Review date: April 2014

homeforhome.com

HomeforHome.com

HomeforHome.com

Founded in 2008 (this is when blogging began)

$21/3 months, $61/year, 1 month free trial

Grupo Intercom “the leading group in Spain for the creation and development of Internet businesses.”

English, Italian, Spanish, French and German

37,505 listings in 123 countries

Listings in selected countries:

  • Spain: 15,416
  • France: 10,272
  • Italy: 5202
  • United States: 652
  • Brazil: 106
  • Australia: 103

Unlike many sites, this one is fully transparent about the countries where they have the most listings. As can be seen, they focus on Spain but do cover a wide range of other countries. This may be a good choice for people looking to go to Europe, but probably isn’t very useful if you want to travel to other parts of the world.

Searching: All searches start with a box for geography, which includes autocomplete functionality. The results can be displayed on a map and offer the standard variety of filters to narrow down the list. Searches on people wanting to come to my country return results if they list your country. There is no option to list “anywhere” as a preference so folks open to going anywhere can not be separated out from those with only specific destination preferences.

Listings: The search results include an overview and description though they are missing some information that would be useful to display. The detailed listings are reasonably readable but they do not tell you how many people are looking for a swap in a way that’s easy to find, making it difficult to eliminate families of a size that won’t fit in your house.

This site offers the following variations on house swapping:

  • simultaneous or non-simultaneous house swap – this is the traditional model where two parties swap houses for an agreed upon set of dates. Non-simultaneous works best with second homes, but is also useful for people going on vacation and leaving their home empty. In this case each party picks different dates for the swap.

Site design: The Home for Home site is slow, and the design is busy. It takes a while to find what I’m looking for, but it’s got most of the functionality I’d expect from a house swap site. Considering their membership numbers though, I’d expect more design work.

Additional features: Home for Home offers online forums for its members and a sample exchange contract. There has been blog activity since 2012 and very limited social media presence otherwise. There is an internal email messaging system for members to contact one another. Unfortunately within the listings it is not possible to see if you have already contacted someone. And within the messaging system you don’t end up with all messages threaded in one place. There’s also no archive function within the mail box so this lack of email features results in a very messy inbox and difficulty tracking requests. There is also a favorite function to save listings for later, but there’s no bulk messaging function so that you can contact multiple people in a location at once, and after contacting people you must individually remove them from the favorites list which is far more difficult than it should be.

I am impressed with the friendliness of members of this site. Perhaps it’s just people in Spain, but I’ve contacted a lot of people in Spain via other house swap sites, and the Home for Home responses are consistently super nice and personal. But even more striking is that my swap requests resulted in two invitations to stay in people’s houses who could not swap with us. One offered to vacate her house and another offered to make a spare room available for our use and to drive us around sight seeing on the weekend.