look for specific issues when checking over a house and they’re trained to fix and prevent potential disasters that could arise. Homeowners also know they can trust a home watcher to show up every time and on time for consistent updates on their home.
Along with basics such as making sure all doors are locked, home watchers are trained on a variety of things to look for and do to maintain the home. They check the vents and the A/C, they cycle the water, they bring packages and mail inside, they prevent bugs from getting inside along with much more.
“We're looking basically for visual damage that could turn into a disaster, so we are looking for the first signs, or even like a little bit of a leak, or if somebody's broken into the house, if there's been weather damage…that kind of stuff,” Rochester said. “Walking in, if somebody's A/C is off, or we're starting to see a little bit of a bug problem when people are gone…you know, cycling the water, we're looking at these water zones, the bathrooms, any outdoor kitchens, indoor kitchens. That's what our job is, to kind of keep an eye…”
Just having a presence around the home ever so often can be reassuring to neighbors as well as a deterrent to potential thieves. The last thing someone would want when they get back from a long trip is to have a bunch of bugs inside or to find out the power went out and all the food in the refrigerator went bad or, worst case, there had been a break-in.
“I actually had someone who was hesitant to use my service thinking they don't really need it, but they still used my service. In the third week, I went to go visit and their A/C was broken and could you imagine not having an A/C in 114-degree weather here?” Rochester said. “I can't even imagine like, their electricity goes out and then they come home months later and all that food has been sitting there…So those are those little things that people don't think about. Something's always going to come up, because even when you're home, things come up, imagine being gone for six months.”
Rochester said that more often than not there are small issues that need fixing, especially when it comes to the homes of snowbirds, who are about 80% of All Good Home Watch’s business. They’re gone half the year or more and in that timeframe there’s a handful of maintenance that a house regularly needs.
“It's these little peace-of-mind things that help people kind of exhale and rather than having like the uncle down the street go and check on the house, they don't have to bother the uncle, they know that someone's definitely going to be following through. And they're very appreciative of having those follow-up reports come every week and me just saying, it's attached, everything's all good," Rochester added.
If you’re headed out of town this summer or know a snowbird with an empty house and want to get in contact with Rochester and All Good Home Watch, you can reach them by phone at 480-764-6337 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find them online at allgoodhomewatch.com or facebook.com/allgoodhomewatch.