It’s been a couple of years since I last addressed the very important topic of dates to look out for when browsing home exchange offers. As this still, understandably, causes confusion, it’s time to look again at this crucial issue.
There can be so many types of dates to keep straight - and it doesn't help that the format for showing dates (day, month, year) varies in different countries. I hope this helps:
Dates Available - these are the dates that a member wants to arrange an exchange and are generally shown as ranges of dates, e.g. Mar 10 - June 10 would indicate that the member wants an exchange sometime between March and June 2010 (the length of exchange is shown separately). A listing may show more than one range of dates as members can often consider exchanges at different times during the year. When a member can be flexible on dates, Dates Available will be shown as 'Open to Offers'.
What to look out for: Dates Available, when shown as a range of dates, should always include the year. If only months are shown, there's no way of knowing if the member wants an exchange this year, next year or had wanted an exchange last year – or even in 2006. *Important: if you see a blank space rather than a range of dates or ‘open to offers’, this generally means that the dates the member wanted to exchange are now past. This doesn’t necessarily mean that such a member won’t be interested in future exchanges (often members forget to update dates) but, too many listings showing no dates is likely to mean that many listings are very old and are there to ‘bulk out’ the numbers. Don’t be fooled by this old trick!
Join or Registration Date - this is the date a member joined or renewed and is important as it clearly shows how long the listing has already been in circulation. You should be able to see this date in all listings.
Expiry Date - this is the date a membership will expire and, if not renewed on or before this date, should no longer be displayed. This is a very important date as, in conjunction with the Join date, it enables you to see at a glance how long any listing is in circulation.
What to look out for: no listings with expired membership dates should be shown. Members are generally most active in looking for exchanges during the first few weeks of their membership and very long membership periods can mean that many listings in circulation are no longer available. It is for this reason that the longest Home Base Holidays membership period is two years.
Note: join and expiry dates are details that you should be able to see in all listings before joining. Without this basic information, you have no means of telling how up-to-date listings are, and, if this is the case, total numbers quoted are next to useless.
Listing Updated - Home Base Holidays members can update their listings whenever needed. The last date a listing was updated is not included in listings to reduce confusion. Some members will need to update offers often while others won’t and so this date is not crucial like Join and Expiry dates.
What to look out for: don't confuse Listing Updated with the Join/Registration date. ‘Listing Updated’ merely means that the member (or site owner) has changed the listing in some way on that date.
Most Recent Listings - these are listings of members who have joined or renewed recently (the time frame, e.g. ‘in the last month’ should be clearly indicated). To be fair to all members, it’s best if search results are organised showing the newest listings first (far better than alphabetically by city – great if you live in Bath, not so good if you live in York!) You should be able to re-organise search results in a number of ways according to your needs.
What to look out for: listings, described as new, should not be a mixture of new and older listings that have merely been updated unless this is clearly indicated. The separate New Listings on Home Base Holidays are members who have joined or renewed in the last 30 days, listed in order of joining with the newest listings at the top of search results.
Last Minute Offers/Hot List: members who are looking for exchanges soon, usually within the next three months.