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Passionate experience junkie. Lover of the arts and architecture. Want to see and share the world, one village at a time.

House Sitting Sites Evolved: A Review of Nomador.com

Immersion travel while house sitting

Lush and private back garden where we house sat for six weeks in Denmark

It has been six years since Conrad and I joyfully applied for our first house sitting assignment online. Back then in 2009, housecarers.com was the oldest and largest platform for matching up house sitters to homeowners.

Ian White of housecarers.com launched his innovative site in October 2000 and is still going strong. The format Ian came up with – homeowners post for free, house sitters pay an annual fee – is one many sites copied.

And I have to admit I’m comfortable with that traditional format. After all, we cut our teeth on it while our dreams became reality of living in other peoples’ homes around this great big world. Conrad and I have been successful, too, partly because we sussed-out early on how to operate within house sitting protocols – create a great profile, be one of the first ones to respond to a house sitting assignment, and make connections with the homeowner by mentioning personal details about their pets and home.

Housecarers.com continues to be a leader in house sitting match-up sites. So if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

Well, not exactly. Perhaps house sitting platforms can take some cues from the online world of everything-everywhere-anytime universe of stuff where savvy young entrepreneurs create a completely fresh way of doing things. Take Airbnb for instance. Airbnb’s reviewing system is a perfect self-policing method to discourage bad guys.

In my opinion, reviews are sorely needed on house sitting sites, too. Since house sitting is anti-bureaucratic and unregulated, reviews are the only power we have to keep an eye out for the occasional careless person – or worse. The numbers of new house sitters and homeowners is growing exponentially, and you know when that happens things tend to get messy. We need to take control of the mess by providing reviews.

In addition to house sitting platforms needing reviews, I have never understood the logic of having only house sitters pay a member fee on the match-up sites. With the even exchange created by house sitting – house sitters receive free lodging and homeowners gain peace of mind knowing their home and pets are looked after – why charge differently for house sitters vs. homeowners? It never made sense to me. Only Trustedhousesitters.com, which came along in 2010, charges a membership fee equal on both sides of the fence – homeowners and house sitters pay the same. So baby steps are happening in the right direction.

Now there is Nomador.com, which takes a leap into new times and in many directions. Launched in February 2014, this house sitting platform pushes at the status quo boundaries. All members – homeowners and house sitters alike – have equality in pricing, profiling, identity checks, and reviewing.

Yes, Nomador provides reviews. It’s a clever 2-step system with an effective badge rating process, plus the ability to leave a written recommendation. Everything about the site, and the clear-eyed philosophy behind it, feel timely and long overdue.

Here is the breakdown of Nomador’s traits:

Register

Mariannig Ferrari, founder of Nomador.com

Mariannig Ferrari, founder of Nomador.com

“When you register as a homeowner or house sitter, all are equal, all have the same rights,” says founder Mariannig Ferrari. As a matter of fact, when the site first went live in 2014, there was no distinction between the two. Nowhere did it say, “Find a house sitter,” or “Find a house sit.” The home page of Nomador simply said, “Join the community.” At the time Ferrari’s vision saw the two factions – homeowners and house sitters – as one, but she admits the public “may not have been ready for that.” The community philosophy is a strong one for Ferrari and so even when she changed the home page to help visitors click on either, “Find house sitters,” or “Become a house sitter,” the experience is practically identical for both. The membership price is the same. And by the way, everyone gets a free “discovery option” which gives open access to almost everything on the site, including three opportunities to apply to house sits at no cost. (There are exceptions to the free discovery option – expanded profile and search capabilities – but they do not inhibit anyone from going about the business of finding a house sitter or a house sitting assignment. More on Ferrari’s philosophy on that below.)

After registering on Nomador, both homeowners and sitters have their identity checked. This step is a good one, a necessary one, despite the fact that Ferrari says gathering the information from new members is a full-time job. A member’s trust index on their profile displays a number between 0 and 8, indicating how many checks have been made, such as driver’s license, home address and bank records. Even with the free “discovery option,” a house sitting member must have at least one identity check before opening up communication to a homeowner. (The homeowner does not need to have any identity check to respond.) It behooves all to have a high number for their trust index.

Ferrari said at first she received a bit of push-back from homeowners about having their identities checked in any part of the process. Homeowners felt that house sitters must be the ones deemed trustworthy. But as many house sitters know, trust must go both ways. So Ferrari’s membership equality is best in the long run, and the trust index number shows on all profiles – homeowners and house sitters.

Reviews

While talking with Ferrari, I was taken aback by her strong business approach to Nomador. She takes every aspect very seriously and it’s obvious to anyone who listens to her that every detail is well thought out. It’s refreshing, and reminds me of my earlier days of running a manufacturing company. I dealt with some pretty tough cookies – people who constantly made me evaluate my own processes and keep to a very high standard. Ferrari took 10 minutes to lay down all the details of Nomador’s review process.

“Because of my recruiting experience,” says Ferrari, “I knew that applicants can all start to look the same. They have been trained about how to write a perfect letter of introduction.”

Yes, it’s true. Letters of recommendation in any industry can start to look alike. We all choose people with whom we have faith will say laudatory things about us.

There are 22 possible attributes to choose from when reviewing

There are 22 possible attributes to choose from when reviewing

So Nomador uses a badge system. There are 22 possible badges to choose from when evaluating someone, (either a homeowner or house sitter.) Badges might indicate a homeowner is “House Proud,” or that a house sitter is “Careful and Tidy.”

For example, after and assignment is done, house sitters choose 3 badges to indicate good traits about a homeowner. The 3 badges that get chosen over and over again, indicating a homeowner’s best traits, are displayed on the homeowner’s profile. Say the homeowner’s top 3 badges are “Interested in Culture and Tourism in the Area,” “Friendly and Committed to Community Life,” and “Animal Lover.” If there are no badges for “House Proud,” or “Careful and Tidy,” then you may question how clean their house is.

A true picture emerges of who the homeowners are even though the badge evaluations are all positive. By omission, others can read between the lines. In this example, it’s possible the homeowner is not a clean person, because there are no displayed badges for that.

Badge reviews are displayed on all profiles, and the more times a person is evaluated, the clearer the picture of their top traits – and by omission, their not-so-great traits.

In addition to badge reviews, written recommendations may also be composed, further rounding-out a vision of the member.

Communication

A progress bar on house sit posts indicates the homeowner’s response rate. And when a recipient has read an email, a note displays, “Message Opened.”

Philosophy

I couldn’t end this review of Nomador without a few words on Ferrari’s sensible philosophy on member freedoms, insurance companies, and her world hope for house sitting.

In terms of member freedom, Ferrari holds a logical approach that bucks the “you-must-pay-to-play” mindset.

“I think that this is a scandal!” she says, referring to how a member no longer has access to their accounts, messaging, etc. when subscription is over. “If you have listed your home two years ago, and you want to access your account, you should be able to. You should be able to contact people to send them a new message to say, ‘We had a nice contact two years ago and my house is now available.’ On Nomador you can do that, of course. You are the owner of your own information.”

She then blew my socks off with a story she told of a conversation she had with her homeowner insurance agent. House sitters were due to arrive at her home and she wanted the agent to write an addendum to her policy stating the company would cover damages occurring while the house sitters were present. “Otherwise I’ll go find another insurance company,” she told the agent.

“We have to move the insurance companies,” Ferrari said matter-of-factly. I couldn’t agree more. House sitting isn’t going away and the insurance companies need to adjust. And let’s face it, having house sitters in your home while you’re away is a good thing for your insurance company, so the movement should not be difficult. Any issues, such as broken pipes for instance, are addressed immediately by house sitters, not three weeks later when you arrive to an empty home and the water damage is infinitely worse.

And finally, Mariannig Ferrari made her closing statement.

“We will do everything we can to make this community live. We hope to attract the people who recognize themselves in our spirit. My dream on a long-term basis is to help families, once they’ve met through house sitting, to create useful links for their youngsters. Creating international links through house sitting is one of the things that contributes to giving more chances to young people who need to find internships abroad, for instance. You’re more likely to send your child out into the world if you have links to someone in Australia or England. You see them with different eyes. It’s part of my passion in launching this community.”

I will continue to use several house sitting platforms, partly because house sits available on Nomador are still in the relatively low numbers, and partly because Conrad and I are comfortable and successful with the old format of say, HouseCarers and TrustedHouseSitters. But I do recognize myself in Nomador’s spirit – big time! The broad range of capabilities and logic of the site parallels my needs and wants very well.

When you click the “Register Now” banner, I earn a commission when you register as a member and participate in Nomador’s community.

Wishing you safe and happy travels always and all ways,
~Josie~
House sitting

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15 Responses to “House Sitting Sites Evolved: A Review of Nomador.com”

  1. Nomador.com has an interesting philosophy. I have not done any house sitting, but my husband and I have started to talk about the possibility. I have a cat allergy and that may limit our options. I will certainly look into Nomador if we decide to go the house-sitting route.
    Donna Janke recently posted..Canadian Museum for Human RightsMy Profile

    October 12, 2015 at 6:20 pm Reply
    • Hi Donna,
      Thanks for reading my article despite you not (yet) being a house sitter. Conrad’s cat allergy has been no hindrance to us having wonderful experiences! There are so many opportunities out there, and even though I shed a tear sometimes for not being able to apply to a gorgeous and romantic home in a perfect location — because they have cats — I have no complaints.
      Remember Nomador when you are ready!
      Wishing you safe and happy travels!
      ~Josie

      October 12, 2015 at 7:50 pm Reply
  2. I am so impressed with the thoughtful and fair-minded approach on Nomador. We, as you know, have worked with several of the big names in house sitting sites, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. Most lacking, however, is the opportunity to review a homeowner. While we’ve been fortunate with all our sits, this additional piece of mind is a critical element. Great article, Josie!
    Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru recently posted..Sigatoka Sand Dunes – Fiji’s First National ParkMy Profile

    October 13, 2015 at 1:49 am Reply
    • Hi Betsy,
      Thank you for your kind words about Nomador.
      Yay for reviews — they help all involved.
      Wishing you safe and happy travels,
      ~Josie

      October 13, 2015 at 8:06 am Reply
  3. Sounds like a great option for housesitters and homeowners. It can only get better as they increase their inventory. Seems like other companies will have to move towards reviews, too.
    Irene S. Levine recently posted..Sailing Seabourn in the Owner’s SuiteMy Profile

    October 13, 2015 at 9:13 am Reply
  4. Great tips. I’ve yet to convince my partner to get into house-sitting/sharing although we’ve taken advantage of Airbnb apartments and homes over the years. That may be explanation enough. Thanks though for putting Nomador.com on my radar should things change.
    Elaine J. Masters recently posted..Waking up in New Orleans – Whitney Hotel ReviewMy Profile

    October 13, 2015 at 5:03 pm Reply
    • You’re welcome Elaine!
      Yes, Airbnb is great — and as hosts ourselves, we see that Airbnb’s system works well from both sides.
      ~Josie

      October 14, 2015 at 10:22 am Reply
  5. This was a very thorough write-up and I like the approach of Nomador in terms of both sides rating the other and everyone having their identities verified. I’ve done some home exchanges and mulled house-sitting so if I do decide to do it I’ll remember Nomador and see if they have enough scale to provide a wide variety of options because I like the business philosophy.
    Kay Dougherty recently posted..Home Exchange – How do I get started?My Profile

    October 15, 2015 at 11:57 pm Reply
    • Hi Kay,
      I hope you do try house sitting as it is the best way to really get t o know a place, the locals, the customs, and grocery stores! I have learned a great deal about people by their neighborhood grocery store.
      Thanks for stopping by!
      ~Josie

      October 19, 2015 at 10:22 am Reply
  6. Hi Josie, We use Trusted Housesiters exclusively. We are happy with their service and I don’t want to pay more than one membership fee. As far as I can see both home owners and sitters pay the same price on that site. I’ve seen Nomador mentioned in a few places and really had no idea about it so thanks for the review!
    budget jan recently posted..The Church on the hill in Trebinje BiHMy Profile

    January 7, 2016 at 10:48 pm Reply
    • Hi Jan,
      Thanks for weighing in. THS does have a great deal of the market, it’s true! I’m hoping Nomador can gain a bit, because the reviewing system is a very good thing.
      ~Josie

      January 8, 2016 at 6:58 am Reply
  7. I use Nomador and I think they are great! I love the feature where you can review the home owner. SO many people forget that matters! Alot of weight is always put solely on if the house sitter is trustworthy, well what about the home owners. 🙂 We just received a two month house sit in Malaysia through Nomador and cant wait.

    Thanks for the post.

    Tiffany
    Tiffany recently posted..So you want to be a house sitter?My Profile

    January 26, 2016 at 7:31 pm Reply
    • Hi Tiffany,
      So glad you appreciate the rating system Nomador offers. Yes, it certainly is important.
      Happy house sitting!
      Josie

      January 27, 2016 at 7:36 am Reply
  8. I’ve never tried housesitting, partly because of the fees. Nomador does sound a whole lot better. I just looked and they didn’t have what I was looking for for the summer, but I’ll keep them in mind!
    Rachel Heller recently posted..Citizen of a Parallel WorldMy Profile

    February 7, 2016 at 1:15 pm Reply
    • Hi Rachel,
      Thanks for weighing in. And I hope you try house sitting to discover this low-cost way to really experience the world.
      ~Josie

      February 12, 2016 at 1:45 pm Reply

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