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Resting easy – Home service takes the worry out of being away

By   /   Friday, July 25th, 2008  /   Comments Off on Resting easy – Home service takes the worry out of being away

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Julie Steele and Shannon Trotta couldn’t have picked a better spot to start their company, Nest Assured.

Taking advantage of the largely affluent population on the South Coast, the business caters to clients who have second homes in the region or are frequent travelers. Called a home concierge service, Nest

Assured manages private homes while their owners are away, as well as prepares homes for their return.

“This area is nice because of the type of people that live here,” Steele said. “Being an upper echelon, affluent neighborhood, a lot of people that live here travel a lot or buy secondary homes.”

For homeowners that want the comfort of knowing their property is in good hands in their absence, Nest Assured offers a full-service alternative to “having a neighbor coming over and making sure the mail is collected,” Steele said.

Some of the services include bi-weekly home inspection, project management, mail collection and forwarding, maintaining indoor plants, checking irrigation and lighting systems, housekeeping and pool maintenance coordination, arranging dry cleaning, scheduling airport transportation, purchasing groceries for arrival, excursion and event planning and making dinner reservations.

Steele said Nest Assured services are available for homes between Goleta and Carpinteria, “but we’re not limiting ourselves.”

Each with 17 years of experience in their field, Trotta and Steele have lived in Santa Barbara for more than two decades and met while working at the Four Seasons Resort, The Biltmore.

With expertise in concierge services and event management, Steele helped to open the concierge services department for Sugar Bay Resort in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, in 1991. She began working for The Biltmore in Santa Barbara two years later. There, she spent 13 years gaining experience in organizing social and corporate events as associate director of catering and conference services.

Trotta brings her background as a personal assistant, event planner and estate manager to the business.

She spent five years as a personal assistant to individuals in the business and entertainment industry living in the Santa Barbara region, followed by seven years working in conference services and event management for The Four Seasons in Santa Barbara and Austin, Texas. She also has spent time managing estates and providing related services to homeowners in Santa Barbara.

“We thought we can do this as a team, ourselves, and provide a service that is really under-established in this town with the type of people here and the number of vacation homes that don’t have this available to them,” Steele told the Business Times.

“We decided there was a niche that hadn’t been tapped and decided to make it work for us.”

Santa Barbara-based Distinctive Real Estate, founded in 2001, offers similar concierge services to its clients in addition to assisting buyers and sellers in luxury home transactions. Owner Wendy Gragg said until Nest Assured, she was unaware of other companies like hers in the region.

She said the demand for home concierge services is growing.

“It is a concept I feel is fairly new to Santa Barbara, but with new buyers coming in to Santa Barbara and specifically the high-end luxury clientele, they find this service is very satisfying and really fits with their lifestyles,” Gragg said. “The last thing they want to deal with are minute details.”

While Nest Assured offers some home-care packages, it customizes its services based on each individual home and its owner’s needs. Clients are then charged a monthly services fee for regular care of their homes.

The Peace of Mind package is designed for frequent travelers or vacation homeowners, offering assistance in overseeing daily operations of the homes. The Welcome Home package includes arrival preparation for homeowners, like coordinating housecleaning and fresh linens, replenishing household supplies, car maintenance and fueling and outdoor entertaining preparation.

The 360-degree Home package allows Nest Assured to “be the eyes and ears in your absence,” the company said, encompassing features of both home care and arrival preparation.

Nest Assured launched its business earlier this year and has three clients so far.

The team has been targeting high-end residential real estate agents to share the company’s services with their customers, Steele said. As long-time Santa Barbara residents, Steele and Trotta are also counting on word-of-mouth advertising.

Finally, Nest Assured has also formed alliances with trade people in the region, building a list of “tried and true” resources to recommend to its clients and receive referrals in return.

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