Mar 27, 2008 3:12 pm US/Eastern

Key To Selling House May Be "Swapping It"

Reporting
Paula Ebben
BOSTON (WBZ) ― With the continued slump in the real estate market, selling a house can be a real challenge.

In fact, Sherry Crosslin tried to sell her home for more than a year. "The housing market was so slow that it looked like the only way we were going to be able to move that property was to attach it to a box of Cracker Jacks and give it to a kid going down the street."

Sherry decided to try a new approach. She listed her home on several new house swapping websites. They pair up compatible homeowners so they can literally trade their properties. Sherry found her match, Jerry Stussman, on www.domuswap.com. Sherry was looking for a retirement home in Jerry's area, and her house was closer to his son. Jerry was happy with the transaction. "I swapped for a really lovely house."

House swapping has long been used for vacation and rental properties, but experts say it's now becoming more popular for primary residences as well. On Craig's list, trade offers have tripled since property postings started two years ago. The top swapping sites now have tens of thousands of advertisements. Daniel Westbrook of www.onlinehousetrading.com says "it really works for anybody, whether you are upsizing, downsizing, or relocating." He says there are advantages to this approach in a down market. "Sellers are typically having to drastically reduce the price of the their homes and with this, they're not have to do that."

Once you register, you get a list of potential matches based on your criteria. When you find a property that interests you, simply contact the seller. Jerry says "its almost impossible not to do it legitimately. You have an opportunity to get a third party appraisal."

Although house swapping can be a solution in a tough market, there are some limitations. Dale Mattion of the National Realtors Association adds that "you don't have access to the entire marketplace, so you are only limited to the properties that are in the swapping type of environment." Experts also say that you should always visit any property in person. Money can also be be involved if one property is of greater value than the other. 

Besides OnlineHouseTrading.com and DomuSwap.com other swapping websites you might consider are GoSwap.org, DaytonaHomeTrader.com and Craigslist.org.

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