How to prepare your home

  • No need to redecorate, but leave your home spotless. Dust, mop and vacuum floors, clean out the refrigerator, scour the stove and oven, and clean the windows. Make sure bathrooms are free of mold and mildew.
  • Clear away enough of your own things in drawers, closets and bathroom cupboards so your guests have room to empty their suitcases and make themselves at home.
  • Leave at least two sets of linens and towels.
  • Arrange for people to tend the garden and pool, as well as clean the house if you and your fellow exchangers have not agreed to do these chores yourselves.
  • Write your house and car insurance companies to inform them of the exchange dates. Your home insurer is likely to consider the presence of house guests to be a plus, since an empty home is a target for burglars. (In fact, some insurance policies are nullified if the house is left empty for more than 30 days.) Let your auto insurer know the names and driver’s licence numbers of those who’ll be operating your car. Jack Graber, presidentof HomeLink, recommends that car exchangers increase their automobile coverage during the exchange period by lowering the deductible and raising the third-party liability.
  • Ask a friend, neighbor or family member to welcome your guests and answer questions.
  • Make sure all appliances are in good working order. Our home swap provided the catalyst to buy a much-needed new dishwasher and lawn mower.
  • Lock away any valuables and important papers.
  • Compile a guide to your home and surroundings, including recommended local restaurants and attractions, nearby public tennis courts, swimming pools, golf courses, pool and garden maintenance, when trash goes out, phone numbers of doctors, dentists, plumbers, electricians, babysitters, the nearest hospital.
  • Avoid misunderstandings by having a written agreement about exchange dates, the number of people involved, use of the car, and who pays what in terms of utility and long-distance bills, etc.
  • Leave the makings of a simple meal and a small welcome gift — for example, a bottle of wine or a guidebook on your area.