review updated: September 2020
Founded in 2009
14 day free trial
$132/year, $156/year premium, $180/year platinum + additional fees
English and French
Owned by Wyndham
13,411 listings (counted)
Here’s a geographic breakdown of active listings a few regions:
- United States: 2091
- Europe: 7752
- Asia: 485
- Australia: 1368
This is an increase of about 4 thousand listings over last year’s review. But I think those members come from the 2020 integration of the Home for Exchange network into LHS. In fact there were more than 6000 members on HfE at last count, so it looks like the LHS membership dropped a bit in the past year.
Once again LHS has changed their pricing model. This time in a way that hides some significant fees from members. There is a hidden charge for using points to book stays ($69-$129/trip). And you must pay the higher fees to get a points refund if you have to cancel the trip. These tiered fees include the option to buy down the points cost of bookings. Essentially LHS is offering a points + cash booking option where you pay a higher cash price to spend fewer points. Over the years I’ve heard complaints about shady billing practices. And these new pricing tricks run along the same deceptive lines.
Overall, in the five years I was a member of LHS I enjoyed some great swaps. In my experience LHS has a high percentage of people with second homes. This works well with the points-based swap system. But in later years I was using this network less. And when they changed the pricing model to charge for points exchanges I decided it was time to quit the network.
Searching: Searches all start with a blank to fill in for geography, length of stay, and month of travel along with how many people are traveling. I have discovered that it’s best to leave off the month of travel and length of stay. Doing searches just based on geography, and adding in filters later, will return better results. Restricting searches by month is only useful if your dates are completely inflexible and fall exactly within a calendar month.
The search results display on a map on the right half of the screen and you can redo your search dynamically as you move around the map.
Other filters are very limited with 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. There is no option to search on number of people in the swap party.
LHS has a reverse geography search to find people wanting to visit your home town, but it turns up people who check the box “open to travelling anywhere.” That’s not super useful as a reverse search.
Listings: The display is 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.
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.
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.
- 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. They’ve fixed a lot of design flaws and bugs over the past few years. At this point I think the website is pretty intuitive to use. In 2020 LHS updated their branding but I don’t see any other significant changes to the website.
Additional features: For those who like a high touch experience, the LHS premium membership option offers significant customer service and support.
This past year Love Home Swap added a new feature: instant booking. This involves using points to book a home without discussion with the host. Hosts still have the option to turn down instant booking requests, but they’ve made this more difficult. This feature is optional: hosts can fill in a separate calendar to indicate availability for instant booking. Instant booking is nicely integrated into the search and booking functionality. Here’s the full FAQ on instant booking.
The email system is reasonably easy to use, but you can’t archive discussions without sending a formal rejection of a swap. (They call archiving “deleting” which is a bit unnerving.) LHS blocks personal email and phone number information until you have committed to a swap with firm dates. This is rather inconvenient when trying to work out details which would be better done outside of their email system. And for those who prefer to have a phone conversation before agreeing to a home exchange, this is particularly annoying.
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.
I am very upset on how they tricked me in to being a member fir free for two weeks and still charged me $189. BeWare of this Scam and not ethical operation
I strongly agree with Dawn that a site that hides its billing process until you are hooked in is not the kind of company I wish to be associated with so like Dawn I will aim to reduce my use of their site in favour of Homeexchange. It is very easy if they wish to be honest and offer two versions – a more expensive subscription for those who expect to do several exchanges and a lower subscription with charge per visit for those who only expect an annual trip.
In all cases upfront visibility equals honesty. I was being asked to help LHS with a couple of blogs about our trips but I have now withdrawn that offer.
I agree Dawn’s view that LHS remains one of the best sites. And really good news they have brought their pricing into line with the market.
For ease of use and the points system it works wll. As far as filters are concerned I mostly use the one of main home home or vacation home as for simultaneous exchanges vacation homes offer more probability of a hit.
I personally can not immagine using the” instant booking” facility as I would always want to discuss first with the hosts or my guests , but I guess for a very popular place or homes which are otherwise on AirBNB this might be useful.
The dates system continues to leave much to be desired. I do wish the sites would insist on complete availability being maintained as it would greatly reduce the wasted requests.
LHS limits you to a specific month whereas the Homeexhange site at least offers to put in exact dates which if you have a fixed schedule is more useful.
As for their ridiculous blocking of Email and phone exchange prior to signing it is about time they dropped it. It just makes those of us who are determined to work out codes that allow the information to pass their nonsensical blockage.