In some of the hardest hit markets around the country, homeowners have discovered a creative new way to sell their homes – through online house exchanges.
House swapping originally developed as an affordable vacation option, wherein homeowners from different places would get together and swap their homes for a short period of time. This helped both parties reduce their vacation costs, and gave both an insider’s view of another community.
The practice of house swapping grew to be quite popular in the 70s, and is rising today in a new form. Permanent house swapping is based on the same idea (homeowners switch places), but in this case, each owner buys the other person’s home.
So why are property exchanges becoming popular today? Many U.S. markets are seeing an influx of inventory but not a lot of demand, which makes it very difficult to sell. In addition, the economic downturn has resulted in large numbers of job loss, leaving homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments.
Those with rising financial pressures are motivated to sell quickly, so they often lower their asking price, and work with a real estate agent. Because times are tough right now, permanent house swapping is a trend that’s gaining momentum because it brings together motivated buyers and sellers.
To find prospective swappers, homeowners join one of the many websites dedicated to real estate matchmaking. Sites like OnlineHouseTrading.com, DomuSwap.com, GoSwap.com, and even Craigslist.com allow owners to post an advertisement of their property and specify what they’re looking for in return. Some sites are free to use, while others charge fees to access full listing details.
Many of the swapping sites also feature posts from international users, for people who want to look for a home outside American borders.
People who are trying to sell their home on their own, as well as those working with a realtor, are feeling hopeful about online house swapping as a new marketing arena. Hard numbers aren’t available yet to tell us how many successful exchanges have occurred, but hundreds of people are joining these sites each month. Of course, the more members each site has, the more potential buyers there are. This increases your chances of having a successful home exchange.
One caveat involved with house swapping is the fact that each party must be willing to live in the other person’s area. Matching location, price, and property needs can be difficult, especially if either party has a family that’s moving in tow. Another thing to keep in mind is that house exchanges aren’t straight trades—some houses simply cost more than others, regardless of whether the property’s up for trade or not.
Each homeowner officially sells the house to the other, which means that all the standard paperwork, home inspections, closing costs, and financing issues are the same as in any other real estate transaction. This is why it’s still important to have a real estate agent working with you. He or she can take care of the details of the sale, advertise your home using these swap sites, and market the home using other venues.