Choosing a Home Exchange Club
Updated February 2009
Choosing a home exchange club can be a daunting task. There are more than 60 clubs, each with unique features. The good news is, with such variety, there is a club that is right for each home exchanger in the world wide community. Some questions that you may ask yourself are:
Do I have specific needs for my home exchange vacation, like bringing a pet? Pick a club that has advanced search options.
Is money a concern? Either join a club that is free or browse an open club that allows non members to contact members with listings. Or take advantage of discounts offered by various clubs on KYT.
Is privacy important? Choose a closed site, open to members only, that has no visible contact information.
Do I speak a language other than English? Look for a club that is international, based in your country of origin or one that offers free translations.
Am I extremely busy? Pick a site that provides a “concierge” service and does the work for you.
Do I have a specific location in mind? Use KYT's Country Listings to get an idea of which clubs have the most listings where YOU want to go.
Do I have specific interests? Many home exchange clubs specialize. KYT has a specialty section to help you choose.
KYT has looked at all the clubs and researched their features to help you make an informed decision. Some things to think about:
• Cost: Yearly costs for clubs range from free to over $1000 (for a specialty club). Most are under $100.
• Second Home: Many home exchangers have second homes. KYT lets you know if there is an additional charge for listing another home.
• Year founded: The oldest clubs started in 1953 and new ones have started almost yearly since the 1980s. If a club has been around a long time, it usually has built up a fairly large membership and a good reputation. Newer clubs may have innovative features that the older ones do not offer, although many older clubs regularly upgrade. The age of the agency is not always a good indicator of the quality of the site.
• Country of origin: Although all clubs are based in a specific country, most offer worldwide listings. There are a few specialty sites that are specific to the country of origin. Sometimes the club has more listings in the country of origin and is written in the language of the country. Many sites also offer translation services.
• Help: Some home exchange clubs have loads of information for the exchanger, which can be used in addition to the resources on KYT. Some provide excellent customer service (noted on details page) and in a few cases Concierge Service to do all the work for you.
• Visible contact: Some people prefer complete privacy on their listings. KYT lets you know which sites have what degree of privacy.
• Updated: Home exchange clubs vary in how easy it is to find out if listings are current. While most of the larger clubs are careful about removing older listings, some clubs date last updates or date of enrollment and expiration. That makes it foolproof.
• Number of Listings: KYT has estimated membership size. This is as up to date as possible, though of course, these fluctuate daily. It is quite difficult to compare number of listings due to the variables in enrollment plans and exchange agency policies for removing listings.
• Number of Pictures: In home exchange, it's always good to know what you are getting into. The more pictures that an agency allows, the better. A few clubs allow video updates which can really get an exchanger get an idea of the home and the neighborhood.
• Reverse Search: Reverse Search allows an exchanger to look for other exchangers who are interested in coming to their location. Some clubs offer reverse search options to country only, others are more specific.
• Open/Closed: There are several different methods of contact for home exchange clubs. If a club is deemed open, visitors are free to browse listings and contact members. Membership is required in order to post a listing. The advantage of open clubs is that they offer a wider range of potential swappers. Closed clubs require membership in order to contact other members. Their advantage is additional privacy and security. Another new trend is to offer a membership at no cost that allows an exchanger to list his home. These members cannot contact others; however they can be contacted by all paid members.
• Rentals: The best scenario as to rentals on home exchange sites is to completely separate rentals and exchanges. If a member wants to exchange homes, she should not have to pick through rentals.
• Guarantees: Some home exchange clubs offer guarantees if an exchange is not made during membership. They range from money back to an extension of the membership for a defined period of time. Many of the agencies have specific criteria that must be met before granting the extension.
• Language: Since home exchange is worldwide, it's helpful when agencies are available in several languages. Some have their complete sites including database information in many languages; others have only the information part of the site translated.
All this information and more is available in the View All Exchange Clubs sections of KYT.