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High Country serves full and part-time locals

SKYLER BELL, Of the Record staff

Most people in Park City have been a house sitter as a favor for a friend or relative, but some are good enough to do it as an occupation.

Linda Hoffman, owner of High Country Home Concierge, served as house sitter for her in-laws, who use their residence in Park City as a second home.

"My in-laws have a second home up here and ever since we’ve lived here we’ve been taking care of their place," Hoffman said. "One day my mother-in-law told me that since I did such a great job I should offer it to the public. I thought about it and decided I might be able to make it work."

Hoffman opened her business in April, and has relied mainly on word-of-mouth advertising, especially through realtors, to get the news out.

"It’s going okay. I have three clients that I work with, but I’d like to get it up to about 20," she said. "But I think it’s been pretty positive so far. I’ve had a lot of people calling and E-mailing. I also joined the Chamber and the Board of Realtors."

Although she does "just about anything," Hoffman’s focus is on serving part-time residents who, like her in-laws, have a second or third home in Park City.

"My slogan line is ‘Second Home Care Managers,’" she said. "It’s just making sure people don’t have to worry about their second home when they’re not here. When they know they’re going to come into town, they can leave me a grocery list and I make sure their cupboards are full when they come home. I can do whatever they need."

Hoffman said the seasons each present separate problems. Theft is always a concern, but the summer months focus more on flooding, while the winter months focus on snow, ice and freezing problems.

"During the summer, the flooding or leaking pipes and hoses are a big concern," Hoffman said. "I have to make sure basements don’t flood. With all the snow run-off, that happens a lot. During the winter I have to make sure there’s not too much snow buildup that can harm parts of the home, and make sure pipes don’t freeze."

"We go through the house and make sure everything is well and that there are no broken pipes or leaks. If there are, we fix them."

Hoffman said she knows of several people who have come back to their second home to find their basement has been flooded for six months.

Not only does High Country Home Concierge serve part-time residents, but it provides many services that tailor to the needs of full-time residents as well.

"We also do house sitting, which can include feeding and walking pets, getting the mail, paying bills and house cleaning for full-time residents," she said. "When residents are going on vacation I can close the house for them. I take out all perishable items, turn down the water heater, clean, check the locks, make sure all the appliances are off, take the garbage out, and things like that."

A routine home care visit consists of walking the perimeter of the home and inspecting for problems, then entering the home and doing the same inside. She checks the furnace, flushes the toilets, turns lights on and off, feeds and walks any pets, and does anything else needed. She also can set up appointments and supervise any work needing to be done on the home (cable, construction, pool cleaning, etc).

Although her business might sound like a property management company, Hoffman said High Country Home Concierge is different.

"People say we’re similar to property management companies, but we’re much more personal and one-on-one, so I don’t consider myself a property management company," she said. "I’m the one going into their homes, I’m the one who answers the phone if they call, I’m the one returning the E-mails."

Hoffman, who grew up in Salem, Ore., said that having a husband in the plumbing business has helped with knowing how to recognize and fix problems. The company her husband works for transferred him to Park City from Texas, a change Hoffman described as "different, but welcome."

Since they moved to Park City, Hoffman has become acquainted with many other business owners in the area. Stephanie Fuqua, co-owner of Rainbow International, is a friend and client of Hoffman.

"I’m a local who users her," Fuqua said. "When I go out of town she’ll give me a ride to the airport, get the mail, watch the dogs, put gas in the car, stuff like that. I use her for a lot of stuff and she is awesome. She cleans and she prepares meals and grocery shops."

Fuqua said Hoffman’s business is different than other companies because of the personal touches.

"I work with a lot of larger property managers, but for me, locally, I don’t think they would want to do the things she does three or four times a year," Fuqua said. "I’m just not a big enough account for the bigger companies."

Hoffman charges $100 per month for a once weekly check for part-time residents. Other services, like shopping and cleaning, are charged hourly.

Hoffman and High Country Home Concierge can be reached at (435) 649-8145.


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