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exchange homes in europe
When you choose to advertise your home with ECHS European Property Exchange there are some considerations to make. The advisory with home exchange tips on this page covers the most relevant issues. Click on any of the following links that are of interest to you.

What is home exchange?Finding an exchange partnerEstablishing trustBenefitsCostsCarsInsuranceDependants


What is home exchange?
Property exchange or home swap is a non-commercial practise to occupy accommodation. When you stay in the home of your exchange partner(s), your partner(s) then stays in your home. Usually, the actual exchange takes place at the same time, for an agreed duration. However, there may be people who offer their second home for exchange and in this case the exchange is not at the same time. For example, you might stay in a home when a person or family is away elsewhere and you would agree to the other party to stay in your home at a later date. A potential home exchange partner may wish to be near to someone who is close to them, a family member, or perhaps need to come to your area for business or employment reasons. Therefore, your "average" home may be ideal for someone wanting to exchange with you.

Finding an exchange partner.
So, are you worried about having someone unfamiliar in your home? Think of home exchange as internet dating for your home. Before you would actually go on a date with someone you met on the internet, you would exchange some e-mails, talk on the phone a few times, and swap recent photos. By the time you agreed to meet, there would be greater familiarity. Similarly, this applies for a home exchange and good communication minimizes misplaced expectations. Ask questions about the home, the area and make sure you see some photos. Both parties should ask for references about previous exchanges.

Establishing Trust.
Your prospective exchange partner will have similar concerns to yourself. There is no 100% guarantee that your home will be lived in as you live in it. However, there is good reason to treat the home entrusted to you with respect and care, if you wish to have future exchanges as your incentive. Exchange parties are normally mature, family and/or professional people who may be retired and/or financially prudent that sees responsibility as a necessary requirement in a relationship.

Exchange benefits.
The benefits home exchange, in a European environment, or a home exchange holiday (not exchanging property at the same time) is the same with standard home exchanges. Cost savings (hotel, car rental and eating out etc.) are greatly reduced in addition to having the space and freedom of a private home. You can experience parts of your own country or other countries as a local or a tourist and get to know your exchange partner's family friends and neighbours. If you are not in your own country, you may find yourself having to communicate in a foreign language, which can be considered a benefit.

What costs are involved?
Home exchange is non-commercial practise! Users of the Exchange category of ECHS website are not permitted to offer any accommodation for rent, but can make exceptions for utility costs. Home exchange is for finding national and international exchanges. Exchanges within a country are normally 1-2 weeks; international exchanges are normally 1-3 weeks. However, a few days or a few months are possible with an exchange. You can exchange a place that you have only a rental agreement for, but ECHS suggest you contact the owner of your residence and get the necessary permission. It is prudent to exclude very valuable items and jewellery etc. from the home following an exchange, but usually just leave household items where they are.

Certain Utility costs such as telephone, internet and seasonal energy costs can vary depending on your exchange location in Europe, so ensure that a balance is gained in dealing with these issues if you want limitations to be applied on utilities.

Cars.
Cars and other means of private transport can make a positive difference when included in a home exchange and should be negotiated mutually to allow a balance in your exchange agreement.

Insurance.
Your exchange partners are guests like any other guest you invite into your home. Normally, most European home owner's insurance covers exchange partners, as invited guests in your home. Observe the "permitted" drivers' clause (where cars are concerned.) However, ECHS strongly recommends that you review relevant insurance policies that take into account these issues. Damage to a home that is not covered by insurance, results in the party whoever caused the damage to either pay to have it repaired, or to reimburse. So ensure that you leave an exchanged home in similar (or better) condition than when you found it.

Dependants.
Accepting dependants, such as pets and children, should be explained in the Advert description when you advertise. Having pets as part of an agreement or accepting a family with young children requires additional considerations, so make your requirements clear.

Finally, exchanging homes is initially based upon trust, and legally drawn up contracts are not always necessary. However, an exchange agreement with a contract can make you feel good and establish responsibilities by clearly stating what both parties have agreed to. ECHS has a selection of documents that are free which relate to a Home Exchange Agreement and can be downloaded here.

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