What is Home Exchange?

Exterior view of 3-story luxury home in the evening, with a view of the pool terrace.

According to Wikipedia, “Home exchange, also known as “house swapping”, is a form of lodging in which two parties agree to offer each other homestays for a set period. It can include an exchange of the entire home or just a room. The length of the swap can vary from a weekend to over a year.”

More recently, home exchange has become a valuable tool for homeowners to leverage their vacation property for world travel. Direct exchanges were the first type to gain popularity, in which one property owner directly swapped their home with another during the same period. While a great way to see new sites with the comforts of home, direct exchanges don’t allow for flexibility of location or time frame. Out of the need for more options and not having to rely on other’s schedules, reciprocal home exchange was created. 

A reciprocal home exchange means both owners receive the same value for their exchange. Additionally, indirect home exchange means homeowners do not have to exchange homes simultaneously. This eliminates the need to compare schedules and utilize a credit system. Homeowners use credits to “cash in” for stays on a particular marketplace. This is how THIRDHOME is structured, creating a trusted club environment. By combining indirect and reciprocal exchange, homeowners have the peace of mind that they receive the same value as the guests they host and allows maximum flexibility. 

A Way to Leverage your Investment with Home Exchange

Home exchange offers immense value. Why pay high nightly rental rates for incredible accommodations if you can leverage unused time in your second home for a nominal exchange fee? You can also extend the hospitality and invite friends and family to join a home stay versus a traditional hotel stay. 


Enjoy the Comforts of Home When you Travel

Home exchange is an excellent option if you prefer the comforts that come with staying in a single-family home. A home stay offers an air of privacy that you cannot find with traditional travel accommodations, such as hotels. Many times, travelers don’t want to share common spaces like a lobby, pool, outdoor living. You can be assured that the homes you visit in the THIRDHOME portfolio are equipped with all the creature comforts you have become accustomed to when staying in your own vacation home

Luxury Kitchen with high-end appliances overlooking the ocean

Visit New Destinations and Live Like a Local

Staying in a host’s private residence means access to their wealth of knowledge about that community. Live like a local and enjoy an insider scoop on the locals’ best-kept-secrets, must-do activities, where to eat, shop, or visit. Focus on the memories you can create when you can become immersed in your new home away from home.

An Elevated Experience

Reciprocal home stays can offer a level of trust that you can’t always rely on through a rental program, where technically anyone can have access to your home. As a member of a private vacation exchange, like THIRDHOME, every member has skin in the game, and you can trust that whoever stays in your home will treat it as they would their own. THIRDHOME has added another layer of trust through its robust, two-sided review system that keeps everyone accountable. Not only does the guest review their stay, but the host provides a review of the guest. 

Luxury-Only Home Exchange

Unlike other home exchange programs, THIRDHOME was explicitly designed to facilitate reciprocal luxury property exchanges and requires specific membership criteria. The average home value is $2.4M, and at a minimum, the home value must be $1,000,000. It is never with a member’s primary residence but instead involves exchanging a single-family home, luxury condominium, investment property, or fractional resort property. Homes must be in desirable areas, with fine appointments, furnishings, and amenities. 

Click here to see what our current members have to say about their trip with THIRDHOME. If this sounds like something you’d like to be a part of and you’re ready to learn more about using your second home to travel to a THIRDHOME, let’s talk! Because we want to ensure that our program is a mutual fit, there’s no pressure to commit. 

The Origins of THIRDHOME and How it Works

Pluge pool overlooking golf course

How it Began

The concept for this home exchange program began to take shape back in 1986. After having been one of the top Real Estate Agents on Hilton Head, THIRDHOME Chairman & CEO Wade Shealy co-founded one of the largest and most successful real estate firms in South Carolina. Wade kept noticing that no matter how excited clients initially were about their second home purchase, almost all of them were back in his office within five years wanting to sell. As his buyers originally purchased vacation homes with grand dreams of it being part of generations to come, they were now ready to sell because it had become a burden. Visits to the second home felt more like an obligation rather than a well-deserved getaway. When he asked, Why? It was always the same answer:

“As much as we’ve loved having a place on Hilton Head, we feel we’ve seen and done everything there is to do. We’d like to look at buying somewhere else, so we can experience new things on our trips.”

Wouldn’t it be great if owning a luxury second home in a desirable location would allow you to use other homes all over the world? Daring to do things differently, Shealy founded THIRDHOME in 2010, with a few friends and clients being the first to sign up for this innovative home exchange program.

What is a typical THIRDHOME home?

THIRDHOME members are owners of single-family vacation homes, luxury condominiums, or time at luxury fractional resorts. The average home value is $2.4 million, with a minimum home value of $1,000,000. Additionally, it must be in a desirable location with quality furnishings, appointments, and amenities. When you join this exclusive community, you will find people just like you who respect and treat your home as they would their own. 


How to Join

Upon completing the enrollment form, our Member Experience team will be in touch to discuss your application. We want to find out if The Club is a mutual fit and home exchange is for you. We carefully guide you through the enrollment, and before your membership is activated, we provide a thorough onboarding to ensure you know how to get the most out of membership. Our platform has lots of user-friendly tools that help make finding your next dream vacation a reality. Our number one goal is to help you travel the world and create memorable experiences. 

Luxury Kitchen with high-end appliances overlooking the ocean

Booking a Stay

Members have access to reserve any home in The Club as long as they have enough “Keys” or travel credits. You earn Keys upon depositing time in your own home. The more desirable the time you give, the more Keys you get. An interactive world map provides a birds-eye view to explore the world. Our dynamic website also allows members to set criteria for the kind of stay they desire- private homes, estates, full-service, pet friendly, and yachts, for example.The more flexible your schedule, the more options you will have. Simply go online, browse, click and instantly reserve a stay. 

Outstanding Member Service

Service is an integral part of membership in THIRDHOME. From the minute you call to inquire about joining until you are an active member of The Club, we are here to guide you along the way and to help you get the most out of The Club. Our number one goal is to help you travel! With teams in The US and Spain representing five nations and seven languages, we are well prepared to provide you a fantastic experience for your local or international vacation needs.  

Today, with over 12,500 properties in 95 countries, we have become a trusted way for owners worldwide to leverage time in their vacation homes to travel the world. Don’t just take our word for it, click here to see what others have to say.

We can’t wait to welcome you to The Club.

Everything you need to know about Home Exchange:

The history, how to get started, and how it works with THIRDHOME.

History of Home Exchange blog THIRDHOME

How Did It Start?

The concept of “home exchange” or “home sharing” came in to play in the 1950s when teachers and professors were looking for a less-costly way to travel during their sabbaticals and holiday months. They would connect with other teachers, in a country or city far away, to discuss swapping residences by mail. As this cost-effective method for finding accommodations became more popular, the idea spread to other communities, with similar vacation schedules, who were willing to exchange their homes. Printed catalogs were distributed to limited destinations and swaps were coordinated via handwritten mail.

As the Internet was evolving, companies began to capitalize on the idea, and home sharing has continued to change the travel industry ever since. The first home exchange site was officially launched in 1995. In the mid-2000s, vacation rental companies like Airbnb and HomeAway made the idea of renting someone else’s private home more palatable, paving the way for vacation home exchange sites to grow. Home exchange became popular when companies, such as HomeLink, began to expand their networks, in the early 1980s, to individuals with occupations that allowed similar travel flexibility.

History of Home Exchange blog THIRDHOME

Benefits of Home Exchange

You may be wondering why you’d consider a home exchange rather than booking a hotel or a vacation rental. Here are a few reasons why:

First, home exchanges can cut down on your accommodation costs quite a bit! Home exchange isn’t exactly free and companies usually require a fee to facilitate the exchange. For example, a luxury vacation rental home in Florida can cost around $5,000 per week during peak season. With THIRDHOME, you could exchange time at your second home for a week in Florida and pay a much less significant, one-time exchange fee (THIRDHOME’s range from $395-$1,295 for an entire week). For this example, that’s upwards of $3,000 saved that could be spent on travel, activities and dining.

The second reason why a home exchange might be appealing is that the experience of staying in another person’s home allows you the opportunity to explore the destination around you as a local. The owner can provide you with restaurant or activity recommendations and help you discover local gems, typically not frequented by tourists.

Another major benefit is having access to resorts and resort-style properties. Some home exchange companies have partnerships with resorts where fractional owners can exchange time they have at their resort residences, rather than fully owning a second home.

Lastly, it can help address buyer’s remorse. By about the 5th year of owning a second home, buyers begin to question if they made a good investment and are ready to start traveling somewhere besides their second home. Being part of an exchange, allows you to parlay that single vacation home into countless others.

Drawbacks of Home Exchange

Make sure to trust the company you choose to exchange with to ease your mind when it comes to how your guests will treat your home. When staying in another person’s home during an exchange, you must be aware of the potential downsides that might not appeal to you. You may encounter personal paraphernalia, family photos, or unfriendly neighbors. When hosting a guest, just like a vacation rental, be aware that there is potential that the guest might cause damage to your home. That’s why it’s essential to join an exchange club that offers a trustworthy and verified membership-base. THIRDHOME addresses this concern by partnering with third party security and verification companies to assist in vetting home owners before they ever even become a member.

Copy of How home exchange works infographics (3)

Primary Home vs. Vacation Home Exchange vs. Fractional Ownerships

Thanks to movies like The Holiday (2006), home exchanging has continued to grow and evolve over the years. In the movie, two characters swap homes for two weeks. One lives in Surrey, England while the other lives in Los Angeles. This swap, is an example of primary home exchange, and is defined as the usage of an owner’s primary home that they live in full time. A vacation home exchange, on the other hand, involves the exchange of a second home, investment property, or fractional resort property. THIRDHOME is a home exchange that facilitates vacation home exchanges.

Reciprocal vs. Direct Exchange

A direct exchange is where two homeowners coordinate calendars to stay in each other’s properties during the same period. Direct exchanges were popular among academic groups in the 1950s because academia shared similar schedules in which they could travel. Those outside of academia didn’t have the same flexibility in schedule, so the trend didn’t catch on. Eventually, the Internet allowed exchange companies to create marketplaces where direct exchanges weren’t necessary. A reciprocal exchange or indirect exchange, allows more flexibility for an owner by utilizing a credit system. THIRDHOME, for example, uses the reciprocal exchange model by awarding Keys to owners when they deposit stays. This, in turn, allows an owner to use their credits (Keys in our case) during a time that suits them.


How Home Exchange Works With THIRDHOME

THIRDHOME is a private luxury-only home exchange club that provides its members a way to get value out of unused time at their second home. What sets THIRDHOME apart from other home exchange companies is that there is criteria for joining, including home value, location and quality appointments.

Even more importantly, our membership base is made up of second homeowners who share a mutual respect for each other’s homes. They follow the Golden Rule of home exchanging: Respect other member’s homes, as if it were your own. Our peer-to-peer review requirements applies to both the guest and the host experiences, which helps to keep the system in check, further enhancing the trust and safety elements of The Club.

Instead of members having to coordinate exchanges directly with those they’d like to visit, hoping to agree on a mutual date, they deposit available weeks into the collective to earn travel credits called “Keys”. The more often members deposit, the more Keys they earn, allowing them to travel to other properties within The Club. The Key value of a week is based on the value of the property as well as the desirability of the stay. Once you’ve booked another home using your Keys, simply pay the nominal THIRDHOME exchange fee and your reservation is confirmed.

Is Home Exchange For You?

Home exchange isn’t for everyone and there are benefits as well as drawbacks. But there are plenty of companies out there to make sure that you have a positive and beneficial experience when participating in home exchange. At THIRDHOME, we strive to make sure each and every one of our members has a luxury-filled, incredible experience every time they travel with us. Our team is dedicated to helping you see the world from a different perspective while also getting the most value out of your second home.

Interested in learning more about THIRDHOME Exchange?

Click the button below to get in touch with our team and learn more about home exchanging and how it works with THIRDHOME.

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