Post image for Exchangeaway, HomeXchangevacation, and HomeforHome and the problems of not paying for your exchange agency membership

Exchangeaway, HomeXchangevacation, and HomeforHome and the problems of not paying for your exchange agency membership

by John Mensinger on February 27, 2011

Exchangeaway is new, probably brought to us by the folks behind HomeXchangevacation. I can’t confirm this since they haven’t responded to an e-mail inquiry. This new website is beautiful to behold and has a lovely map based search. The planet is shown with blue circles on continents. You click on North America for a detailed map by state and province, again with blue circles, which show the number of listings. Once you click on a state you have individual markers showing the location of exchange homes. There is a street view link which is so cool you might overlook the problem of it being off by one street in the case of a home I happen to know well. The listing format is attractive.

I can’t recommend Exchangeaway because they have a business model that can create fear, uncertainty, and doubt. They have partial members and full members; we can describe them as free members and paying members. As a free member you can post your listing and look at other listings. Paid members can contact you. The problem is that as a free member you can’t read an e-mail from a paid member unless you too become a paid member. Exchangeaway has over a thousand members, but we don’t know how many are free members. You could be a paid member and send 1000 inquiries without having any of them read by other members.

This crazy system can be compared to HomeXchangeVacation, in which there are free and paid members. The crucial difference is that as a paid member you can contact free members that can then consider an exchange with you. I was looking for an exchange in Scotland and discovered that HomeXchangevacation had over 500 members there wanting to go to the USA. I paid my dues and contacted about 100 of them and had several promising discussions. My suspicion is that most of their members are free and relatively unfamiliar and uncommitted to the home exchange concept.

HomeforHome has little to do with the above; they recruited members with a free listing offer and now have made the transition to charging dues which are 35.40 euros per year. You can pay 59 euros and your home will be highlighted in search results and appear on the home page. This is an interesting premium option. I haven’t paid any dues; I assume other members will continue to be able to contact me with exchange requests. HomeforHome has a beautiful website with over 20,000 members.

HomeExchange.com, Homelink, HomeforExchange.com, Intervac and other agencies only have paid members. My experience has been their members are serious about house swapping. Our last 11 exchanges have been arranged through agencies with 100% paid members.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lois, Home Base Holidays April 1, 2011 at 2:26 AM

Thank you for publishing a very thoughful post on the innate problems of home exchange agency models that include both paid and unpaid members. Home Base Holidays has always had a paid members only model for the very reasons that you mention – members who have paid a modest fee to join an agency are more likely to be genuinely interested in swapping homes, and there is much less chance of the frustration of not receiving responses to many offers sent.

The ease and cheapness of starting a business on the Internet has meant an explosion of new home exchange agencies every year and, for the most part, these launch as free listings sites or, in some cases, a mixture of free and paid. As there is no way of seeing (as a non-member anyway) which listings are paid, such agencies can acquire an impressively large number of listings in a relatively short time. Most potential members (and, unfortunately, journalists too) don’t look beyond total numbers of listings claimed or consider other important criteria when choosing an agency to best suit their needs (e.g. how committed is a member to arranging an exchange? How long has the listing been in circulation and when will it expire? What is the balance of listings between my country or area and the country I want to visit?) .

Over the years we have seen many agencies come and go, with a very few good ones that survive because the owners are committed to providing a good service and are prepared to stay the course needed to establish any small business. I hope you will continue to educate potential new home exchangers with (unbiased) advice on how to choose from a bewildering number of agencies to find the one or two most likely to suit their needs.

2 Jeanette April 12, 2011 at 8:12 AM

Great comments. We’ve 4 out of 5 of our home exchanges with paid memberships. Only one was with a free service, and our success with that arrangement was just lucky. In fact, the owner of the home we exchanged for had forgotten she had even listed her home on the site!

I keep our home exchange listing on that free site, but have only received a few inquiries. And I would regard them with a bit more caution than one of the paid sites.

3 Jill Singer July 7, 2011 at 7:52 PM

Nice comment ! The Vacation Exchange Network is only available to sole owners of vacation homes and second homes.Membership is free for the first year. You pay only when you make an exchange. See Fees for more information.
http://www.thevacationexchange.com/fees.html

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