A lot of travelers prefer to swap houses with another traveler-slash-homeowner than to stay in a hotel. After all, it is more economical, and it’s a fun way to experience life away from the norm. However, as a real estate investor, should you participate in house swaps, or are they a waste of your time (and potential rent)? In this article, we’ll talk about the basics of house swaps, and tell you why it’s not the best option for rental property owners.
What Is a Home Swap?
A home swap is when two homeowners swap homes for a temporary period. It is one way for homeowners to have a vacation with the comforts of home and without the typical travel costs. Home swaps are short-term agreements between two parties of vacation-goers, wherein one party stays in your home, while you stay in theirs. It also works for remote workers that need a place to stay for a short time.
Why Do People Swap Homes?
Change of Scenery. Home swaps allow people to live in a place that they would otherwise be unable to stay. For example, a homeowner from the big city would probably want to swap homes with a homeowner by the beach, and the other way around. To put it plainly, it allows them to live in a new environment. After all, home swaps are popular over the vacation season.
More Economical. One reason why people swap homes is that it allows them to save whenever they travel. When you swap homes, you do not pay your “swap partner” a penny. You can live on their property for free and vice versa. It also eliminates the need to dine out, as you can cook in your swap partner’s kitchen.
Live Like Locals. Home swaps also allow vacationers to live like locals. Since you’re not staying in a hotel, and instead you’re in a close-knit community, you can dip your toes into their culture. This is something you wouldn’t be able to do if you were in a touristy area.
One-of-a-Kind Experiences. Have you ever wanted to stay in a vacation home in the middle of nowhere? Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to live in a tiny house? With a home swap, you will finally be able to live in places that are off-the-beaten-path.
Put Your Vacant Home to Use. Finally, if you have a vacant second home, you can partner with a “home swapper”. It’s worth mentioning that you don’t need to swap your main home – you can swap any home that you own. That way, your second home does not have to be vacant, as this can attract thieves and all sorts of criminals.
How Are Home Swaps Done?
There are three ways to do a home swap:
- Simultaneous Exchange. This is where you swap homes with your swap partner at the same time. You live in their house, and they live in yours.
- Non-simultaneous Exchange. This is where one swap partner starts the swap first. For example, you can live in your swap partner’s vacation home in May, and they can live in yours in August. In other words, one swap partner saves the swap for a later date or a more convenient time.
- Hospitality Exchange. This is where one swap partner lives in the house of their swap partner while they’re in the house.
Should You Swap Homes?
Home swaps can be fun, but there are drawbacks to them, too. For one, who knows who your swap partners are? You will have to vet them to know whether or not they’re “worthy” of the swap. It’s also time-consuming, as you need to coordinate with your swap partner on the desired dates.
If you don’t want a stranger to live in your house, yet you still want to swap, let them live in your second house or your short-term rental instead. That way, you won’t have to worry that your swap partners will poke around.
Should Rental Property Owners Do Home Swaps?
A house swap is not a way to make money. If you want to fill your short-term rental, you don’t have to do it via a home swap. Remember, a short-term rental is not your residence, nor is it a second home. It’s a real estate investment.
It would be better to partner with a property management firm that can help you find suitable tenants at any time. If you were to put your property on a home swap site, you’d have to participate in the swap, as well. In short, you’ll have to live at your tenant’s property at some point.
Tips on Managing a Short-Term Rental
You don’t have to use house swap services to ensure your short-term rental isn’t vacant. All it takes is proper property management to guarantee that your rental property is rented out year-long. On the other hand, short-term rentals offer more flexibility but there’re certain short-term rental laws and legal restrictions that you need to be obeyed. Here’re some tips for successfully renting out your short-term rental property:
- Hire a Professional Photographer. Want your short-term rental to stand out? Get a professional photographer to take pictures of the property, focusing on its best features, may it be the pool, the patio, or the postcard-worthy views. This will make people want to stay in your short-term rental – stat.
- Stay on Top of Maintenance. No one wants to rent an Airbnb with a musty bathroom. Stay on top of maintenance to ensure your tenants have a positive stay at your property. Remember, all it takes is one bad review to break your reputation.
- Offer Homely Amenities. There’s a reason why your short-term tenants chose to rent than stay at a hotel – they want to feel at home. Your tenants will feel more comfortable if it had a few heartfelt add-ons, such as towels, complimentary tours, and more.
- Hire a Property Management Agent. Running a short-term rental can be time-consuming, but with the help of a professional property management company, you won’t have to deal with the day-to-day responsibilities. Your property management agent will coordinate check-ins, collect rent, and more. They will also ensure that your property is rented out every time a tenant leaves in order to prevent vacancies.
The Bottom Line
A house swap can be a fun way to experience your vacation, but for real estate investors, it’s not a profitable route. You can participate in a house swap for personal purposes, but if your goal is to generate rental income, stay away from these sites. Instead, partner with a professional property management firm in South Florida.
At Luxury Property Care, we provide expert property management services in South Florida and surrounding areas. Contact us at (561) 944 – 2992 today. You can also complete our contact form for more information.