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How to count active listings in a home swap network

count active listings

I’ve received a bunch of responses to my recently posted call for input on home swap network reviews. Two things stand out in these responses:

  1. People Like Us is a cult.
  2. I need to provide some standards for counting active listings.

Ok number 1 is a joke. I’m a member of PLU and I’m not aware of any cult. But if you look at the responses to that post, you might think there’s a secret PLU campaign going on. The reality is, members of PLU are super enthusiastic. And many of them want a larger network so they take every opportunity to spread the word.

Actually number 2 comes from Drew at PLU. He asked how I want him to count “active” listings. I’ve never offered clear guidelines about what I consider an active listing. In fact, I used to call it a “member count” until I realized that what I’m really reporting is the number of home listings. It’s entirely possible that lots of people in a network have more than one home. And the number of homes listed is the more interesting piece of data. It’s also the easier thing for me to compute on most networks.

A few years ago I also introduced a new column of data to my home swap network comparison spreadsheet showing the “listings claimed” when I learned that some networks were claiming wildly inaccurate numbers. Where numbers are provided by a network and I don’t have any evidence that they are wrong, I assume they are accurate. But when I have reliable information suggesting that claims are inaccurate I will attempt to count the listings myself and put their claim in this separate column. This preserves the integrity of my “listings” column which I know people use to compare network sizes. I also ask all networks to tell me if my counts are wrong. I’m happy to update my numbers whenever I’m given more accurate info.

I recently proposed some criteria for measuring active listings. First we have to start with members.

Here are things that I’d say are a reasonably proxy for active membership:

  1. Payment for membership in a network
  2. Actively opting in to membership in a network in the past year (i.e. the SwitcHome model)
  3. Responding to a swap request or sending out a request within the past year
  4. Creating a new, complete profile within the year (including pictures, not including calendar availability)

Once we establish who is an active member, I would count all of their listings as active. Though this assumes that networks have a way for people to deactivate or delete old listings as needed. Obviously we don’t all stay in the same home all of our lives!

So that’s it. If anyone wants to propose improvements I’m happy to hear them. But for now this is just a suggestion to the networks. I ask all networks to provide me with updated listing counts annually. I can’t actually enforce these rules or implement them myself.


  • I notice that most home exchange networks don’t show a membership expiry date on their listings eg Intervac, PLU, LoveHomeSwap, homeexchange.com.

    HomeLink has always shown a membership expiry date on every listing. This is assigned automatically on payment or free trial sign up. Listings are automatically removed on the day that they expire. This means that people thinking of joining can get an accurate picture of what is available.

    Without an expiry date shown on listings it’s very easy for companies to leave inactive listings displayed indefinitely, thereby artificially inflating their numbers… And it’s almost impossible for anyone outside of that organisation to make an accurate count.

    Bring back the expiry date!

  • And then you need to discount all the “fake” listings on HE which have been identified as using photos of other properties that they’ve downloaded from the internet…..
    Will be interested in the results.

  • Personally I would prefer to only have items 1 and 3 as criteria.
    The others leave open the possibility that many free starter offers in the year start in and then don’t continue.
    Also I don’t understand what it means to state in 4. “not including calendar availability”

    • You are right about the risks of 2 and 4, but there are some free networks out there that are committed to never charging for home swapping. I want them to be able to count listings too.

      As for number 4 “not including calendar availability” means that if your network allows you to indicate when your home is available for swap on a calendar, you don’t have to fill that in to be considered active. Some people will leave that blank because they are available year round. But they’re definitely active. So I don’t want to be overly restrictive and require filling in the calendar to be considered active.