Q: We have three 'on-going' non-simultaneous exchanges (we owe two weeks to a South African family, and one week to a couple in Ealing. We're owed one week by a couple in Greenwich). What length of time is 'reasonable' before exchangers feel they can say that their duty is completed and they will not be under any obligation to accept a return visit?
We went to Cape Town in November 2009 and we're now able to return the hospitality when they come here next June/July i.e. nearly 3 years! No problem with that - we want to help of course and we're glad they can come over, but what happens if, in the meantime, we sell our house or at least put it on the market? How obliged are we to delay this? Re. the Ealing exchangers: great exchange over two years ago and we got to know the couple well, but we still owe them a week and they haven't made a request. Again, no real problem and we'd like to reciprocate, but how long is it fair to wait? Re. Greenwich: we're owed a week from over a year ago but it's the couple's only home and they can't always get away for a holiday, so we would have to go there when they're away themselves. - John H.
A: From feedback from members who have had non-simultaneous home exchanges, most agree on both sets of dates for the exchanges before the first exchange takes place. If the members hosting (so to speak) the first exchange are unsure when they will be able to take up their side of the exchange, it’s best to at least try to pin them down to a period, say within two years, to do so when at the early stages of planning the non-simultaneous exchange. In this way, you won’t feel the obligation hanging over you indefinitely when other events or obligations (house move, illness, etc) could make fulfilling your side of the bargain difficult if left too long.
There may be reasons why the second exchange party can’t always take up their part of the exchange within an originally agreed time frame and, of course, if you can still accommodate them later on (as you are with the South Africans), that’s great but, if ever time is moving on and members you owe an exchange to haven’t got back to you with dates, let them know if, as in your case, you are planning to put your house on the market and need to know if they can arrange their visit within a certain period. If they still can’t offer firm dates, then you shouldn’t feel obligated indefinitely or held back from selling your home.
In the case of an exchange owing to you, especially when exchanging to the family’s only home that limits the times it can be available, it’s probably best to just ask them to let you know whenever there are any times they are planning to be away and their home will be empty so that you can arrange your exchange during one of those periods that’s convenient for you. If the family can’t get away too often, this will limit your options but hopefully you will find a period (even if not for the full length of time that they enjoyed in your home) to have your break in Greenwich.
It’s hard to give any set ‘rules’ on how to organise non-simultaneous exchanges when these will vary so much depending on members’ circumstances but I hope this has given you some ideas on setting time frames for exchanges to take place when arranging further such exchanges.