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Home Exchange 101 – Orientation

by John Mensinger & Deren Monday on November 25, 2009

Our mission at HomeExchangeUniversity.com is to educate home exchangers, both novice and expert.  We commence this education with a 10-post series titled Home Exchange 101.  We hope you enjoy and, most importantly, use this information to create fantastic international home exchange vacations!

Step 1: Is Home Exchange Right for You?

Well, since your reading this post, its safe to say you are willing to at least explore the option of home exchange.  Good for you!

You can investigate the process without spending any money, but the faculty here recommends spending sixty to two hundred dollars to join one or more home exchange agencies.  To benefit the most from home exchange invest time in understanding the process and evaluating home exchange opportunities. And get your family involved too!

Now remember, joining a home exchange site is NOT committing to a home exchange.  No one is going to show up on your porch the day after joining and tell you to be on your way across the Atlantic.  (As delightful as that sounds…)  You are simply paying for the opportunity to list your home and view the listings of others.  At this point you haven’t committed to trading your home. You are only committed when you agree with a specific family that you want to trade for their home.  This comes later in the process.

Let’s face it: The prospect of letting another family use your home can cause a bit (or a lot) of anxiety.  So how do you fight this anxiety?  You take steps to minimize your risks. You develop confidence in the other family before you agree to an exchange. We will discuss how to do this in detailed subsequent posts. And really, the anxiety boils down to this exploration of logic:  Is your home safer empty for a few weeks or is it safer inhabited by a well-researched home exchange family? You can decide for yourself, but we will take the exchange family over an empty home any day!

Step 2: Sign Up!

The next step is to sign up for one or more home exchange agencies.  These companies charge a fee, ranging from nothing to $200 per year.  They provide an Internet marketplace for exchange families to find partners. We recommend you visit our friends at www.knowyourtrade.com; they review and analyze home exchange agencies world-wide.  The faculty here will add additional insight on specific agencies in months to come.

Once you chose an agency, set up your home exchange listing.  A listing is simply an advertisement of your home and location.  It explains to other members why your home, region, and family are an ideal choice for exchange. Unlike commercial advertisements, we highly recommend everything in your listing be absolute truth, though be sure to “sell” your home by highlighting its many benefits.  In fact, our team here at HomeExcahngeUniversity.com is currently developing a Home Exchange Listing Tutorial that will debut in a few months.  We will automatically link this post once it is available.

Step 3: Search the World…

Once your listing is up there are two ways to find an exchange:

First, you can wait for others to find your home and suggest an exchange.  We call this the wallflower approach.  If your home is a mansion in San Francisco or a Chateau in the Loire Valley this is the best method. (And if this is you, we want to exchange with you immediately!  So, please contact us at…)

Second, you should consider rockin’ the search tools on your home exchange website to find other members with whom you might like to swap.

A Few Points to Ponder

The Automobile:  An important question is whether you want to trade the use of your automobile as part of your home exchange.  Approximately 50% of home exchanges involve automobile exchange as well.  We devote an entire class to this important topic.

The Negotiation:  Once you find one or more promising exchange families the negotiations begin.  Your goal: Figure out if their home and region fit your exchange goals.  While doing so, be sure to lay a foundation of trust and respect.  If the negotiations proceed, these first few interactions set great precedence for all future interactions.  Once again, this critical issue will be covered in subsequent posts.

The Preparation:  Once agreeing to an exchange the preparation begins.  This includes making sure your house is clean and in good condition, create a user’s manual to help the incoming family get the most out of your home and region, and preparing your family for your upcoming vacation.

The Exchange:  Finally there is the exchange itself.  This should be easier than the preparations but usually there are a few surprises, both good and otherwise.  As the old saying goes, “Forewarned is forearmed.”

Be sure to join us for our next class in Home Exchange 101!

John Mensinger is co-founder of HomeExchangeuniversity.com and an experienced home exchanger.  His passion is helping others experience the enjoyment (and cost savings!) of home exchange.  John can be reached at jm_at_homeexchangeuniversity_dot_com.
Deren S. Monday is co-founder of HomeExchangeUniversity.com and father of two. He also dabbles in on-line marketing planning and implementation. Deren can be reached at dsm_at_homeexchangeuniversity_dot_com.

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