Help & FAQs

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  • How does home exchange work?

    • 1.What are the benefits of a home exchange?

      There are many benefits to home exchanging, including cost savings, meeting new people, discovering new places and cultures, forging friendships around the world, and living like a local.

    • 2.How do I arrange an exchange?

      When you become a member you receive full access to all member details in the HomeLink community, to which your home details will be added.  As a member, you simply contact other members whose exchange offer interests you, and that begins the dialogue. Your exchange may result from the propositions you initiate, or exchange invitations you receive from other members. Your membership confirmation email will contain brief instructions on how to start navigating our website.

    • 3.How far in advance should I begin seeking an exchange?

      Generally speaking, you should start the process of seeking and arranging an exchange anywhere between 3 to 6 months prior to the exchange. If you are planning to attend a popular event, you might want to start the process earlier than that.

    • 4.How much should I communicate with a potential partner prior to the exchange?

      As much as possible. Getting to know your exchange partner and addressing all your needs and concerns prior to an exchange are essential to every successful exchange.

    • 5.Is there a limit to the number of exchanges I can make?

      No. You may exchange as many times as you like, as long as your HomeLink membership is valid. Exchange during the summer, at Christmas, for the Easter holidays, and on weekends – all around the world – at no extra cost!

    • 6.Who pays for what during an exchange?

      Generally, member continue to pay their own utility bills at home (heating, water etc.) while on an exchange. Exchangers agree beforehand who will pay the extra-ordinary expenses such as long-distance phone calls. If a car exchange is involved, exchangers agree to reimburse the vehicle owner for the non-claimable portion of any insurance claim. These conditions are easy to stipulate in the HomeLink Exchange Agreement Form.

    • 7.Can I exchange my second home?

      Yes! You can either use your second home as your only exchange home, or list both your main home and your second home - thus appealing to two separate groups of exchangers and increasing the number of people who may wish to swap with you. Further, a second home can make it easier to organize Non-simultaneous Home Exchanges (for example, between the Southern and Northern Hemisphere, exchanges are often non-simultaneous because of seasonal differences).

    • 8.How long do exchanges typically last?

      All durations, from weekends to several weeks, and long-term or sabbatical exchanges. It depends on what you and your exchange partner arrange. Because all home listings allow members to specify their preferences, you can easily identify exchange partners looking for similar exchange periods as you.

    • 9.Do you have to own your home or apartment to exchange homes?

      No. Exchanging homes is like inviting friends to stay at your home while you are away -- much like a bi-lateral homesit. There is no financial transaction between home exchangers, and exchanging homes is not considered as sub-letting. If you are a renter, you may want to check with your landlord and consult your rental agreement first.

    • 10.Does the exchange have to be international or can I exchange in my own country?

      You can arrange either type of exchange. A week-end stay in a city you’ve always wanted to discover in your own country… or two weeks abroad during the summer, for example.

    • 11.Is there an Exchange Contract?

      Yes.  HomeLink provides a simple contract for both parties to set down their terms of the exchange, and all agreed logistics, such as date and time of arrival, number of people involved, exchanging keys and so on. The HomeLink Exchange Agreement Form also includes a section for specifying the terms of Car Exchange.

    • 12.Is my home insurance affected by having home exchangers?

      Home insurance providers can have differing policies on home exchange guests. It is important to contact your home insurer to confirm that your policy will remain valid during the exchange. Your local HomeLink representative can provide further information if necessary.

  • What are the different types of home exchange?

    • 1.Home Exchange (simultaneous)

      This is by far our most common type of home exchange. You stay in your exchange partner's home while your exchange partner stays in your home. Durations are variable and exchanges often take place during the holidays or school vacation.

    • 2.Non-simultaneous Home Exchange

      This brings a lot of flexibility to the community, being able to accommodate exchanges at times which may not be personally convenient for you. There are a variety of circumstances when this might occur. For example, if a HomeLink member is not free to stay in your home for the dates you suggest, yet they are still be able and willing to accommodate you in theirs - this is a Non-simultaneous Home Exchange. This often occurs when a member has more than one home, however multiple home listings are not a requirement. A Non-simultaneous exchange may also be arranged if you are able to stay with friends or family while your exchange partners stay in your home.

    • 3.Weekend Home Exchange

      Perfect for visiting nearby cities or attractions, a weekend exchanges enable you to seek potential Exchange Partners interested in exchanging homes over the course of a long or short weekend.

    • 4.Long-term Home Exchange

      Exchange Partners interested in exchanging for more than a 3 month period of time will use this type of exchange. Many members arrange multiple, back-to-back exchanges to accommodate their long-term travel plans, or home exchange world tours.

    • 5.Sabbatical Home Exchange

      Sabbatical exchange is a semester or year-long exchange between university professors.

    • 6.Hospitality Exchange

      A hospitality exchange allows you to welcome fellow HomeLink members to stay in your home while you remain there to enjoy their presence and/or vice versa. Members do this for a number of reasons. Some new HomeLinkers prefer hospitality exchanges to ease themselves into this new world of travel. Others take up hospitality exchanges because over the course of their correspondence, they have formed a friendship and would enjoy having each other as guests. Another reason is that one member may be keen to go to a specific area but the approached member is not able to reciprocate an exchange at that time they may offer hospitality exchange in order to facilitate the other member's travel plans. Whether or not a Hospitality Exchange is reciprocal is left completely to the discretion of our members. This is why the Hospitality Exchange Agreement Form is "one-sided". Should members choose to reciprocate, a second Exchange Agreement Form is to be initiated by the member offering Hospitality.

    • 7.Youth Exchange

      With Youth Exchange, you send your child or teenager to live with another member (during school vacation or over the summer) and then you welcome their child into your home.This is a fabulous way of introducing children to the mind-broadening (and maturing!) experience of international travel, and living in a different culture, with a different family. It is a great choice for experienced exchangers, in particular those who have swapped with and met the other member before.

    • 8.Homesit Offered/Needed

      This is a non-reciprocal scenario where you either offer to live in another member's home in their absence or have another HomeLink member stay in your home while you are away. Homesit is great for those who want to travel but want the reassurance of having someone care for their home in their absence. It is also a wonderful way for members to see the world and make themselves useful to others, while living like a local.

  • Who exchanges their home?

    • 1.What type of people are HomeLink members?

      The majority of HomeLink members are professionals – doctors, engineers, teachers, lawyers, business executives, retirees, etc. Many are families with young children. All of them share a taste for exceptional vacations / holidays, and enjoy the comforts of being “at home” away from home, while saving 100% on accommodation costs.

    • 2.Is home exchange appropriate for families?

      HomeLink home exchange is ideal for families, large and small. All families wanting to travel face many challenges, both economical and organizational. With home exchange, you won’t be paying for vacation rentals or multiple hotel rooms you will be saving money on restaurants by being able to prepare meals in your exchange home, and you will benefit from the equipment left by your exchange partner (clothes washer and dryer, baby equipment, toys…).

  • What types of homes are exchanged?

    • 1.What types of homes are exchanged?

      A complete variety, from inner city apartments to beach homes, from small suburban houses to large rural properties.

  • What if?... Common Concerns

    • 1.How can I trust my home to a stranger?

      Home exchange is a trust-based arrangement and as such attracts trustworthy, honest people. Your home is much less likely to be broken into when occupied by your exchange partners, than if left empty. And don’t forget, while your exchange partners are in your home, you will be in theirs – this, in itself, is a reassuring factor. Further, the HomeLink community reduces risk by running a "closed system" in which members exchange only with other paying HomeLink members. In the end, the decision to swap with a particular exchagne partner is yours. As you get to know each other through discussing and organising the exchange, your exchange partner becomes less of a stranger. Many members forge lasting friendships. If you are concerned, we recommend you exchange with an experienced member until you feel more comfortable with the process. We also recommend that you address specific concerns with your exchange partner as you arrange the swap. This often breaks the ice as they may feel exactly the same way!

    • 2.I am a little uncomfortable with exchanging. Is there a way to ease into it?

      Yes! Why not first try a Hospitality Exchange, where members arrange to host each other in their homes. Also, we encourage our members to be forthright with all of their concerns regarding the exchange. Open and honest communcation between members is essential for successful home exchanging.

    • 3.What if something happens to our home when exchanging?

      In over 60 years of HomeLink, theft and vandalism have never been an issue. Problems, if any, are often simple misunderstandings, and a few instances of accidental breakage. Insurance companies often advise that your house is safer from theft and vandalism with guests present, than if left vacant.

    • 4.What if I need assistance during my exchange?

      HomeLink has local representatives around the world. Should you need assistance during your exchange, please email or call your local representative. If they need to involve the HomeLink representative in the country you are in, they will request their assistance and explain your situation to them.

    • 5.I have pets and a garden. Who will look after them?

      While many members do enjoy looking after their exchange partner's pets, and do not find it troublesome to water the garden occasionally, you cannot in all fairness impose this upon them. Remember ... like you, they are on holiday. They may have long day-trips planned, or simply do not want to commit to a routine. So if you need extensive pet care or garden work, be sure that this is very clear and accepted by your exchange partner. Even if you arrange for a neighbor or family member to take care of your pets, you should still let your exchange partner know of your furry, feathered or finned friends in case they are allergic to certain animals.

    • 6.Who would want to stay in my home?

      While some people do seek similar sized properties, not everyone does many people value the variety of experiences. Often people just want a comfortable, clean base from which to explore the area. They are not interested in critically appraising the architecture or style of an individual's house. City dwellers with large apartments and spectacular views sometimes dream of spending a week in a cabin on the lake. Even modest homes and apartments have qualities that make them desirable to those who have more elaborate residences (i.e. fun neighbourhoods, peaceful surroundings, proximity to outdoor or cultural activities…) You may consider your home humble in comparison to a property you would love to exchange with, but this does not make it in any way inferior. Most HomeLinkers recognize that homes cannot be rated according to tourism stars, because they are spaces where people live their lives, making them comfortable, unique and intimate. The people who have the most success in exchanging are those with an open mind, who do not presuppose what others in the HomeLink community will think.

    • 7.Would people want to visit my area?

      Whether you live in an established tourist area, or in a place far from the beaten tourist's track, people will definitely want to visit. Our membership base is diverse, as are peoples' travel habits. While some prefer popular travel destinations, others seek genuinely new experiences. Our members are both international visitors and locals who may be looking for a base to catch up with family or to explore the area. When completing your home listing, think about all you enjoy about living in your area. Look at all the things the locals do, from entertainment to the natural habitat, and list these down to accompany your property details.

    • 8.Does HomeLink have a "code of good conduct"?

      Yes. We ask all HomeLink members to abide by the 10 Principles for a Successful Home Exchange, and always to act in good faith. The sense of mutual responsibility, honor, and respect encouraged by the 10 Principles is the cornerstone of HomeLink's successful home exchange tradition, built over more than 60 years.

    • 9.Who can see my profile information?

      Your full profile information will only be visible to other HomeLink members.

    • 10.Who can see my home address?

      All HomeLink members will be able to see the location you indicate as the address of your exchange home. Should you be concerned about having your exact address accessible by all HomeLink members, you may want to simply put down the street on which you live and not the street number and alter the map locator accordingly.

    • 11.Who can see my password and personal email address?

      No one can see your password. Not even your local HomeLink representative or the website administrator. Your email address will however be accessible to HomeLink and may be used to inform you of potential home exchanges you may be interested in, or other news related to home exchange. Receiving such information is on an opt-in / opt-out basis.

  • Preparing your home for exchange

    • 1.Is there a standard for cleaning your home before an exchange?

      Standards of cleanliness vary, so make sure that floors are vacuumed and mopped, refrigerator emptied and cleaned, stove and oven grease-free, bath and shower free of mold and grime, windows see-through, and surfaces dust-free.

    • 2.How can I best explain how things work around the house?

      Compile a clear, useful “Guide to Your Home and Surroundings”. This should include information on local activities, instructions for household and electrical appliances, pet and plant care, details of garbage collection, etc. Phone numbers of a recommended doctor, dentist, babysitter, good restaurants, and helpful friends, are always welcome.

    • 3.Should I leave a welcome gift for my exchange partners?

      Yes! It has become a HomeLink tradition to leave a small gift of welcome: a bottle of wine or champagne, a local specialty brought from home. Also the makings of a first meal are always welcome after a long journey.

  • Is the HomeLink database always current?

    • 1.Is the HomeLink database always current?

      Yes! New members are added daily and current members are constantly updating information regarding their travel plans. And quite importantly, unlike the "new" breed of internet-only exchange networks, HomeLink does not artificially inflate our total membership numbers by keeping expired listings online. Our member's listings are removed as soon as they leave the community. With HomeLink, you won't waste time trying to contact expired members whose listing information has been kept "live". HomeLinkers update their own details regularly. When you search our database, it is possible to see the current status of each fellow member: what periods they are available for and what destinations they are interested in exchanging with.

  • Is there a HomeLink Code of Ethics?

    • 1.Is there a HomeLink Code of Ethics?

      Yes. We ask all HomeLink members to abide by the 10 Principles for a Successful Home Exchange, and always to act in good faith. The sense of mutual responsibility, honor, and respect encouraged by the 10 Principles is the cornerstone of HomeLink's successful home exchange tradition, built over more than 60 years.

  • My HomeLink Home Exchange Listing

    • 1.What is a HomeLink listing?

      Your 'exchange listing' is a page devoted to your home with a detailed description of your its location, amenities and surroundings. It also includes information about your travel plans and about you and your family. It is what your potential exchange partners will see when they search for an exchange in your area. If they like it, they will contact you to propose an exchange.

    • 2.How do members find out about my listing once I have joined?

      As soon as your listing has been published in our on-line database, it will be added to our list of "Most Recent" home exchange offers which is regularly consulted on the Search page. It will also be included in email Listing Alerts and sent to members who are actively searching for an exchange in your area. Furthermore, there is no better way for members to know about your listing than by contacting other members yourself through our secure messaging system. So be bold and send out your offers straight away!

    • 3.At what point will my listing be published on the site?

      When filling out your listing you will see a gauge indicating its degree of completion. In order to ensure the high quality of our network, HomeLink members must complete 90% of their listing before it is published on the site. This means filling in all mandatory fields, as well as a certain amount of important, but optional, fields. Remember, the more complete and attractive the listing, the more exchange offers you will receive!

    • 4.Can I list multiple homes with HomeLink?

      You can list as many homes (studio apartment, summer cabin, etc.) as you wish at no extra cost.

    • 5.How can I make my listing more appealing?

      Be sure your listing has a nice selection of photos (see How can I improve my photos). Have your exchange partners sign your Guest Book after each exchange. Be sure your Dates and Destinations are filled in and up to date. Complete as much information in your Profile as you can : add a description and fill in details about you and your family. Review the Affinities and Affiliations section and be sure that you select all of the items that correspond to you and your family.

    • 6.How can I improve the photos on my listing?

      Photos are the first thing prospective exchange partners look at when considering an exchange. Listings with great photos receive more offers. Five simple tips can make all the difference: 1) Light it up - brightness lends depth and colour variance to the scene. Sunlight is best, but if it’s a dim day, just turn on the overhead light and lamps. 2) Shoot into a corner - this shows the range of space and adds dimension to the photo. 3) Clean the scene – De-cluttering is key, as it will make your place feel more livable and extra things won’t distract in the photo. Just be sure this is a true reflection of how guests will find your home. 4) Highlight the amenities – take pictures of what makes your place unique and comfortable: patio, BBQ, view… 5) Take exterior photos – they help people imagine what coming home to your place will look and feel like. Photograph the entire structure and surrounding area.

    • 7.What is a "Listing Alert"?

      A Listing Alert is a weekly message sent to you upon request, informing you of new listings that correspond to your selected Dates and Destinations. For example, if you are searching for a two-week stay in California in June (and if you request a Listing Alert on that) you will be informed of all new listings proposing a home for exchange in California for two weeks in June.

    • 8.Why is it important to fill out specific Dates and Destinations for my listing?

      So you can receive exchange offers that correspond to your travel plans. With set Dates and Destinations, you will receive more relevant offers from other members and avoid having to write negative responses to exchange requests from places you are not interested in or that do not correspond to your availability. You will also be able to request Listing Alerts on your Dates and Destinations and receive weekly updates of new listings that correspond to your travel plans (see question What is a Listing Alert?).

    • 9.What is the Response Rate?

      Each member's listing shows a percentage figure called the Response Rate. This figure reflects the rate at which each member responds to messages received in the HomeLink messaging system. The Response Rate is calculated on the first email received from each correspondent. A high response rate attracts more home exchange offers than a low one. So, in addition to being polite, it's to your advantage to respond to each request that you receive.

  • Arranging an exchange

    • 1.How far in advance should I begin seeking an exchange?

      Generally speaking, you should start the process of seeking and arranging an exchange anywhere between 3 to 6 months prior to the exchange. If you are are planning to attend a popular event, you might want to start the process earlier than that.

    • 2.How much should I communicate with a potential partner prior to the exchange?

      As much as possible. Getting to know your exchange partner and addressing all your needs and concerns prior to an exchange are essential to every successful exchange.

    • 3.What about home insurance?

      Different home insurance providers can have differing policies on home exchange guests. It is important to contact your home insurer to confirm that your policy remains valid. Your local HomeLink representative can provide further information if necessary.

    • 4.Is it recommended to complete an Exchange Agreement Form?

      Yes, because putting your exchange agreement into writing allows you to avoid misunderstandings regarding dates, where the keys will be when you get to your partner’s home, number of people who will be in your home… In addition, filling out the Exchange Agreement form will allow you to fully benefit from the HomeLink system of support. To find the form, open the conversation with the member you're swapping with and you will see a Create Agreement Form button between the two house photos at the top of the page.

    • 5.What happens if I don't fill in an Exchange Agreement Form?

      Without a written document confirming the details of your exchange, simple misunderstandings can occur, and turn your dream vacation into a nightmare. For example, you might misunderstand your partner’s dates, or think that they had agreed to exchange their cars, but in effect they hadn’t, or you might not know where they intended to leave the keys to their home… The Exchange Agreement Form allows you to have all of that in one simple document that you can print out and take with you (and if necessary, use as a justification should anyone question your presence in your exchange partner’s home). In addition, filling out the agreement form guarantees that you will fully benefit from the HomeLink system of support. Without one, your exchange will not be recorded in your exchange history or in the number of exchanges that appear on your listing (which serve as reassurance to other potential exchange partners).

    • 6.I have specific needs, how will I find an exchange that suits me?

      By using our advanced search criteria, you will be able to look for exchange homes that can accommodate your specific needs. In addition, your specific needs can be highlighted on your home page listing, thereby informing potential exchange members in advance of your special needs. For example, you may be a non-smoker and allergic to pets: you will be able to see if the member is a smoker and/or has pets. You may need disabled access, or you may be a young family who would prefer to exchange with members who also have children. Whatever your needs or preferences, member listings are comprehensive and detailed, allowing you to find what you are looking for with ease.

    • 7.What if I am having difficulty finding an exchange?

      Make sure that your home listing is up to date and complete with attractive photos of your home and surroundings. (see "How can I make my listing more appealing?") Also, be flexible in your travel plans. Experienced exchangers find that being open to all offers they receive is the best way to find exciting exchanges. Also, remember that your local representative is always available to provide you with advice home exchange is fun and we are committed to assisting our members through the entire process!

  • Providing feedback after an exchange

    • 1.Why should I complete an Exchange Evaluation Form?

      The Exchange Evaluation Form is a tool that allows HomeLink to continuously maintain the standards of its network. After each exchange, you will be invited to give your feedback on important issues such as the “Did the exchange home correspond to the description given in your member’s listing?” and “Was the home clean upon your arrival?” The evaluation form also allows you to share a personalized comment on your exchange experience with your local HomeLink representative.

    • 2.What is the Guestbook?

      After each exchange formalized through the use of the Exchange Agreement Form, you will be invited to sign your exchange partner’s Guest Book. Signing the Guest Book, means writing a recommendation for your exchange partner. Your comments will appear on their listing and help them receive more exchange offers. Recommendations include, for example, information on how you enjoyed their welcome, their home and surroundings.

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