Home Exchange Network Reviews

Love Home Swap Review

Love Home Swap review

review updated: June 2019

lovehomeswap.com

Founded in 2009

14 day free trial

$132/year, $156/year premium, $180/year platinum

English and French

Owned by Wyndham

9,984 listings (counted)

In mid-2017 Love Home Swap (LHS) was acquired by Wyndham, primarily a hotel business, for $53 million. It’s not clear how this has impacted their business model, but here are a few things that changed:

  • Pricing: Love Home Swap dramatically lowered their prices some time in the past year. The basic membership used to be $240/year, and platinum was $408! This is a dramatic shift in strategy but one that brings them more in line with the industry standard for pricing.
  • Advertising: When I updated my LHS review last (2 years ago) I wrote about their deceptive membership claims. After a ruling against them by the Advertising Standards Association in the UK, Love Home Swap has corrected this and no longer makes any membership claims.
  • Growth: It looks like Love Home Swap has grown by about 10% since my last count. Unfortunately I can no longer search on Asia in their system, but using the map it looks like the listings in Asia dropped while they increased elsewhere. Their strong representation in Asia is a big selling point of LHS for me so I hope this isn’t going to be a trend in the future.

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

  • United States: 1824
  • Europe: 5575
  • Asia: 373
  • Australia: 1156

I continue to hear complaints about shady billing practices leading to people paying for a membership they didn’t want and the LHS team refusing to refund the fee. Overall the past five years I’ve enjoyed some great swaps with this home exchange network, though I’ve used it less in recent years. In my experience LHS has a high percentage of people with second homes.

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 dynamically display on a map on the right half of the screen and you can redo your search dynamically within a narrower map area, a feature that would be useful.

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. There is no option to search on number of people in the swap party.

They have a reverse geography search to find people wanting to visit your home town, but it doesn’t seem to work as my reverse search turns up lots of people who don’t list my city in their desired destinations.

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.
  • 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.

Additional features: Love Home Swap is a very points-focused model of home exchange. And 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 but you can 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, even if you initiated the discussion. (They call archiving “deleting” which is a bit unnerving.) 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. 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.

 

1 Comment

  • 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.

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