Home Exchange

ThirdHome Review – August 2018

Review date: August 2018

ThirdHome.com

Year founded: 2010

$2500 initiation fee + $395-1295/stay

Specialty: Vacation homes >$500k in value

English only

10,000 members

While ThirdHome claims over 10,000 member properties, but has about 1500 weeks available for swapping at any given time. I’m not sure how that works out, perhaps there are only really 1500 active members. Or maybe people are offering up fewer weeks than they are traveling. With the Third Home model you can buy extra stays by just paying more for a swap. All members are required to offer at least 1 week for exchange every year to stay active. Accounts are suspended for those who fail to deposit a week, but I suspect these properties are still counted in the 10k members.

ThirdHome is a luxury home exchange network. They have a few rules: Your residence must be $500K in value or more (they claim the average home value in their network is $2.3 million) and located in a “desirable area”.  Primary homes cannot be listed. “Quality furnishings and amenities are expected along with a list of luxurious standards.”

I’ve heard that ThirdHome waves the $2500 membership fee for a lot of reasons, but I’ve never applied for membership so I can’t confirm that first hand. Members can also opt for a higher level of service by paying an annual membership fee.

I admit I’m a bit baffled by the pricing on this network. I think a luxury vacation home swap network makes a lot of sense. If you want to leverage your second home for stays around the world, and be ensured that it’s easy to find availability, swapping with other folks in the same situation is logical. These luxury home owners get the same level of quality in their exchanges that they are offering to others. And the ThirdHome Key system should make it quick and easy to find available weeks in desired properties. But the initiation fee and cost for each stay is very high. These folks are obviously very well off, but they’re trying to save money on travel by doing home exchanges. If money really were no object, it would be easier to travel just paying for fancy resorts or rentals around the world.

Listings: Nice pictures, overview description and indication of basic relevant details about each home. There are a lot of “ThirdHome Affiliate” listings at high end resorts like the Ritz-Carlton. These listings indicate that you may be placed in a different room than the one pictured. Some of these require a resort fee, in addition to the swap fee. I’m guessing these not condos owned by members but instead a different type of arrangement ThirdHome has set up with some resorts. Depending on the cost in Keys and fees, these places might be a good deal for members. They’re essentially buying down the cost of stays in resorts by trading a week or more of use of their luxury vacation home.

This site offers the following variations on house swapping:

  • points-based swapping – ThirdHome awards travel credits, called Keys, for each stay deposited by a member, based on the value of the home, location and time of year. Members can then spend these Keys for stays at other listed properties.
  • property rental – home exchange members can also offer their properties for rental. After the first year there is a commission for rentals. The rental service also includes listings for properties not included in the exchange network.

Site design: The site looks nice though relevant information about membership is not easy to find. I can’t speak to the functionality for members.

Additional features: ThirdHome is now offering experiences, which include some high end package tours. I assume they are reselling from a boutique tour company.

ThirdHome also offers house swap insurance for their members. This is called the Host Assurance Plan and it provides up to $5,000 of coverage for members not paying for premium service. Those paying an annual fee for higher levels of service can get up to $10k or $15k in coverage.

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