Review date: October 2021
Founded in 2017
1 month free trial
$59.99/yr + 1 credit per night (up to 80 cents per credit)
Founded by James Asquith, who currently holds the world record as youngest man to travel to every country in the world
Claims “thousands” of listings in 185 countries
I can not verify how many listings there are on Holiday Swap. Looking by country, or even city, restricts you to 48 properties. In places where I see fewer I assume I’m viewing all the listings in that location. To estimate the size of this network I counted listings in 12 locations with fewer than 48 properties on Holiday Swap. This included, for example, Germany, Dublin, Seattle, Milan, Orlando, Toronto, and Austin. I looked up the number of listings in that same geographic area on HomeExchange. There’s some variability, but across 12 distinct search areas Holiday Swap averages just under 2% of HomeExchange’s total listings. That suggests there are close to 10,000 homes in the network (2% of 450,000).
I estimated that about 70% of HomeExchange’s listings are really active. Applying that factor to Holiday Swap, I get about 7,000 listings. It’s worth noting that my listing, which I created several years ago, is still active. But I never paid any fees (and haven’t logged in to the network in over two years). This suggests there are probably a lot of inactive listings mixed in there, likely higher than the 30% I estimated for HomeExchange.
Unfortunately many of the listings still don’t appear to be real homes. For some, the pictures are not of a home. And for others there is a huge disconnect between the pictures and the descriptions. It does appear that the proportion of these fake listings has gone down a lot. But in the 48 listings I see in San Francisco, California, for instance, about half don’t look realistic to me. How many of these pictures look like real homes, advertising for exchanges?:
And these pictures certainly don’t say “Victorian garden flat” to me:
On September 22, 2021 (oddly, this was in the future when I read the blog post so perhaps it was actually published a year ago?) Asquith wrote: “The next 12 months will be a very exciting time as we aim to offer millions more homes around the world.” That’s quite a goal!
Holiday Swap seems to have backed off from the 240,000 listings claim made back in July 2019. I wonder where those listings went. Hopefully they’re cleaning up all the “test” listings and narrowing down to display only real members.
My attempts to request information on listing counts and other facts for this review received no response from Holiday Swap.
Searching: Searches start with a box for location and offer no other filters. Even the location search doesn’t work very well. If I put in “California” it returns one property, in British Columbia. But if I put in specific cities within CA I get a lot of listings. The search also returns random errors quite often. Cadiz, Spain generates an error. So does Zurich.
Amsterdam is a featured location. When I click through on that link I find homes in Mexico, NYC, Paris, Colombia, and Germany among the 48 listings shown.
When I’m not seeing errors, searches return pictures of homes with very little information displayed. And I find the limitation to 48 properties in any location to be a very strange choice. I don’t know if it’s a random sample, or the same 48 shown every time. (For me it seems to be the same 48 each time). Either way, this is not a useful limitation when I’m trying to find a home swap.
Listings: The information in listings is very sparse. The free form description of each property is the only place with useful details. Otherwise it just shows number of bedrooms and bathrooms along with “landscape” and “atmosphere” categories. It’s definitely missing a lot of details I’d like to see to help me find good exchange partners.
This network 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.
- Hosted stays – people can host in a spare room or empty second home and earn credits to pay for future swaps (see pricing model above)
Site design: In order to arrange a swap you have to match with another member. It’s a lot like a dating site. You favorite properties (clicking on a heart or a star) and if that property owner also indicates interest in your home you will be able to chat with each other.
You can see who has favorited your home. I’ve had a profile on Holiday Swap for several years. There are 20 members who have shown interest in my home, from all around the world. Some look like really nice homes. Others are clearly not real listings. The suspicious ones include “I am a 25 gurl ,friendly” with a naked picture of a woman. “Uniquly place” with multiple pictures of….a plastic wall. “Teranga African Hospital” with lots of pictures of a guy. And “Room in Sao Paolo” with a picture of half closed window blinds. To be fair, 16 of the listings look like they are real. So that’s a decent number of people showing interest in my listing. And the global geographic diversity is quite impressive.
There’s no explanation of the difference between a heart and a star. But there is the option to “x” out the listings you don’t want to see. When I tried to heart a listing the website had a bit of a glitch where it started showing me odd pictures of cats while freezing up. But eventually it seems to have taken my click properly.
Additional features: The basic 12 month membership includes 5 day property damage protection and there is a premium membership that includes 14 day property damage (up to $5000) and Covid cancellation protection (up to $500). I could not find any information explaining the distinction between 5 and 14 day coverage.
Note: Holiday Swap recently threatened me with a defamation lawsuit, demanding I take down my previous posts about their network. Upon further questioning I discovered that it was not my posts they considered defamation, but a very short comment calling their business a scam. I have removed the comment pending elaboration by the author as I can’t back up his claim myself. I believe this has satisfied Holiday Swap. Nonetheless, I think people should be aware that this is how the Holiday Swap team is spending their time and resources.
If you’re trying to figure out which house swap network to join, check out all my reviews of all the major home exchange networks.