Home for Home Review – August 2017

 Review date: August 2017

homeforhome.com

$61/year, 1 month free trial

Founded in 2008 (this is when blogging began)

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

English, Italian, Spanish, French and German

42,212 listings in 136 countries

Listings in selected countries:

  • Spain: 20,670
  • France: 12,026
  • Italy: 6622
  • United States: 687
  • Brazil: 145
  • Australia: 151

Unlike many home exchange networks, this one seems fully transparent about the countries and cities where they have the most listings. Though there is no way to validate counts for places with more than 600 listings without a membership. As can be seen, Home for Home focuses on Spain but they do have some listings in 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.

This year there was an important development for the Home for Home network: they were acquired by Guest to Guest. It’s not clear yet what, if anything, will change. So far they’ve just added a link to the Guest to Guest blog. This is a little strange since there is no other indication of the relationship between these networks on Home for Home.

I’ve noticed that since my last review of Home for Home (in 2014) there have been no obvious improvements to their website. As a result I’m reprinting below virtually the same review I did 3 years ago.

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. Home for Home seems to have removed the option to search on destination preferences of potential swappers.

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. Oddly, most of the activity in the forums seems to be making exchange requests, with people post places they want to go. This seems counter productive since it suggests these members are not using the search and request functionality as designed on the website. And if most members don’t participate actively in the forums (likely) then lots of requests are not being put in the right place.

There is an internal email messaging system for members to contact one another. I’m assuming no updates to this have been made since 2014 but I no longer have an active membership to confirm this. These comments about the messaging system are from my experience in 2014: 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 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. There is a definite sense of friendly community on Home for Home.

 

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