Post image for Home Exchange 101 Lesson 5 – Getting to Yes

Home Exchange 101 Lesson 5 – Getting to Yes

by John Mensinger & Deren Monday on February 3, 2010

A fascinating way to get to know someone is learn how they proposed, or plan to propose,  marriage.  A persons’ proposal strategy reveals their personality.

Some of us love to show off, so we proposed in large groups.  Others of us are low-key and measured, so a small, private, intimate proposal is exactly what we are looking for.

And yet others of us are self-conscious, so we propose high in the sky, on a cliff, or a tall building, or a bridge.  This way, should our proposal be declined, one nudge turns the newspaper headline from Man Proposes to Woman to Tragedy Strikes Right After Man Proposes to Woman

No matter your proposal strategy, four elements determine how successful your proposal will be:

  • Your relationship with the other person
  • The setting
  • The fine details
  • And the freedom to decline

And the same elements determine how successful you will be in landing your desired home exchange.

To recap Home Exchange 101, we’ve created our home exchange listing, searched home exchange agencies for viable exchange partners, and initiated contact with one promising partner at a time.  Now the fun begins as you get into the details of the exchange, convince your potential partner that they want to exchange with you and decide for yourself if this exchange is right for you.

Your Relationship with Your Potential Partner

A marriage proposal is much more likely to be accepted if you know the other person well.  As heartwarming as a Las Vegas wedding with a stripper sounds, it might not last.  And it will really irk your existing spouse.  In the same vein, your first priority in negotiating an exchange is establishing trust and confidence between the two families.

You will likely negotiate with either the husband or wife in a family.  Get to know them you as you would any new friend.  Talk about sports, pets, politics, or any shared interest.  Some view home exchange as simply a formal transaction.  We think this robs you of a deeper exchange experience; an experience resulting in new friendship.  We deem an exchange successful only if both parties end the exchange on fantastic terms and in friendship.

E-mail is a great way to build your relationship and also track the history of your negotiation.  Additionally, since many exchanges occur between families of differing native languages, e-mail is a more comfortable medium for many to use.  E-mails can be composed at your own pace and without the pressure (and awkwardness) of a live conversation.

As soon as possible, transmit a detailed document with information about your home, its contents, its location, and your family.  Include previous home exchange partners that they can contact for a reference.  Prove you are careful and experienced home exchangers or, if not, that you are detailed and attentive to their needs.

Respond quickly and fully to any questions or requests your potential partner sends.  Prompt response proves reliability and a willingness to work hard to make sure they have a good experience in your home.  During your negotiations be sure to inform your potential partner if you will be unavailable for any significant period of time.  Otherwise, they may infer you lost interest.

The Importance of the Right Location

A marriage proposal under a waterfall, in the dusk of a sultry Caribbean evening will likely be accepted.

A marriage proposal at the intermission of a monster-truck rally will likely be denied.

Location is important in a proposal, and it’s important as you negotiate your exchange.  Be sure the home you’re considering, its amenities, and its location work for your family.  Review their listing information carefully.  Ask for additional photos or information if needed.

Use the Internet to research their neighborhood, town/city, and region.  If you’re unfamiliar with their country and culture go to the library or bookstore and find a good travel guide or relevant book.  For an exchange near Amsterdam we read Culture Shock! Netherlands, which helped us understand the country and its citizens.

Ask questions.  Details matter.  If you love cycling on vacation the other family may have bicycles.  Are they good quality?  Are they the right size to fit your family?  Are they in good condition?

Be sure you are really getting what you want from the exchange.  For example, we love France because it’s not California.  We once began negotiations with a promising French family and learned they had an American style home in an American style subdivision near the freeway.  It was not possible to walk to the center of their attractive ancient town.  When this became clear we politely declined.

In contrast, a British family had a 200 year old stone home with a stream in the garden.  According to the map they were next to a sewage works, railway, and highway.  On a more positive note there were hills, forests, trails, and a river.   We were worried about noise and odor.  They explained that they never noticed the sewage plant and that the highway was far enough away not to be noticed.  The railway had a few local trains a day.   Everything they said was true and the setting was lovely.  We had a relaxing vacation there.

The Fine Details

Some of the best marriage proposal stories we have heard involve a small yet significant detail of the event.

Perhaps the ring given is a family heirloom dating back to 15,400 BC and made from real mammoth tusk.  Or perhaps you trained African swallows to form “Will You Marry Me” in an aerial extravaganza against backdrop of white, fluffy clouds…

In the same way, the details of your exchange are critical, and now is the time to discuss each of them with your potential partner.

A home exchange advantage is having local experts (your exchange partners) to help plan your vacation.   Let’s say you love cycling.  Your home exchange partners might go to friends or relatives to borrow bicycles for your family.  They may procure cycling maps and information.

Another home exchange advantage is meeting the friends and family of your exchange partners.  Last summer in Switzerland friends of our partners gave us lunch at their summer camp and had us over to dinner.   One year a French family wanted camping equipment.  We agreed to supply what they needed as part of the exchange.   Our Swedish friend Peter bought a Harley Davidson motorcycle in Florida and shipped it to our business to use it while on exchange in California.  The neighbors always knew when he was coming or going.

Be sure by the end of this phase you agree on terms and conditions like automobile use.  The car is important; each family needs to understand details of insurance coverage.  You might want to agree on a mileage limit if trading cars.

It isn’t necessary to negotiate everything before making an agreement, but if something is important it is better to have it understood and resolved before you say yes to the exchange.

The Freedom to Decline

The best thing about a marriage proposal?  Acceptance is a decision.  Don’t want to marry the jerk, then you can say no.  And then slap him.  And then walk away as you key his new car.  Just sayin’…

Home Exchange is also a choice (a great choice when done right).  At some point in the negotiation, one partner or the other will come to a conclusion.  If it isn’t going to work be up front about it and let your potential exchange partner know as soon as possible.  You don’t want the other family to miss out on other exchanges.   A more common problem is that one family is ready to agree to the exchange and the other isn’t.  In such cases the unconvinced family should figure out what information is needed so they can make a decision in a timely manner.

Once you have agreed you are committed and can begin detailed vacation planning with confidence.  If you are buying expensive non-refundable airline tickets let your partners know before you make the final decision.  Get their ok in advance.  This lets them know you are committed and if there is a potential problem they can let you know.

Join us next time for Home Exchange 101 Lesson 6 – Preparing for your Home Exchange!

John Mensinger is co-founder of 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 and father of two. He is also a remodeling coach teaching others how to make their homes exchange-worthy.  Deren can be reached at dsm_at_homeexchangeuniversity_dot_com.

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