Often while working with clients looking to purchase property in the Lake Tahoe or Truckee areas, I hear the following comments spoken with hesitation and concern:
“This ‘cabin’ will cost significantly more than our primary residence!”
“This home is bigger than the home we live in full time.”
“I just don’t know if we will use the cabin enough for it to make sense to purchase.”
“We are concerned that if we purchase a vacation home in Tahoe, we will be locked into only coming to Tahoe because we will feel obligated.”
Recently, while sitting on the spinning bike at Asante’ Lakeside Fitness in Tahoe City, a friend of mine hopped on the bike right next to me. I noticed how relaxed and chatty she was, all the while sporting a tan that made me look like I had just finished a year-long prison sentence. Knowing full well due to her bronze coloring that she had not spent the last few weeks in Lake Tahoe, I asked her where she had been. Well, that started the music flowin’… she and her family had just spent 3 months in Tahiti, one month in Hawaii, had been to Saint Barts in the Caribbean, Hong Kong and was soon on her way to Del Mar, CA.
Of course, I wanted to know how she made all of this possible since I was impressed that I had actually taken two one-week vacations this year already! She proceeded to elaborate on her success with home exchanges. What a fantastic way to experience the world!
Have you thought about this? You can pick the best months for skiing (arguably February and March) and the best months of the summer (again, arguably, July and August and into September) to enjoy Lake Tahoe. Then, you can plan a house exchange for the times of the year where you just want to be somewhere warm, wearing shorts and flip flops and no jacket in the evening. After all, you would not be using your home anyway, right?
Well, my friend…let’s just call her GT (short for Globetrotter)…continued on, saying that all of her home exchanges have been very successful. In fact, she stated that it was the best thing she and her family had ever done!
There are different concepts when it comes to home exchanges. The three that appear to be the most popular concepts are as follows:
- A true house exchange, like in the movie The Holiday with Carmen Diaz. It works like this: you exchange your home for a home in another area at the same time. Oh, and did I mention you will fall hopelessly and blissfully in love with somebody beautiful while you are at your home exchange destination? GT has had tremendous success with this concept (not the falling in love part) at www.homeexchange.com.
- An exchange whereby you list your home for a certain number of weeks with a company like 3rd Home and you earn points based on the number of weeks that your home is listed. Each home is given a ranking (designated by a ‘key’ symbol) from one to five ‘keys’. So, if your home is a dump and only worth one key, you would have to put it up for exchange for 10 weeks to be able to get a total of 2 weeks in a 5-key home. So, the difference here is that it is not necessarily one family exchanging their home with another family at the same time. It is based on a key (point) system.
- The final idea is similar to the 3rd Home concept, however in order to participate in the program, your home must be a second or vacation home. The Vacation Exchange Network is an example of this. The concept behind this is that the second or vacation home is in an area that would be a desirable vacation destination. I think this is a good idea…unless you meet someone like I did yesterday that said they have a vacation home in Brown’s Valley. Brown’s Valley? Even she admitted that it was in the middle of nowhere and that there was nothing to do there. I hope those clients exchanging from France are ok with this.
GT stated that there are a few very important things to be aware of or establish when doing a home exchange in order to make it a successful and wonderful experience:
- GT prefers to have a simultaneous exchange.
- Ask for referrals
- Ask for a lot of photos
- Trust your intuition. It is a trust walk…there is no paperwork. You have to have personal savvy and be able to judge people; use common sense. GT says that over time you end up getting a referral network that helps in establishing confidence in the exchange client.
So what is the point of all this? I merely wanted to point out that this is just one more reason to own a home in beautiful Lake Tahoe. I thought I would also take this time to remind you of some other reasons:
- Because it’s Lake Tahoe!
- Unlike other vacation destinations, you have multiple seasons to take advantage of almost any outdoor activity known to man.
- Tahoe is within driving distance of large cities like Sacramento, San Francisco and Reno.
- Current tax law allows mortgage interest deduction on a primary and/or vacation home (not rental) up to $1,000,000 in purchase money loans.
- The family memories that you create will never be forgotten.
This seems to make total sense to me…you pay to own and maintain your home in Tahoe whether you use it or not. We all know that a family of four can easily drop $5,000 or $10,000 on a vacation for a week, while still paying the costs to carry your second home. Why not have ‘free’ lodging and only pay for flights, entertainment and food? Yet, you still have the freedom to use your Lake Tahoe/Truckee home whenever you want, especially during prime seasons and on powder days.
In case you are wondering, I am not endorsing any of the above companies. If you end up in some Harry Potter Hogwarts mansion, you are on your own. I suppose that the worst thing that might happen is that you show up in a beautiful country and the home that you thought you were exchanging doesn’t really exist! Again, you are on your own. I assume no responsibility for any mishaps, only for the fantastic experiences.
Just a thought…and another good reason to own in beautiful Lake Tahoe!
JoAnn McDonnell says
We have done two home exchanges for our Tahoe home through seniorshomeexchange.com, and both worked out well. By the time we got to the exchange, we had traded so many emails and phone calls that we felt like old friends. If someone gets a very bad review, they get kicked off the site, so it is good to find someone who has done an exchange. We did have a much better place than we got, but since it is only for a week, it didn’t really matter.
Mary Curtis says
Your website is fabulous! Go Girl!