I’ve been a member of Love Home Swap for more than 5 years. They were one of the first home exchange networks I joined. If you skim through this post on how I got started with Home Exchanging, the last few lines about the more expensive network that called me on the phone, that’s Love Home Swap. They are still the most expensive network, currently charging $228 per year for a standard membership, and even more for premium services.
When I joined I thought they were one of the largest house swap networks with 53,000 listings in 160+ countries. That was what they claimed. And that was a big factor in my decision to join. In 2015 that claim went up to 65,000 listings. In 2016 that was 90,000. And in 2017 they were up to 100,000 listings! (It wasn’t possible to count listings, so I was just taking their word for these numbers). That put Love Home Swap at the top of the membership list, exceeded only by Guest to Guest, a free network. While numbers aren’t everything, the more members in a network the more likely I am to find a match for my home exchange desires. Membership numbers are important.
Well, it turns out Love Home Swap agrees with me. So much so that they were willing to falsify their numbers. They were sanctioned by the UK ASA (an advertising standards organization). And in March of 2017 LHS removed all listings and member counts from their website. Around this same time LHS changed their search tool, making it possible to count listings. In June of 2017 I updated my Love Home Swap listing count to what it was, and still is: ~8,500 listings.
So there’s that. A big issue with honesty. And that’s not the only concern about Love Home Swap’s integrity. I have 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 experienced their high pressure sales tactics, calling up members who don’t renew. But I found that I could turn that to my advantage and just ask for a discount.
On the other hand, I have found this network surprisingly useful. Love Home Swap has a lot of listings in Asia. That’s not common on home exchange networks. In fact, LHS has members listing homes in a lot of places I want to visit. And those homes are often available when I want to travel. I went back through my home exchange reports and here are a bunch I did through Love Home Swap: a week in Bangkok, a fun night hosted in London, a week on a loch in Scotland and a few days in Edinburgh, a few lovely homes in southern California, and stays in Barcelona and Cadiz in Spain. I’ve found home exchanges through this network where I failed on other networks.
Most of my swaps on LHS have been points based: both hosting and staying. I think my success finding points-based stays is in part due to the many second homes listed on this network. Love Home Swap was initially focused on owners of luxury homes. And they seem to still have a lot of members with fancy second homes with significant availability to host guests. Even those being rented out on Airbnb are generally available for a home swap stay as long as I plan far enough in advance.
But last year I didn’t end up doing any exchanges on LHS. This combined with my anger about the false advertising and so I decided to quit the network. But I did host a lot of guests over the past two years, and had about 2500 points that I hated to just give up. Especially after paying the annual fee in 2018 and not using the network for any of my travel. I managed to negotiate a discount on my annual fee for 2019, and so I figured I’d just try to use up my points and then leave the network.
This year I’ve once again found Love Home Swap to be a very effective source of swap partners. I stayed for a week on Orcas island, and have a stay planned in Malaysia. And I’ve also recently hosted someone through the network. So my plan to spend all my points is not entirely on track, since I’m still accumulating from hosting. I figure, as long as I’m a member of a network, I should accept hosting requests when my home is free. It’s not the fault of those other members that I don’t like this network. I still like home exchanging!
I’m currently spending faster than I’m earning, so that’s progress. And since I’m getting good value for my membership this year I don’t think I’d feel bad leaving some points in my account when I quit. But this value is also making me question whether I should quit when my membership expires at the end of 2019.
Because I’m using the Love Home Swap network, I’m actively promoting them on this website just by reporting on those successful swaps. And although I’ve given them quite a bit of bad publicity by writing about their false advertising shenanigans, overall I think they are coming out ahead from my coverage. Regardless, their listing counts don’t seem to be increasing so maybe I shouldn’t worry about my relatively small influence.
I still have the rest of 2019 to make a decision, but I’d love some input. Should I quit Love Home Swap at the end of the year?