30/01/2007 - 22:00

Angels sitting pretty

30/01/2007 - 22:00

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Western Australia’s economic boom has been good for Andrea Morgan’s business in many ways.

Angels sitting pretty

Western Australia’s economic boom has been good for Andrea Morgan’s business in many ways.

On any one night, the Angel Housesitters managing director has between 100 and 125 people looking after WA properties while their owners are away working or, more often, holidaying.

Ms Morgan says the service is a win-win situation for sitters and homeowners; the sitters save money by looking after other people’s homes, and homeowners can relax knowing they have a reliable person or couple caring for their homes and pets while they’re away.

“Housing is becoming so expensive, so we get a big cross section of people trying to secure permanent accommodation. People are also going away for longer and bookings of three to five months and 12 to 16 months are on the increase,” Ms Morgan told WA Business News.

The agency has helped hundreds of Western Australians priced out of the housing market to get back on their feet, including those ‘grey nomads’ who have sold their homes to travel in caravans.

“These people are in their late 50s to mid 60s and sold their homes two years ago to buy a van," Ms Morgan said.

“It’s so sad because they’ve come back and can’t afford to buy in Perth again,”

On the other side of the housing divide, the agency is fielding more inquiries from single mine workers, who are leaving their properties for months at a time to work in the state’s north and need someone to maintain gardens and look after pets.

Inquiries from newly divorced individuals are also on the rise, and make up 50 per cent of the sitters on the agency’s books.

Ms Morgan said the average cost of recruiting a sitter from her licensed agency was $1,400 a year, but the cost was much less than if homeowners hired a gardener and/or left their pets in boarding kennels or catteries for that period.

House-sitters pay a refundable bond of $250 or more to the agency, depending on their length of stay.

The business has been something of a seachange for Ms Morgan, who left a high-flying banking career of 10 years to set up Angel Housesitters from her home office in Mount Hawthorn.

Ms Morgan saw the popularity of house-sitting services in the US first hand, and so, on her return to Perth, bought the business name and now has two staff assisting her.

The investment seems to have paid off, with income reportedly doubling every year for four years and the number of people downloading sitter applications up 400 per cent.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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