Choosing a Home Exchange Network: Opinions from active house swappers

This post is a consolidation of all the useful comments from readers about home exchange networks. (Thanks to a reader for this suggestion!) There are lots of house swap networks out there, and it’s not easy to pick the right one(s) to join. So when you’re reading my Best Home Exchange Networks post, also consider the feedback from others that I’ve gathered below.

Each comment below has a header to identify which networks are discussed, who wrote the comment, and the date of the comment. I might have missed some comments on specific network review posts, so if you don’t see your comment below, let me know and tell me where to find it so I can add it!

And anyone who has thoughts on specific home swap networks, please comment on this post.


Networks mentioned: Homelink, HomeExchange.com

From: Peter

Date: December 26, 2017

Just want to add to Dawn’s comment about the sites which offer direct exchanges rather than points being not as good if you have a vscation home rather than your main home. I think it depends on how popular your location is.

For example when we looked for exchanges from our Paris second Home base we found many people from both Homelink and Homeexchange happy to give us their main home either going to family or friends or their own holiday at the nonsimultaneous time we wanted to come. And even if we banked for several years we found lovely people still willing to accommodate us.

If you do a lot of exchanges as we do there are occasionally banked exchanges that you may lose or never get to. We just accept that as part of the otherwise fantastic opportunities and experience of Home exchanging.


Networks mentioned: Lovehomeswap, GuesttoGuest

From: Peteralb

Date: May 6, 2018

I just want to add a site that I think worthy being in the top 4 and that is Lovehomeswap. Their points system is better in my opinion than Gueat to Guest as it leaves it to the host to define their points as does the highly successful AirBNB.
It is also incorrect to state that Guest to guest is free. It charges when you book rather than having an annual fee.


Networks Mentioned: Homeexchange.com

From: Jeanette

Date: September 14, 2016

We have been huge cheerleaders for homeexchange.com since we joined in 2008. We’ve done 10 very successful simultaneous exchanges domestically and internationally, from our prior home in Mesa, AZ and our current home in Raleigh, NC.

Sadly, the reply rate when I initialize an exchange inquiry has become terribly low. Recently, I sent inquiries to 3 listings that specifically listed Raleigh when I did a reverse search. Two never replied, even after I sent a second inquirie. And a larger mailing of about 40 listings produced a response rate of less than 50%. Truly disappointing.

So, it’s time to add a second site for our exchange needs and I’m VERY grateful for your work and reviews! Thank you.

A question: Most of our exchanges these days tend to be domestic, within the US. Besides homeexchange.com, is there another site you might suggest?


Networks mentioned: Intervac

From: Teri

Date: September 16, 2016

intervac.com Maybe not the biggest, but the oldest. have done 6 exchanges , all fist rate.!


Networks mentioned: IHEN, HomeExchange.com, HomeLink, HomeforExchange

From: Jack Ehlers

Date: May 30, 2017

At one time I was a member of 10 exchange sites but now I use only use only four, IHEN, HomeExchange, HomeLink and HomeFor Exchange.Since 1996 and 42 exchanges the friendliest exchange is HomeLink; if you submit a question a reply is forthcoming very soon. They also gave us a free year because of customer loyalty since 1998 They also have a very low subscription rate for those of us who no longer travel outside the USA except for Canada occasionally.


Networks mentioned: GuesttoGuest, HomeExchange.com, IHEN, HomesAroundtheWorld

From: Ryan James

Date: June 22, 2017

It looks like I am coming late to this party, but now in June 2017 I can share this updated info.

Guest to Guest has bought out HomeExchange.com, though the French owners state they are not going to change anything. Until they do…

We have had about 11 exchanges with HomeExchange.com, but never any with G to G for the simple reason most requests come from Spain or Italy, places where we have been dozens of times. Our place is in Budapest, Hungary, so we often try to get out of Europe as much as possible.

I checked out IHEN and found that many and I mean many of their listings show the last dates available to be years old, nothing close to current.

We also belonged to a group for those of us over 55 years old. The format was really outdated, but we gave it a shot for a year. Nada, nothing!

I am tempted to try Intervac, since it is the ‘oldest’, but I hate wasting money if it is a dud.

As a gay couple, we have successfully used HomesAroundtheWorld.com eight times so far and have had great experiences. Just sharing for those who may be interested.

Love Home Swap, I think is the one that is going through a major revamping. They had asked if I wanted to be part of the beta group.


Networks mentioned: Intervac

From: Diane Rees

Date: July 17, 2017

We have used Intervac for more than 20 years now and have had a great response. I always use the ‘limit to members wanting to exchange to my country ‘ filter as we live in New Zealand. We would get at least a couple of enquiries a month, mostly from Europe, and others from the UK or US. We have always been able to find something suitable and have never felt the need to use another website. People using this organization seem to be very quick to respond and good to deal with.


Networks mentioned: LoveHomeSwap, Intervac, HomeExchange.com

From: Jab

Date: August 10/14, 2016

Initially Jab wrote: I’m just coming across your website as I’m doing more research on this house-swapping thing, and must say, you are awesome for putting SO much effort into this! I’m on a trial with LoveHomeSwap right now and debating on purchasing membership for HomeExchange.com… I really only have one trip in mind (to Oahu in a couple of months) so I’m not sure how to best utilize these sites other than for that, at the moment. I’m also debating on joining HomeLink.org. I will try and check out your other posts on here, but thanks again for your efforts. By chance, have you swapped/stayed in a second home on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, to lend advice or even a contact in that area as a potential host?

Jab followed up a few days later with an update:

Just a quick update, I signed up for three trials: Intervac (20 days), HomeExchange (14 days), and LoveHomeSwap (14 days).

I sent nine requests on HomeExchange and got SIX denials already within 24 hours – only two people included a brief but kind courtesy “Sorry, the place isn’t available, etc. but good luck!” type response with the denial. The others didn’t even acknowledge my personalized message and just clicked the “deny request” button, which seems a little unfriendly to me but, it is what it is. ;/

That said, I sent out only two requests on Intervac and have already gotten one reply as available for my time frame WITH vehicle!!! (Still needs to be confirmed) They were also very thoughtful and kind in their response.

As for LoveHomeSwap, I have sent out four requests for a swap/stay and have received three denials (all with kind messages) and one tentative response (she is double checking the availability of her home for my needed time period). Not bad!

Basically, it seems even though a site may have a lot of exchange listings for a certain area – like HomeExchange did, which is why I excitedly joined their trial – there may be no luck. However, I signed up for Intervac half-heartedly as it only had TWO listings for the entire county I am looking into visiting… yet I’ve already confirmed availability for one of them within a day!

The question becomes- if you can’t accurately gauge a successful chance of exchange through the number of listings, is there any other way? Or just simple luck of the draw?


Networks mentioned: Intervac

From: Lizbeth Seebacher

Date: August 12, 2016

Intervac Home Exchange worked very well for us. All 3 exchanges were in Europe so far.


Networks mentioned: HomeforExchange, Homebase-hols, HomeExchange.com

From: Gara

Date: October 12, 2016

I live in Australia and I’ve had very good swaps to Europe and the U.K. via HomeForExchange.com and Homebase-hols.com

I was a member of homeexchange.com but didn’t get good results and its one of the more expensive ones, but other people I know have found them good.

Cheers from sunny Sydney!


Networks: Intervac, LoveHomeSwap

From: Mary Curtin

Date: January 9, 2017

Delighted to find this website. I really like the idea of house swapping and have used Intervac and LoveHomeSwap with limited success but will persevere again this year. What I have found is:
– many requests I send go unanswered which is very annoying- a short reply saying ‘not interested’ is much better than not replying
– many listings are rentals and this is equally frustrating as owners are not specific in their listings regarding this
– European countries best for house swapping are France and Spain – we sent many requests to other countries, e.g. Iceland, Finland, etc and very little interest – we have homes in Ireland and Australia.

Good luck to everyone and we will persevere for another year as we are retiring this year so will have greater flexibility.


Networks mentioned: Intervac, Homelink, HomeExchange.com

From: Lauren Kahn, aka Altecocker

Date: August 20, 2016

I did two home exchanges this year, one through Intervac and the other through Homelink. Those services have consistently been the best for me through 66 home exchanges since 1990, so I should know what I am talking about. Any “best” list should include both of these.

I feel that homeexchange.com is a bad deal for Americans: Too many US listings and too few in Europe (mostly in France) makes it a bad deal if you live in the US. I got absolutely nothing from the site despite heavily working it. I have had hospitality exchanges in Asia through homeforexchange.com, but have never gotten a home exchange from that site.

Many home exchange sites, such as homeexchange.com include rentals–which mean you have to wade through a lot of homes before you find what you want. Also homeexchange.com has a really poor response rate. No site will elicit a response for every email you send, but homeexchange.com is especially poor. It could be that they simply leave up listings where people have not paid to jack up their numbers.

No one can prove anything about any of these sites unless you actually join–which means you have to do your own research and occasionally get scammed.

My views on the subject, which are different from Share Traveler’s can be found on my website. My most read piece is here:

http://altecockertravels.weebly.com/how-to-do-a-home-exchange.html

Networks mentioned: Homelink, Intervac, HomeExchange.com

From: AlteCocker

Date: May 21, 2014

Kudos to you for trying this. The problem is that you can’t know what these sites offer–or don’t–without a lot of experience with each of the sites. You have to pay to use all of the good ones, so it would be financially ruinous to evaluate each and everyone in detail.

I have done 55 home exchanges (4 more planned in Europe in June-August 2014) I started in 1990. Homelink and Intervac are the places where the experienced people hang out.

I do have a website/blog with a lot of information on home exchanges: http://altecockertravels.weebly.com/

I highly recommend Homelink & Intervac–which have been around since the 1950’s. The sharing economy is not a new thing for many of us.

I agree with you that homeexchange.com claims more listings than it actually has. Due to its abysmal rate of response, many of us think that they leave discontinued listings up to reach their totals. If, for example, you email people who are no longer members, they are not going to get the email and you will not get a response. homeexchange.com also has way too many North Americans as opposed to Europeans to make it a consistent option for North Americans who want to go to Europe. Many of the members are totally new to home exchange and really do not know what they want.

Several months ago I joined homeforexchange.com on the recommendation of a friend. Thus far I have gotten nothing out of it–and poor response to email as opposed to Homelink & Intervac. I took out a 3 year membership and will have a good handle on whether it is worthwhile after a year. I did get one person who committed and then cancelled and that’s it.

Networks mentioned: Homelink, Intervac, HomeExchange.com

From: Altecocker

Date: May 21, 2014

Homelink is an excellent home exchange service. I have belonged since 1990. They rate members on the rate of response to exchange requests–which encourages people to respond even if just to say “no thanks”. They are stronger in the US than Intervac is. Intervac’s strength is in its European listings.

Homelink also has a lot of listings in Australia and New Zealand and I have done 3 multi exchange trips down under and am planning a 4th.

Insofar as Asia, Africa and Latin America is concerned, no home exchange service has a lot of listings in those locations. When I tried homeexchange.com, I tried it because they claim a lot of listings there. My experience was very negative–as you must know if you read my website. I spent a lot of time working the homeexchange.com site–which I never do for Intervac or Homelink. I got absolutely nothing for my efforts. Most of the listings in Africa, Asia, and Latin America either did not respond or were rentals. When a homee listi exchange site allows in too many rental, it becomes a rental site. I dropped homeexchange.com after one year because I found it worthless. Other experienced home exchangers have had similar experiences.

I have no opinion yet on homeforexchange.com. I am hoping to get something out of it but, as yet, I am not getting a lot of responses to email or inquiries, so I might not stay with the service after my membership is up. I signed up for 3 years, so the site will have plenty of time to prove itself–or not.

I am doing a complicated multi-home exchange trip in Europe this summer. Krakow-Warsaw-Brest-Minsk-Istanbul-Stockholm-maybe Rome at the end. Only Brest and Minsk do not involve a home exchange or home hospitality stay. Many retired people do back to back exchanges but not everyone is as nutty as I am.

For your readers, a Finnish home exchanger has set up a Home Exchange Discussion Group on Facebook. If you want to join, just search for “Home Exchange Discussion” and ask to join the group. The group has been invaded, of course, by many people promoting their home exchange services, but it is still a place for new people to get information.

Good luck with your site, Dawn and thanks for all the research you did. The only problem is that half of the home exchange websites will be gone in a year and will be replaced by others. I do tell people to look for home exchange sites that have listings where you want to go. I am tired of seeing people say the want places that have almost no listings. Remember, it is very tough in Asia, Africa and Latin America and you might want to consider other alternatives. I always will consider “anywhere”–which is why I have been successful.


Networks mentioned: Intervac, LoveHomeSwap

From: Jenny Gilders

Date: October 25, 2016

Thanks for this .. i too have been swapping for years and done many exchanges.. not sure about 50, but certainly more than 20. I am about to re join intervac which i agree is reliable. I was planning to go for homeforexchange as it was recommended.. but will now take another look at Homelink. I have finally managed to extricate myself from lovehomeswap.. i did get a couple of great contacts but so loathed everything about the company and the site i am happy to be leaving. TODAY ;_)


Networks mentioned: HomeforExchange, Homeexchange.com

From: Barry

Date: November 24, 2016

Jenny, my wife and I have completed 16 home exchanges. We have used homeforexchange happily since 2008. It is Dutch based, the owner is very attentive to any queries. We have found it solid and reliable.
We enjoy three month exchanges, so are members of 7 home exchange web sites so as to find similar exchangers.
We were members of homeexchange.com from 2007 onward, but have let our subscription lapse due to a substantial price increase and slick marketing.


Networks mentioned: HomeExchange.com

From: Milly

Date: October 18, 2015

I wnated to give you some feedback on homeexchange as you said you were interested in it since they updated their website.

I have to say that the new website looks great but thatś where it ends. The search filters are hit and miss. I don´t believe the messaging service is working properly at all.

Every single time I´ve tried to use it in the last couple of months there has been a new and different problem.

Today, for instance, it was the calendar where you enter your proposed exchange dates….just not working.

The live helpdesk try to be helpful but their hands are tied by a website that was rolled out before it was ready.

i have the impression that many (MANY) of the listings are out of date and are there just to make it look good.

I certainly won´t renew if it isn´t fixed pretty hot pronto!


Networks mentioned: ExchangeHolidayHomes

From: Milly

Date: October 18, 2015

Also there´s another website which I´ve used called exchangeholidayhomes.com. Itś only for the exchange of second/holiday homes. I´ve done one exchange on there and have another one planned for May. Fabulous people to deal with.


Networks mentioned: LoveHomeSwap

From: Grahame

Date: February 17, 2016

I have been a member of Lovehomeswap for quite a few years now and have done over 20 successful exchanges, some of them damn awesome in fact. It is a terrific lifestyle.

I have had frustrations with the site, and today is not a good day. But I do have exchanges to South Africa (4), Morocco (3), Spain (2) and Malaysia (1 + 1 pending) in the pipeline for the rest of the year. Tentatively have exchanges into France and the UK lined up for June-August next year too. So that is not too bad.

The gripes I have are:

– I send out many enquiries and get back few replies indicating the accounts are inactive. A search function that allows you to prioritize active accounts where members have logged in within the past month (or whatever) would be wonderful. In addition, I would suggest a membership incentive for those who actually do log in and reply. Perhaps this could be a higher profile listing.

– It has some operational issues which can be tricky, especially if I am trying to confirm an exchange with a new user, and even more so if it is for a POINTS exchange. There is theoretical assistance available, but living in Indonesia I have never found this to be practical, fast or terribly useful.

– my today gripe is a received a confirmed exchange, which was great. However the other member has shown that they were actually in flight at the time of the confirmation, and the website has not been able to show why this was confirmed without the member actually doing so. The trip has now of course been cancelled, which is a pain in the lower regions usually used for sitting.

– I have received several requests for rental, which actually come via the site administration. After confirming availability and price I have never had a reply. This is a member based site, not a rental property listing, and I see that as inappropriate. Similarly we received a request to offer our home to a well know magazine for review of the site and its properties. Having agreed to this we seem to slip into a gap, and never heard about it again.

So for me this is a website with some gripes. But having said that, what an amazing opportunity to see the world.


Networks mentioned: HomeExchange.com

From: Pete

Date: July 31, 2016

Homeexchange.com is a great site, I have been with them for awhile. There were new things they rolled out, and they did not work properly , but they have been trying to fix them. Now is working great just few weeks ago, I like the passport and earning balloon thing they recent rolled out. You should check this website out.

The best website in my personal opinion, easy to use, I do hate every time they roll out new thing it never works at first, then they fix it.


Networks mentioned: LoveHomeSwap

From: Lyn Thorpe

Date: November 3, 2017

I have done in excess of 100 exchanges since the early 90s. I absolutely love it. I think I have used almost every exchange site in that time. I agree with your assessment of Love Home Swap. You have to be clever not to be ripped off!

Their software blocks the exchange of contact details so they can do two things: try to sell you some product and/or force you to use the “accept” option (and boist their success data) just to soeak with your exchanger. Of course they dishonestly claim they block the exchange of this information “to protect you” but even they don’t try to explain that. I ALWAYS speak with an exchanger before agreeing an exchange and almost always do a Facetime or Skype tour of our houses. I have frequently learnt something this way that has completely changed my mind about progressing with the exchange: usually helping me decide NOT to exchange. Things like traffic or train noise, lack of privacy, shabbiness etc.

There are so many better sites than this one where you are in control, not the swap site. I resent being milked for product sales opportunities, being treated with contempt by their office staff and by having my access to exchangers controlled.

As your article says, the claims about listing numbers are a total fabrication. I did a search and had 78 results. With those 78, one house was listed 3 times and two twice. I had asked for specific dates and destination with a reverse search to my home town. Of the 78 “results” only 8 were actually matches. The rest wanted sometime, somewhere but not what I had searched for. The office staff told me this search tactic was aimed to provide me with “options”. lol.

My conclusion is that the site is not honest and the dash for your money outweighs any considerations of integrity or honesty.


Networks mentioned: LoveHomeSwap, GuesttoGuest

From: Peter Lindsay

Date: December 23, 2017

Having also done in excess of 100 swaps I just discovered this site and I will be posting views and thoughts.

I would like to mention the somewhat immoral aspects of LovehomeSwap and Guest to Guest in that they both give away or lend points which they actually do not have the ownership of since they in fact represent nights of our (the hosts) lodgings.

LoveHome Swap gives or lends points for which they charge the visitors. They will lend up to 10000 points the equivalent of 60 nights in an average 150 points home. Depending on the country they will give away points as an incentive to join – I know of one where they gave 2500 points.

The only penalty if not paying back the points they lend is supposedly £250 if not repais in 2 years although whether they would or could pursue in case a lending client does not repay would seems unlikely.

Guest to Guest are even more gung hoe with our nights giving away points to get started so that in effect for my Paris apartment a client could be given freely upto the equivalent of 20 nights with no obligation other that showing an opeing on their own place. But as I found out by putting up a week at my place at short notice (unlikely to be requested) I could get the free points. In effect this means people can get a free holiday and simply not offer their place at all.

I have no evidence how many people abuse these free or given nights but what is clear is that it is a form of pyramid selling or giving since they are creating open days offered where there is no guaranteed return nights in place. The result is that more and more people are chasing fewer and fewer available places.

GuesttoGuest illustrate this by stating you may have to request 15 places to get a positive result. In fact that is additionally highlighted by the number of places that put on their site no availability at all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*

Subscribe to Blog via Email

© 2018 Travel Adventures in the Sharing Economy

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑