Love Home Swap Review – June 2017

Review updated: May 2016

lovehomeswap.com

Founded in 2009

14 day free trial

$240/year membership, $408/year standard (always on sale for $276), $816/year platinum (always on sale for $408)

English and French

Significant venture and private equity funding since 2011

8,532 listings (counted)

Review update notes: I just published an updated review of this network in May, but then I discovered that my count of their listings was totally wrong due to LoveHomeSwap’s deceptive practices of displaying inactive listings in searches. As a result I’m posting this updated review to this to make sure people see the correct information. You can read more about this network’s membership count shenanigans here. The Advertising Standards Association in the UK recently ruled that LoveHomeSwap’s membership claims are misleading. They required the network to remove these claims from their website. Previously they claimed 100,000+ listings. To their credit, it looks like Love Home Swap has not only removed the claims but also updated the search system for members, greatly simplifying the task of counting total members overall and within any given region. Unfortunately they continue to have the old, deceptive search system up on the site seen by non-members.

It looks like Love Home Swap has not grown much since last year when I counted 8,256 listings.

Here’s a geographic breakdown of active listings a few regions:

  • United States: 1,392
  • Europe: 4,384
  • Asia: 464
  • Australia: 960

Overall I get good value out of this home exchange network. They are one of my go to sites, particularly for the points-based swapping flexibility. And I’ve met some LHS members who are very enthusiastic about the high touch experience that LHS offers with their higher priced memberships. (I only pay for the basic membership). However, I have also talked to a lot of people who have big complaints about LHS. In addition to the false advertising issue, I have also heard a number of complaints about shady billing practices leading to people paying for a membership they didn’t want and the LHS team refusing to refund the (rather high) fee. I’ve also heard from people who complain that the members on the network are less responsive than other networks. LHS seems to be one of the more profit-driven home exchange sites, which is not necessarily a bad thing if we want house swapping to grow in use and functionality, but definitely not great for members if it’s reflected in poor customer service.

Searching: Overall I’m not in love with the LoveHomeSwap search functionality. Searches all start with a blank to fill in for geography and travel dates. I have discovered that it’s best to leave off the dates even though these almost appear compulsory. Doing searches just based on geography, and adding in filters later, will return better results. Restricting searches by dates is only useful if your dates are completely inflexible.

Within the geography/date search results there are a number of filters to use to narrow down the matches. You can change the results view to see listings on a map, though you cannot redo your search dynamically within a narrower map area, a feature that would be useful.

They have a reverse geography search to find people wanting to visit your home town, but it doesn’t distinguish between people interested in “anywhere” and those actually listing your home town as a specific destination of choice. And other filters are very limited with to an odd selection of “home style” options that include “on the river” and “leafy suburbs,” along with a few home features you can request like wifi or a gym.

Listings: The search results are clean and easy to review with some good basic information displayed. Individual listing details are nicely organized and they display the status of any discussions underway.

Within the user profile you have the option of EITHER saying you are open to traveling anywhere OR listing some specific destinations you want to visit. You can not do both. This is a problem as I find that most travelers have specific destinations in mind but are actually open to most anywhere. But some are very specific about target destinations. I want to see desired destinations because matches there make for a great swap opportunity, but I also want to be able to say I’m open to anywhere.

In the member profiles I find the system of telling people to write “3 things about us” less useful than just requiring some standard information. For instance, not everyone mentions their family size in this section, which is a very important point for most people looking to find a match for a swap.

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.
  • vacation rental – the usual rental system applies here, and owners collect payment via LoveHomeSwap. There is no additional fee for owners renting through this site.
  • swap points – earn points for letting others stay in your home while you are away, and then redeem those points to stay in any of the other homes participating in the program.

Site design: This website has a newer generation look and feel, though this is a case where slick design does not necessarily translate to ease of use. Some features on the site that should be obvious are not easy to find. I had to actually email customer support to find where they hid the option to review houses you’ve swapped with. And some people can’t figure out how to “accept” a swap because it is far from intuitive. Also the member home page that comes up when you log in is mostly useless as a landing page. There are also a few significant bugs on the LHS site that have persisted for a very long time. For instance, for several years now there is an issue with the date fields offsetting swap requests by a day on each end.

Additional features: LoveHomeSwap has some innovative features. This includes swap points and home insurance options. And for those who like a high touch experience, the LHS premium membership options offer significant customer service and support.

The email system is reasonably easy to use, but you can’t archive discussions without sending a formal rejection of a swap, even if you initiated the discussion. (They call archiving “deleting” which is a bit unnerving.) And when I do this sometimes the declined swaps stay in my inbox with no indication that I’ve “declined and deleted.” Also the site blocks out personal email and phone number information until you have committed to a swap with firm dates on the site. This is rather inconvenient when trying to work out details which would be better done outside of their email system, or just trying to send someone basic information like the public transportation website for your city.

If you’re trying to figure out which house swap network to join, check out my reviews of all the major home exchange networks.

 

1 Comment

  1. I follow your reviews of LHS closely Dawn, one of the reasons I set up myholidayhome.exchange website was to provide a platform for holiday home owners to exchange to set it apart from residential home swaps. I don’t offer a free trial period as payment (currently £1 p.a) is one part of my verification process and I want to be sure the listings I have are genuine. Keep the posts coming Dawn, they are helpful as ever.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*

Subscribe to Blog via Email

© 2017 Travel Adventures in the Sharing Economy

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑