In a new Home Base Holidays listing in Canada today (see exchange offer in London, Ontario), the member writes: 'We like to live in an orderly and clean home, but are not fanatical about tidiness. We respect our own belongings and would respect yours.'
This new member's comment prompted me to remind all members of the importance of ensuring, as far as possible, that potential exchange partners have similar attitudes as you do to housekeeping. Although the vast majority of home swaps work very well indeed for both parties, people do have a wide variety of lifestyles and a difference in housekeeping standards is the most common cause of disappointment in an exchange.
It's unreasonable to expect spotless, five star hotel standards when swapping to a 'real' home, especially with a busy family with children, and most lived-in homes have a few things that don't quite work. These, on their own, are very unlikely to be considered a problem by even the most fastidious housekeeper (especially if detailed instructions are included in a house manual or on sticky notes on appliances). However, if there are a number of issues in a home, then, even the smallest quirks that would normally be overlooked can add to cumulative disappointment, especially if the exchange guests had taken great care to prepare their own home thoroughly before the exchange.
Some problems stem more from a miss-match of members than negligence on anyone’s part. Although you will want to describe your home in a positive way in your description (and include the best views of your home in photos), it’s better to be upfront about anything not quite up to scratch (such as rooms overdue for re-decoration, worn carpets, elderly appliances, etc), and to describe your own lifestyle (the second description box is a good place for this). You’ll see some members make it clear that they have ‘busy lives with active kids' and are 'laidback about housework’ to - I have seen this once or twice - ‘I have white carpets and love vacuuming’! By including such information (and looking for it in listings), and getting to know potential exchange partners to gauge compatibility before agreeing to swap homes, you will maximise your changes of a successful exchange.
Experienced exchangers, who've had a number of very positive exchange experiences (the norm!), can sometimes become blasé and cut corners in arrangements before an exchange. Although this is understandable, it's still important to take your time, sharing information (and references from past exchange partners if available) to ensure your 100% home exchange success rate continues.
Whatever your lifestyle, it is important to ensure your home is clean and tidy for your guests (especially kitchens and bathrooms - other people's grime always seems much nastier than your own). To take the pressure off, members often get extra help for a big clean-up just before an exchange, leaving only small jobs like emptying/cleaning bins until the last minute.
First impressions of a well cared for home are important and will go a long way to ensuring a happy exchange experience for your guests.
Now have a look through all the lovely home exchange offers!