Trade Your House Through A Home Swap or Vacation Rental Service

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2012-01-1114

This house for trade!

There are a couple of ways that homeowners engage in home swaps. We’ll talk about both of these ideas.

How To Trade Your House In

The first method is to actually swap your home permanently for another residence. Sounds like an outrageous thought, but there are services that actually support these types of transactions. Earlier on, we talked about what you can do if your house won’t sell. Now that the real estate market has taken a breather from its once frenzied pace, selling a house may not be as effortless as it once was. But fear not, there’s another way to relocate these days. If you’re running out of ideas, maybe you can try this: go through a service that allows you to trade your house for another. Here’s a story I found on this subject.

The story tells us that there are now a few services that will help you unload your home in a more unconventional fashion. If you’re thinking of selling your house, and planning to buy a new place to live, well, why don’t you just take care of this whole situation in one fell swoop? There are a few websites that have been helping people perform house swaps, allowing homeowners to do direct real estate trades.

And if there are any discrepancies in the prices of homes, homeowners can just work out the differences on their own. I guess this is something people are now more open to trying out, given the longer wait involved in the whole buy and sell process. Plus, it can be one way to take the pain out of “mortgage juggling”.

home trade, home swap
Image from
Tip: For websites that help out with home swaps, try out Best House Swap, Go Swap and Online House Trading.

Would you be willing to try out this trading scheme? As an aside, another unusual way to unload a house is to use online auctions to buy and sell real estate.

Home Swapping For Profit & Travel

Performing a house trade doesn’t have to be so radical though. Just like you can buy and sell property, you can also rent. House exchanges are even more popular in the rental and vacation business, where you can work out a trade with another family who’d like to visit your area. You may decide to arrange for a house exchange with someone in Switzerland, for example. Both sets of homeowners would be able to save money this way.

These types of transactions can be pretty flexible though: while people are visiting your home, you don’t necessarily have to visit theirs. You can pick out a different destination to visit entirely, if that’s more convenient. If the time isn’t right for you to leave town, you can find a cheap local rental of your own. That way, you can generate an income from your listing. Let’s look at a few sites that support this type of market:

#1 is one site that invites people to swap homes. It was featured in the movie “The Holiday”, when two ladies traded homes to their mutual benefit. It claims to have more than 29,000 listings in more than 130 countries. Some states have thousands of listings, but others only have a handful. Like other services of this kind, there is an annual membership.

In their FAQ page, they make a distinction between two types of home exchanges — one involving a direct home swap that can take place when the time is right for both exchange partners, and another type called “hospitality exchange” that allows for exchange partners to host each other at different times.

To get you started, there’s a sample agreement; a guarantee that if you don’t find an exchange in the first year, you’ll get a second year free. There’s a resources section that can connect you with a number of travel assistance providers. There’s also free trip cancellation insurance for members.

#2 HomeAway

Maximize your rental income with

The terms “home exchange” or “home swap” can also be used loosely to refer to the concept of a “vacation rental”. As far as such networks go, HomeAway claims to have over 185,000 vacation rental listings.

Sites like this one usually cover both local and international destinations. Large vacation rental sites will showcase listings for Canada and Mexico, and destinations in the Caribbean. You can also check out locales elsewhere in the world, such as Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. If you’re looking to lease, then by using a home swap or vacation rental service, you’re more likely to live like the locals do — and you’ll enjoy the benefits of not having to tip a lot for room service.

If you’re interested in listing your property, you can sign up online. There’s an annual fee, but the site points out that it might be possible for you to recoup that expense with your first booking. You won’t have to pay extra booking fees to list your property.

For a few hundred dollars, the 12 Month Listing gives your home a lot of exposure on multiple sites. You’ll be able to have a dozen photos of your listing, and you’ll have access to tips and advice. The cost breaks down to less than $30 a month. You may want to determine if this cost is worth the exposure you’ll get online vs what you could receive from a classified ad in your local newspaper.

For a little bit more, their Featured Directories section will allow you to have your listing spotlighted for activities and features. For instance, if your home is near a great golf course or ski resort, potential visitors can find your listing when they look for “golf” or “ski”. There may also be special offers that can help you draw in last minute renters or attract vacationers who book early.

Helpful tools from HomeAway include text message inquiry alerts, guest reviews, and Google Maps. In addition, you can sign up to accept credit cards, gain the expertise of a tax professional, and download a free guide to learn more about renting out your vacation home.

#3 Vacation Rentals By Owner


Another such service that’s in this business is, which has been around since the mid-90s. They claim that each of their listings generate an average of 130 inquiries per year, and that their database contains over 160,000 entries. But be aware that this website looks to be a sister service to HomeAway, which we’ve mentioned above. These sites appear to be dedicated to one way rental transactions rather than to full fledged vacation home swaps such as

If you decide to list with VRBO, you’ll be able to access booking tools, an availability calendar and reviews, and you’ll get a chance to showcase your property best through a video tour, travel map and other personalization features. The downside here is that the annual subscription is at least three times more expensive than what Home Exchange charges (as of this writing; prices are subject to change). When you are dealing with sites in this niche or industry, what you pay is typically commensurate to the amount of exposure and marketing that you expect to receive.

A Few Reminders Before You List

Potential swappers should be aware of fees and privacy concerns. You might end up paying more than you expect if you don’t read the terms and conditions closely, or you might find yourself on a telemarketer’s calling list. When in doubt, read the fine print and contact the home swapping service with your concerns.

Keep communication lines open and ask the homeowner you’re working with any questions that you may have. That way, you’ll gain a better understanding of what their home is like (and in the case of a vacation home rental, you can also be informed of any household rules). This can also help to clarify your own guidelines for your own property. Of course, if you’re planning to own a home via a trade, you can expect to do a lot more legwork since you’re putting in the effort and time involved in buying and selling property into a more condensed and accelerated transaction.

Created April 16, 2009. Updated January 11, 2012. Copyright © 2012 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

MoneyEnergy April 16, 2009 at 10:50 pm

That’s pretty amazing…. never even heard of official home-swaps, although I’ve heard of doing it for vacation purposes. The world is amazing…:) This adds a whole new layer of lifestyle options!

Anthony April 17, 2009 at 1:42 am

I don’t think I can. But if it works for others, good for them.

Kyle April 17, 2009 at 5:06 am

I like the idea of the house swap. These are the kinds of things that come up when the economy gets bad. People start going back to the barter system and make their own sub economies.

Miss M April 17, 2009 at 6:00 am

The market for this seems really limited. First you need two people who each want to live in the other’s city and neighborhood and want to move at the same time. Then they also have to want exactly what the other house offers, it seems to me this would be a tiny fraction of the market. I’d say the odds of finding a swapper are slim.

Tracie April 17, 2009 at 8:04 am

Sure, I have heard of this being done for vacationing families and such but had not considered the idea of a permanent home swap. It just might work for those that really need/want to relocate.

Silicon Valley Blogger April 17, 2009 at 9:13 am

Miss M,

What I noticed from listings is that homeowners who list their homes are actually much more flexible than I thought they’d be. Many of them would move anywhere (if you check some of the listings) and also, the homes don’t have to be the exact size. Many want to downsize and when two homeowners get involved, they work out the differences somehow — the one who upgrades makes up the difference in cash (or may take out a mortgage). I can see how it can work….

GeekMBA360 April 17, 2009 at 9:49 am

I think the permanent home exchange via a trade is an interesting idea, and could potentially save people thousands of dollars. I checked a few house swapping sites. The problem is that they all have limited inventories. So, I’ve very limited options for trading. For this business model to work, there needs to be a large number of trading options. It’d be interesting to see how the house swapping sites will solve this problem.

Moneymonk April 17, 2009 at 11:13 am

I would never trade my house, I am proud of my home and it is my foundation.

Manshu April 17, 2009 at 5:55 pm

Hmmm, this is very interesting, i don’t own a house, but if I did, I’d probably be willing to swap it, if I get a good deal.

Rich Johnson May 27, 2009 at 2:20 pm

Wow, it would seem that the road would be full of pit falls here. I’d recommend that anyone considering this would have it looked over by a real estate attorney who specializes in this type of transaction. This is truly outside the capability of a real estate licensee.

HomeSwapper June 27, 2009 at 3:13 pm

This process of moving homes with a mutual swapper has been active in the UK for many years now within the social housing sector. Which was originally known as a mutual council exchange, council exchange or council house exchangse.

The term now is generally known as a home swap. Yes there are pit falls but just like any situation in life there are two sides to any coin.

DavidLeeman September 5, 2010 at 11:54 pm

Good information to know about! I would love to find someone to swap my house with. I’m going to check out your resources on swapping homes. Although selling a home in the current market is difficult, it is possible to change locations through this process.

Anyone heard of World Wide Referrals ? They will help you to get a more profitable deal for you to sell your house. They do all the work! No more interviewing real estate agents to determine who can get the job done. It uses a very good global network of nearly 700 premier real estate firms with 5,000 offices and 150,000 sales associates in 35 countries around the world.

Jeff Crews January 14, 2012 at 11:38 pm

What an interesting option in today’s housing market. Do you know the satisfaction statistics for these types of trades?

Silicon Valley Blogger January 15, 2012 at 2:16 am

I don’t have that information but you piqued my interest. That’s a good question. I’ll try to find out.

Leave a Comment