How to Arrange Home Exchanges

Exploring your Possibilities

Our happiest members are those with flexible expectations. Each year they approach the program with an attitude best characterized by the expression, “Let’s see what the HomeLink listings have to offer this year!” Members with rigid time and destination requirements will be disappointed because each exchange calls for dovetailed wishes at both ends.Start by reviewing the exchange offers in the online members database. Have a good atlas on hand. It’s likely you will find very interesting offers that you have not considered before.

Your First Contacts

Initial contacts don’t imply a commitment towards an exchange. They only express a desire to explore such a possibility. It is generally understood that, should both members be interested, further communication will follow. Select a list of 20 or more listings that are of interest to you. You will have your best chances with those listings that indicate a desire to visit Canada, but don’t limit yourself to only these. Include those seeking USA or ‘Open’. We recommend that you prepare a standard letter or template in your HomeLink webmail ‘Messaging’ account. You can paste a template into each message, and personalize your offer with the recipients’ name(s) and relevant details.

Duration and Dates of an Exchange

Try to be flexible with your dates and duration. If you are interested in a long stay, indicate so in your listing, but also indicate that you are open to shorter periods. At times, it’s easier to arrange several short exchanges in the same destination, than to find a member interested in a long stay at your home. Always keep your options open.

Negative Response to your Offer

Sometimes it can be frustrating not to have a response to our letters and messages. Very often this is not due to a lack of interest from other members. They may be traveling. Or they may have received so many calls and letters that they haven’t had time to answer them all.

As a basic consideration of courtesy, we do ask all members to respond as soon as possible to the correspondence received. A brief e-mail message will suffice even if it is only to say, “Thanks, but we already have made other arrangements”.

Favourable Response to your Offer

If you receive a favourable response to an exchange offer, and you are interested as well, do contact the member as soon as possible. Try to move towards the establishment of a firm exchange agreement. Many members will often agree on an exchange as soon as the first favourable opportunity is available. If a member contacts you with an exchange offer, and you would like to think about it a little more, don’t wait too long to respond. Try to make a decision, and let the other member know at your earliest convenience. A good practice is to indicate a specific time or date until which you are prepared to wait for an answer.

Establishing a Firm Agreement

Once you and your exchange partner have basically come to an exchange agreement, it’s important that this be confirmed in a clear manner. At this stage, you will already have shared a good deal of information regarding both of your homes, families and vacation plans. Communications at this point are more friendly and direct.

Home Exchange Agreement

The HomeLink Home Exchange Agreement Form is used to formalize an exchange agreement by two members. Although this is a non-commercial, personal agreement, the signing of this form establishes an understanding and formal commitment by both members to comply with their agreement. Forms are conveniently posted online in both hardcopy and electronic formats.

Automobile Exchange Agreement

Like the Home Exchange Agreement, this form is used to formalize an exchange agreement involving the members’ respective vehicles. It helps the members address all relevant factors like insurance coverage, emergency repair contacts, driving permits, distance limitations and particular responsibilities. Forms are conveniently posted online in both hardcopy and electronic formats.Good communications is an essential ingredient to a successful exchange. Try to be candid and explicit in your communications. Don’t assume the other member will understand what is important to you, if you never mention it. And in your description of items in your home, try to be detailed.

House and Car Insurance

Review the coverage of your home insurance with your insurance agent. Explain that you will have guests living in your home for a period of time, and under such conditions, would like to know if any changes to the current coverage is recommended.

If your exchange also includes the car, review the ‘guest driver’ insurance coverage with your agent. Your guests will need to have a legally valid driver’s license in Canada, and a written authorization by the owner of the car, to use it.
Also verify what will be needed for you to make use of your exchange partner’s car, while in his/her country.

Auto/Home Insurance advice

The Risks of Home Exchange

In HomeLink International we have a large number of members participating in thousands of home exchanges every year, and from time to time we do, of course, receive complaints. Although they are few, they generally have to do with poor instructions, different expectations regarding cleanliness, and similar issues.

Cancellation of Exchange

Any vacation trip implies an important effort of planning and coordination amongst family members in schedules, airline tickets, and endless details, much of it done with excitement and lots of expectations. A sudden cancellation of these plans can mean ruining one’s vacation for the entire year. In HomeLink, a capricious cancellation of a firm home exchange agreement is not acceptable, and it can lead to non-renewal of membership in HomeLink. If illness or unavoidable events make it necessary for you to cancel, contact HomeLink immediately and help us try to find another member to take your place. Never withdraw from an agreement to accept a later offer which may seem more appealing.

Exchange Cancellation Protection

If your exchange partner is forced into a last minute cancellation due to an emergency or sudden illness, you should contact us immediately. In concert with our international organizers we will assist you in seeking a substitute exchange in your intended location.You can purchase Exchange Cancellation Protection with your registration or once you have arranged an exchange. It can cover commercial accommodation if you already have booked flights and are committed to your intended destination. For complete details please contact us.

Guide for the Home : Housebook

A printed guide can include :

  •   Location of all instruction manuals for your appliances, electronic equipment, heating system, alarm/security.
  •   Time and location for trash collection.
  •   A simple drawing of the house indicating location of main water valve, main gas valve, and main electric fuse box.
  •   A list of names, addresses and phone numbers of family, neighbours and friends that can be contacted for information.
  •   Name, address and telephone number of a dentist, health clinic, plumber, electrician, etc.
  •   Addresses of nearby and recommended stores, restaurants, theatres, tourist attractions.
  •   Schedule of nearby buses and trains. Telephone number of nearest taxi service. Local maps.
  • HomeLink House Guide For Guests (pdf)
  • HomeLink House Guide For Guests (word.doc)

Conclusion of an Exchange

At the end of your exchange and before leaving your exchange partner’s home, try to leave the home just as you found it. Chairs and other furniture back in their original places. If anything has been accidentally broken, try to replace it with a new one or leave a small note explaining what has happened and offering appropriate compensation for it. A bottle of wine or some flowers with a small thank you note is a very nice gesture which will always be remembered and appreciated by your exchange partners.

Exchange Evaluation

Successful home exchange depends greatly on the good will of its participants. In an effort to maintain the high standards of quality in HomeLink International, we’d appreciate very much if you could let us know how your home exchange went. When you return to your own home, please take a few minutes to complete the Exchange Evaluation Form, conveniently posted online in both hardcopy and electronic formats.Yes, enjoying home exchange for vacations does require a little effort. Yet, a good part of this effort must only be done in your first home exchange. Future exchanges become a simple routine. And the effort is well worth it when compared to the benefits enjoyed.
With our best wishes for an exciting and wonderful vacation!
Leanne Graber
HomeLink Canada