How to arrange a home exchange
Step 1: Make contact
Begin by drawing up a short list of properties that you are interested in. You can then send them a message via their listing.
Proactive members who send out plenty of offers are invariably the most successful. Your initial messages do not commit you to an agreement, they simply express interest in an exchange and it is understood that further correspondence will be necessary before an agreement can be made.
Your first communications should express tentative interest pending the outcome of additional correspondence. Emphasise the advantages of your own home as a holiday or touring base.
Every area has recreational and cultural resources as well as features of unique interest. Describe these without overstating them. If an exchange seems likely, swap further detailed information about your home and local attractions. Describe your home honestly - you want your guests to be pleasantly surprised when they arrive, not disappointed.
If your first efforts do not bring favourable replies, select other listings and repeat the process.
Step 2: More detailed communication
As the field narrows down, you will ask and answer detailed questions. Don’t be shy about this as it is wise to avoid misunderstanding by clarifying as much as possible at this stage. Once agreement has been reached both parties should complete an Exchange Agreement Form and once this is signed you can then commit to travel costs. There is usually much correspondence ahead of an exchange and quite often, your exchange partners will be good friends by the time the exchange arrives.
Using HomeLink's Exchange Agreement Form, here are some of the features you should include:
- Specific number of people in the exchange group with ages of children
- Arrangements for use of telephone; reimbursement for any long distance calls.
- Arrangements for laundering used linen on completion of exchange.
- If you intend to swap cars, clarify insurance and excess payments on the Car Exchange Agreement form
- Arrangements for meeting guests on arrival if possible and for collecting house and car keys.
- Complete the Exchange Agreement Form
Home Exchange Concerns
Home exchanging is a trust based arrangement and as such, it tends to attract honest, trust-worthy, decent people. We have only a tiny number of complaints each year and these are usually the result of mismatched housekeeping standards.
Exchange relationships are personal, not commercial and so there is a spirit of goodwill surrounding the arrangements. Good exchangers care as much about the comforts provided to their partners as they do about their own.
Always notify your home insurer about your exchange plans and verify your coverage. This is not generally a problem as many insurance companies are more than pleased to hear that your home will be occupied rather than left empty during your holiday.
If you intend to exchange cars as well as homes, you should contact your insurer to establish if and how overseas guests can be added to your existing policy on a temporary basis. If your current insurer won't allow you to add overseas drivers, get in touch and we'll let you know which companies can offer suitable cover.
Before Leaving for your Holiday
- Ensure your home is clean and well-organised (see the 10 Principles)
- Consider locking away fragile or valuable ornaments and private papers.
- Leave adequate fridge, cupboard, wardrobe and drawer space for your guests.
- Leave the makings of a first meal and some basic food items so that your guests can begin their stay in comfort.
- Leave a house book/folder with: locations of essentials; appliance operating instructions; refuse and recycling instructions; telephone numbers for helpful neighbours, doctors, babysitters, etc.; recommended shops, restaurants and area attractions; maps, public transportation schedules and tourist brochures.
Remember that making a successful home exchange requires some effort on your part. Much of this effort eg writing your house book, will be necessary for your first exchange only. For subsequent exchanges you can simply update this information.
Experienced exchangers know that making holiday arrangements becomes a very simple routine. Now, just relax and prepare to have a good time - with your home in good hands.
Help us to Improve HomeLink
Upon your return home, we would very much appreciate you taking the time to complete an 'Exchange Evaluation' to enable us to keep our standards high.
We also welcome any suggestions on ways in which we can improve our service to you, the home exchange community.
Thank you, in advance, from...
Caroline Connolly, Director
HomeLink International UK
7 St Nicholas Rise, Headbourne Worthy, Winchester, SO23 7SY
Tel: +44 (0) 1962 886882
NOTE: HomeLink UK cannot be held responsible for the condition of listed homes, the actions of individual members or the accuracy of the listings.