Post image for Home Exchange 101 Lesson 2 – The Mechanics of Searching

Home Exchange 101 Lesson 2 – The Mechanics of Searching

by John Mensinger & Deren Monday on December 16, 2009

I’m a big fan of the TV show Cops. I have been since I was a boy. There is something magical about watching someone being tased (when they deserve it), and the Cops HoHoHo Christmas Special is on par with It’s a Wonderful Life and A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Among the many entertaining aspects of Cops, criminal searches really stands out. I love watching both human and canine track down law-breaking scum, bringing them to justice using necessary (and sometimes unnecessary) force.

As an ode to Cops, and my childhood of watching too much violence on television, I present this weeks lesson in Home Exchange 101 via a Cops analogy.

Once you know house exchange fundamentals and set up your listing, the next step is to do some searching.

There are three main ways you can search: you can browse listings, search listings, or use an advanced search. For this lesson we use www.Homelink.org as our example, as it is one of the oldest, largest, and most reputable home exchange agencies. Homelink is a coalition of agencies based in different countries. Each affiliate has its own website and may vary in appearance and function. They do, however share a common database and listing format. For the lesson we are using Homelink in the USA.

Browse Listing Like the Streets of Ft. Lauderdale

Sometimes the stars of Cops (who are almost always actual cops, or prostitutes) simply cruise the streets of Ft. Lauderdale looking for crime. The scene opens with the cop talking to the camera about how he became a cop, and then BOOM, all of a sudden he flips a u-turn speeds after a criminal. The chase is on!

This much like the “browse listing” method of home exchange search. In the search menu, you choose “browse listings” and are presented with a list of countries. Significant home exchange countries have regions. (Example: France has 13 regional choices.) If you click on one you get a summary of all available homes. There is a photo of the home, its location in km from the nearest large city, the number of weeks or days for which they want to exchange, the dates, and the countries of interest. To see the home exchange listing in full you click on it.

Search Listings Like Your Looking for a Home Invasion Suspect

Other times the cops on Cops know what they are looking for, and they go right after it. Perhaps it is a report of breaking and entering, and the cops know the perpetrator is still on the scene. In this case, we get to see a true manhunt, and when they find him or her (usually up in an attic or down in a crawl space) they use all force necessary to bring the criminal to justice.

This method is like using the “search listings” options. For example, you can choose a country like Great Britain. You are presented with 14 different regions of the country on a map or you can search the entire country. You can select a city or town and you can do reverse search, which are members wanting your country. As an example, if you live in Belgium you can look for exchangers in Great Britain who have indicated Belgium as a destination choice. You can also look for those that said they are “open to offers” meaning they would go anywhere. The next check box is the hot list—these are folks that have recently indicated they are actively looking for an exchange. You might want to review this group before looking at other listings meeting your criteria. There is a check list of requirements—you can specify that you only want listings with non-smokers, no children, or near the beach, for example. Finally you indicate the range of dates for your exchange and your preferred duration.

Another option when you select search listings is to choose simple and advanced search. This brings up the simple search form. You choose the type of exchange (usually home exchange); indicate your country or continent of interest, duration, and dates.

Bring in the Dogs

Once in a while on Cops, we are treated to police dog footage. I admit, I love these clips. The criminal has no chance when a 65 lbs. German Shepard is pulling their leg out of the socket. Yes!

I consider a search with a police dog an “advanced search.” You too can conduct an advanced search on most home exchange sites. Advanced searches feature a check off list of approximately 75 search criteria. You can limit your search to homes with a piano, boat, and horseback riding, for example. There are an additional ten check boxes allowing you to exclude listings with things you wish to avoid. If you are a smoker you could, for example, exclude any folks that are non-smokers. Or if you have an irrational fear of David Hasselhoff, then, for the love of all things Baywatch, don’t visit Germany, because you German volks love the Hoff…

A handy feature of the advance search is a box labeled “Home should sleep at least ___ persons.” This avoids you having to review listings of places that are too small for your family.

Another useful feature is three buttons where you make one choice: ‘with children,’ ‘without children’ or ‘no preference.’ If you have children you should consider trading with families with kids. Housekeeping and maintenance standards are likely similar (read: lower) and your children will appreciate bedrooms with stereos and colorful posters such as a mooning Bart Simpson. Yes, we had this room in Wales. Your kids will expect the house to have a Playstation, X-Box, or Wii game console. There might be bicycles, skate boards, or a trampoline. While we were in that house in Wales my children found a hidden stash of candy which they devoured. This probably wouldn’t happen in a home with only adults, unless you are David Hasselhoff…

Couple sans children should avoid trading with a family that has children, unless you have a relaxed view towards your home and its contents.

Once you have made your choices and selected the search button, you see a list of properties meeting your criteria. They are sorted by country in alphabetical order. The region is indicated as is the nearest important city and its distance and direction from the home. Most listings have a camera icon, which indicates photos. The preferred dates, duration, and countries are shown. There arepictogram s showing key facts such as whether a car exchange is offered, if there are kids in the group, if they are non-smokers, and whether or not they are experienced exchangers. If you want to see the full listing you click on it.

This completes our focus on the mechanics of finding home exchange listings you might wish to further review. Next week we will look at how you efficiently sort these listings to the most promising exchange.

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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