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Are Home Exchanges a Viable Option When Moving?

A home exchange is a situation where one lends his or her home to another family and goes to live in their house. In this kind of arrangement, one does not move with the household items except probably the clothing and other personal effects. House exchanges are done through home exchange programs supported by real estate companies. Some home associations also support home exchanges.

When doing a home exchange, one lets the possible suitors know the characteristics of the home that include the living space, location, furniture and amenities within the house and in the neighborhood, and of course livability and security of the area. He or she then states exactly what they are looking for. The home exchange site then matches the home swapper’s requirements with a home that has the characteristics they want. The home must have the features that the other party wants for the exchange to take place. The company that handles the exchange looks at the background of both parties to determine their criminal records and other personal data before giving a nod.

This arrangement differs from moving to a new home where one packs all belongings and vacates home. Here are some insights that may help you determine whether home exchanges are a viable option when moving.

Permanent Relocation

When it comes to moving, the decision is usually permanent. It means that one is never coming back to that home. However, most home exchanges are temporary such as during the holidays where families would like to have a vacation home to cut on costs. While one may still find a party that is willing to relocate permanently, it is highly unlikely that they will just walk out of the home into another home with only their personal effects. It is also hard to find a home that has all the features that one needs for a permanent stay, and the other party gets satisfied with what the other home has to offer.

However, there are long-term exchange programs especially for expatriates who are on specified time assignments in another state or country, or students going for short studies away from home. A long-term exchange may take a year or two; It rarely goes beyond that.

Rental Home Swaps Need a Nod From the Landlord

When one enters a home as a tenant, he or she gets into an agreement with the landlord on the terms of the tenancy. Each party retains a copy of the agreement. When swapping the home with another person, the agreement has to change so that it is between the new occupant and the landlord. The landlord has the right to press legal charges for contravening provisions of the tenancy agreement. If a new person is to occupy the home, the landlord has to agree to the arrangement. The onus is on the landlord. He or she is free to accept or reject such an agreement. There are three common types of house exchanges as explained below.

  • Each party stays in the other party’s home. This also called a simultaneous exchange and the most common form of exchange.
  • One party stays in the home-swappers second home. This arrangement is called non-simultaneous exchange.
  • One party stays as a guest in the other party’s home while the party lives in the same home. The arrangement is also called a hospitality exchange.

One may enter into either option depending on the availability of homes and preferences of the other homeowners. It is important to check what options are supported by a given company before enlisting as a member.

Questions and Answers

Here are some common questions about home exchanges and answers that may hopefully aid in helping you make a decision.

Q: How does one guarantee the security of household items in a home exchange?

A: The exchange companies do basic background checks on their members. However, it is important to have a meeting with the other party and get to know them before entering into a swap agreement.

Q: Is membership to home exchange sites free?

A: Some companies offer free membership. However, most reputable ones do not. Most sites charge for listing homes and helping find matches to your needs. The reputation and effectiveness of a site in matching homeowners with complementary needs should guide your choice.

Q: Are there any charges levied by other parties

A: Most home exchanges are free. However, there may be times that the other party may charge a fee. For example, if you are staying in his or her second home but he or she is not living in your home. He could be subletting the home to you.

Q: Can a home exchange agreement be terminated before the expiry of the agreed period?

A: Terminating the agreement before the maturity of the agreed period may inconvenience the other party greatly. However, the contract can be terminated if both parties agree to it beforehand or either party fails to act as per the terms of the contract.