The merits of swapping versus renting on your next vacationon August 19, 2012 @ 1:32 pm (Updated: 7:19 am - 8/20/12 )
As prices for vacation rentals rise, many families are looking to save money by home swapping, rather than renting, on their vacations.
Joe Murray, founder of KnowYourTrade.com, a home exchange website, chalks up the growing popularity of swapping homes to the fact that people are being more frugal due to the economic recession.
"If you're taking a vacation to Paris for two weeks, a family of four - $15,000 to $20,000 for two weeks in Paris, whereas, if you exchange homes, you knock out your hotel bill and half your food bill because you can cook at home at your exchange. So you're looking at just paying airfare, essentially," says Murray on Tom Kelly's Real Estate Today.
Home swapping works mostly through home exchange clubs, some of which charge a fee for membership. These clubs list homes by region or interest. Some clubs are highly specialized, like Christian Home Swap, Aussie House Swap, or Green Theme International Home Exchange.
Murray says he has had better experiences when home swapping because he finds so many new things to do.
"You get to live like a local. You really get to see the country," he says.
Another advantage to living in another person's home is the ability to meet new people easily.
Meeting neighboring families can also be a chance to build an extended home swap network. Murray's philosophy, "strangers are just potential friends," applies to both neighbors you meet in person while home swapping and people in home swap clubs.
Home exchange is a process and by the time all the details are ironed out, you discover most people are friendly and trusting.
First, families choose where they want to go and when they would like to travel. Then they can start browsing through listings on home exchange club websites and contacting homeowners in their target city. When responses start coming in, you can choose which house to stay in.
Home exchanges don't have to be simultaneous. Some home swappers travel to a family's second or third home, while others "bank" their time. That means that after one family travels to a house, they promise to give the other family priority when they want to travel to their house at some point in the future.
Murray recommends that novice home swappers stick to the home exchange clubs since they regulate their clients. Over the years, Murray has swapped over 40 times and has had only two bad experiences, both when he didn't use a club. In one case, the house had rats. In the other, when swapping through Craigslist, the house was not accurately represented online and had a potpourri of maintenance problems that impacted the trip.
Many inexperienced home swappers also have trust and safety concerns. However, Murray says that families don't need extra insurance to swap their home.
"Years ago, I investigated that by calling up my State Farm guy," says Murray, "He says, 'you know, Joe, the way you're explaining this to me, I'd rather have someone staying in your house than not. You don't need any more insurance. Maybe I could get you a discount because obviously more robberies occur when people are on vacation than otherwise.'"
Listen to the full conversation with Tom Kelly and Joe Murray:
Bonneville Media encourages site users to express their opinions by posting comments. Our goal is to maintain a civil dialogue in which readers feel comfortable. At times, the comments can descend to personal attacks. Please do not engage in such behavior. We encourage your thoughtful comments which: have a positive and constructive tone, are on topic, are respectful toward others and their opinions. Bonneville reserves the right to remove comments which do not conform to these criteria.