Q: Are there any security measures we should take when arranging a swap? As everything is done on e-mail can we reassure ourselves everything is bona fide? Are there ever any 'scams' and is there any way we can avoid them? – Millie C.
A: Home Base Holidays has never had any scams reported involving home swaps (only a couple of ‘too good to be true’ New York city rental offers a few years ago that fortunately were reported and blocked before any members lost money. Note: we don’t accept rental only listings and no money changes hands with a direct home swap).
Take your time before committing to an exchange (your potential exchange partners will have the same initial concerns as you do until they have got to know you and so will understand that you will want to ask questions on various aspects of the proposed exchange before agreeing to go ahead).
Most of your arrangements will likely be done by email via your member area for convenience (and to keep a record of what you have agreed) but many members arrange a time for a phone call or two in the run-up to their exchange dates (Skype is a popular and cost-free way to do this).
For reassurance, you may wish to offer to supply personal references to potential exchange partners in return for the same. If you are a first-time exchanger, you could also try to exchange with members who have exchanged before as they will be able to supply references from, or put you in touch with, previous exchange partners who can answer any questions you have; you will see ‘experienced exchanger’ in the profiles of such members. There is also a Trip Report function available; you can access these reports on past exchanges when viewing listings (a good number of experienced exchangers have added trip reports to their listings).
If your exchange involves flights, agree to buy tickets at the same time and share your receipts (members who have paid a substantial amount for flights are very unlikely to change their minds about an agreed exchange).