After you signed up to HomeExchange, you received your first exchange request. You must be asking yourself a lot of questions, so here are our responses to the most common questions, and our recommendations to exchange your home with total peace of mind.
- Understand if they’re proposing a reciprocal or non-reciprocal exchange
- The most frequently asked questions before receiving home exchange guests
- Establishing a relationship of trust
- Preparing for your guest’s arrival
- How to attract more exchange requests
A Reciprocal Exchange or An Exchange with GuestPoints
You just received one or more exchange requests on HomeExchange. The first step is to understand what kind of exchange they are proposing.
- If it’s a reciprocal exchange, the person is asking to be hosted at your home and offering to host you at their home in exchange. In reciprocal exchanges you can still exchange GuestPoints. For example, if the two homes have very different GuestPoint values, or if you are travelling for different lengths of time. Finally, you can also do reciprocal exchanges at different times. That is to say, if your host comes to your home in December, and you can’t or don’t wish to travel at that time, you can go to their home a few months later.
- If it’s a non-reciprocal exchange, your guest will give you GuestPoints for each night they stay with you. In your conversation with your guest, you can discuss the amount of GuestPoints for the exchange.
A HomeExchange Tip: “For each night spent at your home your guest gives you GuestPoints. In this way, you can gain more and more GuestPoints to use for longer holidays in the future.”
Frequently Asked Questions Before Receiving Guests
- Am I obligated to accept anyone who asks to stay at my home?
No, you are free to choose which people come to your home and whose requests you accept. Try to set up a time to speak by Skype or phone if you are interested, and don’t hesitate to decline requests that don’t interest you. The important thing is just to reply, whether it’s yes or no, so that your profile stays visible.
- Can I host if I’m renting my home?
Yes, home exchange is legal for both renters and owners.
- How can I be sure to trust my guest?
If you wish, you can host only verified members. You can also look your guest’s ratings from previous hosts if they have already done exchanges. The simplest thing is to communicate with each other: call and chat!
- Can I choose the periods I host?
Yes, indicate in your calendar when you’d like to host by adding “GuestWanted” periods.
- Can I host while I’m at home?
Yes, you can host people in a guest room while you’re home: specify this in your profile and let them know what parts of the home will be available to them when they write to you.
- Does my home have to be perfectly tidy? What should I do with my valuables?
Your home should be prepared as it would be for a friend. If you know you are more lax about cleaning, it can be nice to let your guests know to avoid surprises. On the other hand, if cleanliness is highly important to you and you have specific preferences about how your home should be kept, tell your guests this too, so they’ll leave your home the way you like it.
- Who pays the cleaning if it’s done by a professional?
You are welcome to ask your guests to pay for cleaning services, but generally this is only for longer stays.
- Does my assurance cover me?
As a host you can require your guests to take out insurance through our partner, MAIF Insurance Company. Thus, if your guest breaks something in your home, the insurance will reimburse it.
- Can the security deposit for my home be used if my guest breaks something?
Yes, HomeExchange will mediate any requests to use the deposit. If there’s a problem, call Member Services directly at +44 20 38 08 38 09 and we’ll be happy to help.
- If my guest took out insurance and breaks something in my home what should I do?
- Contact your guest asking him to make a statement by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Notify HomeExchange of the incident and attach photos and/or the bill (for example, for a repair or dry cleaning), specifying the ID number of the exchange.
- Can I host in my second home?
- Can we exchange cars?
What Happens if There’s A Probem: HomeExchange’s Safety Features
To ensure you exchange your home in security, HomeExchange offers the following optional services:
1. Verification: For 25€ HomeExchange will verify members’ identity in order to guarantee greater trust between members. All HomeExchange’s verified members have sent us a proof of address and of identity. As a host, you can then decide to only be contacted by other verified members.
The verification is an optional paid service for 25€. On the website you can identify verified members by the green check mark on the map and on their profile.
2. Security Deposit: when you set up an exchange you can select the amount of the deposit on your home. So if there’s a problem, such as a broken glass or poor tidying up at the end of the exchange, the deposit can be used to cover it.
The deposit is an optional paid service. In general, hosts choose the cost according to the size of their home, between 200 and 1,000 euros. This money is put on hold on the guest’s account throughout the exchange, and at the end of the exchange the host chooses to release the hold or to maintain it and discuss with HomeExchange and their guest regarding any problem.
3. Insurance: With our partner, MAIF Insurance Company, HomeExchange offers hosts the possibility to ask their guests to take out insurance for their stay. This insurance covers cancellation and damages to your home.
A Tip from Blogger @helloImene: “The advantage of HomeExchange is the system of the security deposit and insurance because it allows you to leave in peace.”
Establishing A Relationship of Trust
Here are some recommendations to get to know other members.
- Once someone contacts you, get to know one another through the messaging system.
- We then advise you to call each other or Skype to further discuss the details of the exchange.
A Tip from Blogger @helloImene:
Isn’t it difficult to put your trust in strangers?
“It’s funny, I’ve never asked myself the question! In organising an exchange, we build a relationship of trust from the beginning, in sending each other messages and speaking by phone. Home exchange is really based on trust: we take care of another’s home as we would our own.”
Preparing for Your Guest’s Arrival
How to get the keys to your guest? You could send them by mail, but this should be done quite a bit ahead of time (at least ten days prior to the exchange). A trusted person such as a neighbor or nearby shopkeeper can also serve as intermediary to pass on the keys, or you could fix a time to meet up to give them the keys directly. Just before you leave, make sure to have a Plan B, keeping in mind that often trains and planes can be off-schedule! Discuss somewhere to leave the keys just in case.
- Contact Information
Always exchange phone numbers before the exchange so that you can reach each other if need be.
- Linens and Other Details
If you think of any important issues that might come up, discuss them! Don’t forget to inform your guest if they will need to bring sheets and/or towels.
- Practical Information About Your Home
Tell your guest where to find the Wifi password, how to use appliances in the kitchen, etc. If there are any technical aspects to your home (pool, garage door, security alarm…) leave a note with instructions.
Let your guest know how the cleaning should be done, especially if you have any special requests. Guests are expected to tidy up before leaving unless they are paying for a cleaning service, so it’s important to let them know how to use and where to find cleaning supplies.
If your pets will be staying at home during the exchange, discuss their care with your guests.
- Tourist Information
The best rated hosts often leave tips for their guests about how to use public transport and local tourist attractions or good restaurants, etc. It can be nice to write out some recommendations for your first guests and keep them around for future guests.
If you are exchanging cars, don’t forget to discuss the details of the insurance and petrol. Tips about where to park are also appreciated!
Do you (guest or host) have any particular needs during your stay? Allergies? Particularities?
How to Attract More Exchange Requests
- Add a maximum of information and photos to your profile.
- If you live in a less touristy area, add photos and descriptions of nearby towns, attractions of the region, and fun activities that might interest your guests.
- Add a “GuestWanted” period to your calendar for the dates you’d like to host.
- Try using the search filters: the “reverse search” is especially helpful in finding members who might be interested in a reciprocal exchange.
- Get verified: verified members appear higher in the search results.
Once you’ve done some non-reciprocal exchanges and accumulated GuestPoints, you can use them to travel to another member’s home through the HomeExchange network. Now that you’re ready to host…