3 Ways to Use Your Home to Make Money, Save Money, and Have Adventure
Though you could ostensibly arrange a home swap a million ways, including the least formal (a listing on Craigslist; a flyer you tack up on a bulletin board somewhere), more secure and comprehensive services exist. Those too are myriad, but for purposes of this article, we’ve targeted three. One is an established website where homeowners look to trade homes with other homeowners for vacationing. The next is a fairly new and inventive service linking travelers to you, whether you want to offer a room, a studio apartment, a cottage, or your whole home for temporary stays. The final website serves vacation home owners only: it’s a network where 2nd home owners can trade with other 2nd home owners. All three illustrate how a home can save you money, make you money, and add adventure to your life.
This is an internationally established website with more than 40,000 well detailed listings for homeowners wishing to swap homes with other homeowners. Want to go to Paris? Why not trade your place in San Francisco? The benefits are clear: no hotel fees, an actual home to call base camp as you explore your vacation destination, and the experience of truly living there.
As an owner, you may list your home, with unlimited photos and detailed information, for free for one year. After this, you pay $9.95 a month for a basic membership and $41.76 for a gold membership. Home Exchange.com guarantees you will participate in a successful swap your first year, or your second year will also be free of charge. Check out the listings, the service, testimonials and success stories here. (Photo of Paris apartment via HomeAway.com.)
An ingenious new service, AirBnB allows you to rent out any part of your house for any portion of time to anyone you like. Free to list, the site connects travelers looking for a place to stay with homeowners willing to provide (for a price). You could rent out anything from a single room to your whole home. You won’t pay anything unless someone books your rental, at which point AirBnB collects 3% of each accepted reservation. (Guests also incur a charge, but that’s not your problem). The site then transfers funds directly to you.
The uniqueness of this site comes from its community style reviews: under each listing, guests leave formal reviews, rating the location on a variety of qualities. But hosts too get to review the guests, so as an owner, you can select only guests who have successfully stayed elsewhere, with glowing reviews. This adds security and peace of mind on both ends. Additionally, AirBnB offers a $1,000,000 host guarantee as insurance. Now, add that to free professional photography and no wonder AirBnB is an international success.
Note: In light of recent press criticizing AirBnB, your safest bet is to a) alert neighbors if you're hosting a guest and b) make sure your transaction doesn't violate any city codes or tax laws.
This site caters to vacation home owners who want to try out a vacation somewhere else. Got a sweet cabin in Steamboat Springs, CO (such as this one pictured here, courtesy of The Vacation Exchange) but want to frolic in the warm seas of Maui, HI? This is the place to hook it all up. Since only vacation homes get listed, the dates are very flexible and the process very streamlined.
You can use this site for a swap or simply to rent your vacation home out to an interested party. Like HomeExchange.com, the first year membership is free. Subsequent fees are $59.95 annually. They also charge fees at the time of exchange or booking. You pay half as much if you book an actual swap.
These are just the tip of the ice-berg (let us know if you use something different!). But whatever route you take, it’s pretty obvious homeownership has way more going for it that building equity and tax benefits. Your home can generate income, or be your ticket to fantastic travel and adventure. So happy summer, lucky homeowners!
Anna Marie Erwert writes from both the renter and new buyer perspective, having (finally) achieved both statuses. She focuses on national real estate trends, specializing in the San Francisco Bay Area and Pacific Northwest. Follow Anna on Twitter: @AnnaMarieErwert.