Power Up for Home Exchange


*      Traveling today means packing a spaghetti bowl of electrical supply cords for our mobile / cell phone, tablet / iPad / Kindle, digital camera, iPod.... the list goes on.  The good news with home exchange is that often the the host will have the household essentials available for you to use, so packing some of the electrical cords is simply not necessary. Many homes have a iPod dock and charger, hair dryers, and certainly most kitchen necessities.  Always good to send your host a quick note to verify what they have available. *spaghetti luggage tag from Zazzle 

For those necessary items that you need to recharge, it is important to know what 
electrical power and sockets are going to be at your destinations around the world.  If you plan on bringing your laptop, tablet, mobile phone, etc. you will want to be able to charge them while on vacation.  This helpful info-graphic will assist you on the types of sockets around the globe.  Most airports and travel shops certainly sell adapters to meet your needs.   Hopefully we have got you charged up to travel.



7 Things To Consider When Buying a Vacation / Holiday Home



You are considering buying a dedicated vacation home, but might also want to let it out to cover expenses. This guest blog is from Property Venture® an award-winning, overseas, real estate agency, offers some advice on what to consider before doing this.

1.       What is most important to get right?

When buying a vacation or holiday home, which you might want to let out, it is worth considering, who else might find it an attractive place to stay. Who exactly is the type of vacationer or holiday-maker you want to attract?
Is it the standard family of four? If so then ensuring the outside area is practical and can be sectioned off for small children, so the pool doesn’t become a hazard, ought to be a priority. What’s more, there can be strict regulations about this in many countries, which may require extra expenditure before you can let out a property.

2.       What makes a good Vacation or Holiday Let property?
Most people going on holiday want to be in close proximity to amenities, the beach, restaurant, bars, with lots of activities for the kids. So whilst a remote farmhouse cottage might seem dreamy to you, it could be more niche when it comes to successfully letting out your home and you are likely to face dwindling returns.
What’s more, if you buy a run-of-the-mill two-bed apartment on a huge development, where lots of others are renting out their holiday homes, then you are going to need a serious point of difference to make it stand out from the crowd. If you don’t, then you could face regular rental period voids.

3.       What makes a good Vacation or Holiday Let location?
Coastal locations are always good, or near main cities. So in Spain the Costa del Sol is usually a good bet, near main conurbations like Marbella, or on the Costa Blanca, places like Altea, Denia and Javea have long been favourites for British, German and Scandinavian buyers, so it is possible to appeal to a broader group of holiday-letters.

4.       Returns on a Holiday let can differ by country.
In places like Turkey, which has become increasingly popular as a tourist destination, bigger villas tend to be in short supply in certain destinations, so these tend to rent out quicker and at a decent price. Given the cost of living is lower, running costs are reasonable, so enabling decent net returns.

5.       What type of Vacation home?
It isn't always about sun, sea and sand. Take somewhere like Krakow, Poland, which is hugely popular as a city-centre break, given its history, culture, arts and entertainment. Culture-vultures could not choose a better place as a base from which to explore parts of Europe, cost-effectively.
Cities like Barcelona are perennial favourites to a whole host of different nationalities, because of accessibility by air, high-speed rail links and sea. Its architectural heritage, and relaxed lifestyle act as a magnet.

If it is about the seaside, then consider coasts where the temperatures are higher, longer and have lots of amenities like Golf, which can help extend the holiday rental period from March through to October.

6.       How can I reduce the effort I have to spend letting it out?
Vacation or holiday letting tends to require more effort than a standard buy-to-let property, due, in part, to a higher turnover of renters for shorter periods of time. So it is worth bearing in mind, looking after the vacationers you attract will go a long way to reducing effort. Repeat vacationers or holiday makers, is less effort than attracting a first-time holiday-maker.

7.       Allocate time
If you want to maximise holiday rental returns, it is wise to think through the effort you might need to put in, even if you have an agent on the ground to look after the property and check people in and out. Certainly in the early stages to get an established rental pattern.


Property Venture® is an award-winning, independent, UK-based agency for overseas property who helps people buy holiday homes and investment property in Europe. Buyers get the best of both worlds, foreign national buyer advice and local in-market insight.

Christmas in New York




Christmas in New York: 
A magical time for an IVHE vacation
Photo source: flickr, Michael Ostendorp
From the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, through Hannuka, Christmas, and the the New Year’s Eve ball drop, holiday excitement is nonstop in the City That Never Sleeps. This year, breakaway from home for one or more of these holidays and do a merry IVHE home exchange vacation in New York City. Eat, drink and be merry in restaurants from African to Vietnamese; shop in stores transformed into fairylands with out-of-this-world decorations; see spectacles and shows that will live in your heart forever.

Christmas merchandise and decorations will have been up in the stores weeks before the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which is held on the fourth Thursday in November, setting the stage for the unofficial start of the holiday season. This year’s extravaganza will be the 87th.


Photo source: flickr, Caltee Smith
When it comes to a holiday event for the kids, Macy’s Parade is one of the best. Cartoon character balloons, some as high as five stories, float down skyscraper-lined streets and avenues with the guidance of handlers numbering up to 90 for each balloon. There’s Spider Man, Hello Kitty, Spongebob Squarepants, Dora the Explorer and many others sure to keep a child jumping with excitement. And there’s marching bands from around the country, lavish floats decorated in holiday themes, and performers on the street or or floats, many from the casts of current Broadway Musicals. The final float in the parade features Santa Clause himself. And so it begins

The day after thanksgiving is known as Black Friday. In New York and in cities around the country, stores and shops cut their prices drastically to give Christmas gift-buying a hefty start. Throngs of people line up early in the morning to take advantage of this retail bonanza. If you would like to join them, be ready for an exhilirating stampede when the doors open. And prepare yourself for some excellent buys.

The city’s biggest department stores try to outdo each other with holiday window displays. It’s fun to stroll around the city to see the colorful, clever creations of each. You can take a self guided tour lasting about an hour and a half by starting on the northeast end with Bloomingdales, over to Barney’s on Madison Avenue and down Fifth Avenue to Bergdorf Goodman, Saks, Lord & Taylor and finally over to Macy’s on east 34th street at Herald Square. Wear warm clothes and sensible shoes. And enjoy.














On the evening of December 3, thousands of people will crowd the sidewalks around Rockefeller Center (between West 48th and West 51st. Streets and 5th and 6th Avenues) for the lighting of the tallest Christmas tree in the country. Thousands of lights come to life on this stupendous tree and dazzle onlookers as Christmas music and carols fill the plaza and ice-skating rink. The tree will remain lit every night until January 7th, so if you miss the lighting ceremony you can still see this festive tree at a not-so-hectic time.


Photo source: flickr, Ralph Dally
A visit to New York would not be complete without taking in a show or two. There are more musicals, plays, holiday shows, and off Broadway productions than ever before. The Book of Mormon, Alladin, Jersey Boys, Wicked – the list goes on. But there is one show that only runs during the holiday season and is not to be missed – The Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the precision dancing and kicklines of the famous Radio City Rockettes.  From their “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” to their unique interpretation of “The Nutcracker,” performances by the Rockettes are a joy to watch for young and old. The show runs from November 7 thru December 31. Tickets to this and other theatre shows can be ordered at http://www.newyorkcitytheatre.com/

On December 16, the first night of Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights begins in the city with the lighting of the first candle on the world’s largest menorah (at Grand Army Plaza, 5th Ave. and 59th St.). On each of the eight nights of Hanukkah, a candle will be lit and the holiday celebrated with live music, hot latkes, and gifts for the children.

Photo source: gigi_nyc
Wrap up your New York holiday with a party like no other. It takes place in Times Square where an estimated one million people gather on New Year’s Eve to count down to midnight in unison as the famous New Year’s Eve Crystal Ball slowly descends “… 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 … HAPPY NEW YEAR! … and the crowd goes wild, noisemakers rattle and hoot, a blizzard of confetti fills the air , and fireworks explode overhead. Celebrating the beginning of a new year continues into the night with star-studded musical performances.

The International Vacation Home Exchange offers four properties in Manhattan, from the Upper West Side to Greenwich Village. Each property is as unique as its neighborhood.

Property #0133: Greenwich Village --
4-bedroom, 3-floor, 2400 sq. ft. townhouse. Greenwich Village is mostly an upper middle class
residential neighborhood on the west side of Lower Manhattan. New York
University (NYU) is located here. This IVHE townhouse is on Washington Mews, a one-block long cobbled street closed off to traffic. The neighborhood has hundreds of restaurants and coffee shops. Washington Square Park, marked by a large arch, has a fountain, playgrounds, gardens, bocce court and chess tables. Subwaylines are close by. The townhouse is nicely furnished and kitchen is fully-equipped. Appliances include a dishwasher and clothes washer and dryer.

Property #0638: West 57th Street -- 1-bedroom apartment in an amazing Victorian building. This midtown apartment is housed in an 1885 landmark building on the National Register of Historic Places. It was the height of luxury back in its day and remains so today. This majestic apartment has a ceiling height of over 14 ft, hand-carved woodwork, shuttered bay windows, parquet floors and stained glass windows marked Tiffany & Co. Carnegie Hall is across the street. Lincoln Center and the Theater District are short strolls away, as are the 57th Street art galleries, The Museum of Art & Design, The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Central Park.

Property #0908: Upper West Side -- 2-bedroom apartment near Columbia University.  The Upper West Side is a distinguished cultural epicenter, home to the American Museum of Natural History, the New-York Historical Society, the historic Beacon Theatre and Lincoln Center where audiences can enjoy live opera, jazz, ballet and theater performances.
The apartment features exposed brick in the living room and master bedroom, skylights, and high ceilings. You can go out on the roof and watch barges and ships navigate the Hudson River; or step outside, turn right, and in a minute you’re on Broadway with its neighborhood markets, cafes, restaurants and shops.

Property #0969: Chelsea -- 2 bedroom exclusive apartment for direct swap
Hard drivin’ rockers from the 60’s and 70’s used to hang out here in droves; not so much today, but partiers and clubgoers can still find some of New York’s most rocking spots in Chelsea. Since the mid-90s, there’s been a boom in art, culture, architecture and celebrity and a complement of homegrown shops, cozy restaurants, and warm cafes. Your IVHE apartment is in the heart of Chelsea; an easy walk to the Empire State Building, 5th Avenue, Times Square and Penn Station. The building has a doorman and valet service.



In addition you can choose from three fabulous properties in Brooklyn (above) only 8 minutes on the subway from Manhattan!  These stunning listing are: 1022, 1023 and 1024.

For more information on each of these Manhattan exchange homes, click the property # by each one. If you are not familiar with the International Vacation Home Exchange and would like to find out more about its unique exchange program, visit www.ivhe.com and click how it works.



Bank On A Good Exchange Rate



Even something as seemingly complex as managing your currency exchange in relation to an overseas property purchase can be simple and cost effective if you use the right tools for the job. Choosing the right tool will depend on your circumstances, the property you are buying, the convincing process in your chosen country as well as the currency market conditions.  But there are some basic principles which will help.  This month's blog posting is from Halo Financial.

Buying a property, will usually involve a number of payments; either ad hoc or in a stage payment plan. Thankfully, ensuring your budget doesn't get stretched is a relatively simple process. Your initial payments can be booked as 'Spot' transactions. These are agreements to exchange a fixed amount of currency and a set exchange rate within a few days of the contract being struck.

If you want to set the exchange rate for the stage payments, you can do so with what are known as 'Forward' contracts whereby you agree an exchange rate today for a set amount of currency but delay the settlement of the contract until a date up to 2 years in the future. This is a godsend for those who want to cut out all of the currency risk from their plans and it is even more attractive when the exchange rate in question is particularly attractive at the time.

Achieving the best exchange rate for either a Spot or Forward contract is best achieved using another particularly useful tool. The currency market is a 24/7 melee of volatility so catching the best price can be a very hit and miss process. Far better to target an exchange rate which suits your needs and place an ‘Automated’ order into the market at that level which will be triggered if that rate is available anywhere in the world at any time.

Use the right tool and you will save yourself burned fingers and lost opportunities.  Getting the best rate on currency transactions can save you a fortune.  For more information visit Halo Financial.  

Individuals - Foreign Exchange and Currency Rates From Halo Financial

Want To Benefit From More Than House Swap?


SHARE ECONOMY EXPANDS BEYOND HOMES

People who participate in home exchange know the value of enjoying travel experiences from the perspective of a local.  House swapping was an early adopter in the sharing economy, even before people started calling it the sharing economy. Recently, a multitude of new companies have launched services that help people “share” resources. Sharing doesn’t necessarily mean free, but it can translate into significant savings, and it can lead to some really interesting local experiences.

We would like to thank ShareTraveler for this guest posting.  Here’s there list of top sharing economy services for house swappers.

Transportation

You might want to rent a car to explore the French countryside during your home exchange to Lyon. If you don't like the choices with traditional rental car companies, consider peer to peer car rental services like BuzzCar.com Tamyca.de and Drivy.com. They generally have better pricing with more diversity of vehicles and pick up locations compared to traditional car rental services. If you are a car owner this is also a way to earn some extra cash instead of paying for airport parking by leaving your car with FlightCar.com.

If you are just looking for a way to get from one destination to the next consider ridesharing. It's a cheap way to get around that's growing in popularity, especially in Europe. And while you save money, I think one of the best benefits of ridesharing is the local people you meet and the entertainment of conversations during your ride. Drivers join a website such as BlaBlaCar.com or CarPooling.com, where they post upcoming trips they are taking and how many open seats they have, along with a price per seat. Then riders can sign up to join those trips. Drivers and riders get reviewed, and in some cases you can select traveling companions based on features like how talkative they are. This is often cheaper than taking the train or bus, and a pleasant way to meet locals and travel in comfort without all the unnecessary stops inherent to public transportation.

Tours, Activities and Food

Tours and guided activities are fun way to explore while traveling. If you like large tours that hit all the standard tourist spots, you are probably happy with existing tour companies. But for those looking for a different experience, consider using a peer to peer travel experience website. Of the companies in this business today, vayable.com is the largest and most sophisticated. They offer a platform for people to buy and sell travel experiences, activities, and extended trips. Events cover a wide range of prices and experiences. My search of options in Barcelona turned up a $10 two hour roller skating tour, a $240 tour of the city in a convertible, and a $1,995 food and wine week, in addition to culinary classes, night life, photography, art, yoga, and a nudist beach visit, with most prices under $100.

A newcomer to the sharing economy is meal hosting. For travelers, this means an opportunity to eat in the home of a local, sharing a home cooked meal with locals and other travelers. There are a few variations on this theme, but the main option from sites like EatWith.com, TravelingSpoon.com, Cookening.com and MealSharing.com facilitate a cook hosting a group of people for a meal in their home. People attending might be locals in search of a good meal, or travelers looking to enjoy home cooking in the place they are visiting. They're not necessarily cheap, but if you like food tourism, these are great websites to check out.

Boats and Recreational Gear

It’s now possible to find vacation toys through peer to peer rentals. Companies like Boatbound.co and GetMyBoat.com facilitate boat rentals directly from their owners, from luxury yachts to kayaks. And you can find all sorts of adventure gear including ATVs, bikes, RVs, snowmobiles and surfboards on sites like Propaloo.com and Qraft.com.

Pet Sitting

For travelers with pets doing a home exchange, it’s worth looking for a swap partner who also has pets and is willing to swap pet care. This is free and you are already entrusting these folks with your home so it’s not a big stretch to also trust they will care for your pets like their own.

If pet swapping isn’t an option, there are some peer to peer websites to help you find a good sitter. Companies like DogVacay.com, BorrowMyDoggie.com and Holidog.com match dog owners with locals. They include reviews, match you with sitters based on criteria you can specify, and allow payment online through the website. Some even provide pet insurance.

Summary

There are a lot of great new services for travelers in the sharing economy, providing opportunities to enhance your trips, enjoy new experiences, meet locals, and save some money along the way. For a complete list of peer to peer travel services, I've created searchable tables along with reviews and resources at www.sharetraveler.com.

Buying Property In Spain?


10 Top Tips For Buying Property In Spain

Buying your dream vacation property in Spain is exciting however getting over the legal obstacles of the buying process can seem daunting.

The more information you have about the property and the Spanish legal process the better so Worldwide Lawyers have provided a list of ten basic tips to help you buy your dream Spanish property with minimum hassle!

1. Find a good Spanish lawyer

Instructing a reliable Spanish lawyer from the outset can prove to be invaluable and can minimise any worry and hassle later on. Your lawyer should be entirely independent from the estate agent or any developer so that you can be confident that they will work only to protect your interests and not any other party.

You should check that the Spanish lawyer is registered with the relevant bar association, that they have professional indemnity insurance and have experience dealing with international transactions. They also need to speak your language! 

2. Get a property survey

If your walls do not provide the strength required to support the roof or if your swimming pool starts to sink further down into the valley, you may find that the relatively small price of a survey would have been money well spent.

If you wouldn't buy a home in England without a survey, why do it in Spain?!

3. Check the ownership of the property 

You will need to ensure that the names of the registered owners of the property match the information you have about the sellers. (This may sound obvious but you would be surprised!). 

This information is set out on a report known as the Nota Simple. This is a document provided by the Land Registry in Spain and provides information about the property. 

4. Check the description of the property 

The boundaries, the total area of the land and details of the property will need to checked against what you have actually seen. 

Never ever buy a property without actually going to see it first- You may laugh but this does happen!

5. Know the applicable local laws

Check out the how the property is classified (i.e. is it rustico, urbano or urbanizable) as this may affect how regional laws may be applied to the property.

You should also check when buying rural land that is not reserved for agricultural use and that full permission has been obtained for residential use.. 

Considering buying a coastal property? It has been known for properties to be built on public coastal land without the required consents. Check with your lawyer whether such laws could affect the property you wish to purchase.

6. Check building permissions have been complied with

It is not uncommon for resale properties in Spain to have extensions or additions carried out without planning permission. Check with your lawyer that any such alterations are identified, and legalized before you proceed to buy the property.


7. Determine any future building restrictions

If you are buying the property due to its development potential you should make sure you ask your lawyer to check the latest town the town planning department of the local town hall to see if the land you wish to buy is affected by any building restrictions, green zones or public pathways etc.

8. Ensure there are no debts against the property

In Spain debts such as mortgages and unpaid taxes are attached to the property rather that the individual. Your lawyer should ask to see proof of payment of the mortgage, utilities, taxes and any community fees to ensure that any debts have been paid before you purchase the property

9. Find out the extra costs of your property purchase

Purchase Tax is charged on the local council’s valuation of the property and not the purchase price of the property. You should ensure that you know the cadastral value of the property and how much purchase tax will be due. 

You should also find out what the continuing costs associated with the property will be and check that you can realistically afford these.

10. Check out the rental restrictions

Some regions of Spain do not allow properties to be let to tourists as short-term holiday lets. Breaches of these regulations can lead to heavy fines. 

Even if you are not planning to rent out the property yourself, you should check whether any such regulations apply to your property as this could impact on the resale value of your property.

This list is not-exhaustive and there is no substitute for the advice of a property qualified and experienced independent Spanish lawyer who can guide you through the buying process. 

If you need assistance from a lawyer in Spain, contact Worldwide Lawyers who will be able to point you in the right direction.

Home Exchange sounds good


IVHE home exchange

Find the right network for you!

What type of exchange is best for you? 

Is bigger really any better?

How easy is it to find the location, activities and type of accommodation that you enjoy for vacations?

You love to travel and the benefits of home exchange sounds appealing, now comes your first step, finding an exchange network to join. Before instantly signing up to a club or network you should consider what are the most important criteria for you. The questions above will help you in make the right decision. 

If you are only interested in Direct Exchanges then you have many options, just remember that you will have to find a location and home that matches the same time you will want to swap. 
If you want the flexibility of a Non-Simultaneous exchange, there are only a select number of memberships available. It is not an either/or decision as some organisation offer their members both Direct and Non-Simultaneous Exchanges. When doing your research check to ensure you are getting what you want. 

Bigger is not always better. When you start looking on the internet, many organisations claim to have the world’s largest or most listings. One of them has to be the biggest, but why may this not matter to you? What really matters is you find the right exchange for you – this means locations, type of accommodation, type of exchanges and homes with good amenities. We have found that in an effort to look big, there is what we call in the industry, a lot of dead wood. These are home listings that have been around for years but are no longer valid. It will be extremely frustrating trawling through hundreds of property listings, wasting a lot of your time trying to find someone to respond to your inquiries Be careful to select a home exchange organisation that manages their listings, keeping them current and up to date, and can offer you assistance when needed. 

Now is a good time to talk about price. Some exchange networks offer a free listing. Two sayings come to mind you get what you pay for and rarely is anything really free. When home swapping sites offer free listings there will inevitably be properties on the site that are old or have owners that really are committed to communicate. This will waste your time and will reduce your pleasure in the whole home exchange experience. The other thing that often happens with a free listing is that home owners can list their property, but they cannot respond or communicate to inquiries without paying. This will cause delays in communication, another waste of your time. Remember that you are most likely going to save thousands of pounds, euros or dollars on home swapping, so the small cost of joining a reputable home exchange community makes sense; saving you time, avoiding frustration and giving you a much better experience in home exchanging.

Ireland Home Exchange


 Magical countryside, vibrant big city, dramatic coast:
Northern Ireland has it all
and IVHE homes you’ll love.

Photo source: flickr, Etrusia UK
Northern Ireland is the smallest country in the United Kingdom. You can drive from the Mountains of Mourne in the south to the pounding surf on the North Coast in about 2.5 hours. And marvel at natural beauty all the way. Northern Ireland is a good thing in a small package that holds the promise of a big, exciting holiday. 
Photo source: flickr, Iker Merodio 
Belfast, the country’s capital, is situated in County Antrim, one of six counties comprising Northern Ireland. It has survived three decades of paramilitary conflict and is today a peaceful, vibrant, modern city with lots to see and do.

The Titanic was built here when Belfast was an important shipbuilding centre. The Titanic Belfast museum chronicles the great ship from its birth to its tragic end. 
The Odyssey Entertainment Complex is another spot popular with locals and visitors alike. It has a children’s science center, a laser-tag gaming area, 12 cinemas, and an 8,000 seat arena for various events.
Cultural attractions abound in Belfast with a variety of museums, theatres and galleries, and a grand Opera House. The outstanding Botanic Gardens and Park is a living canvas of seasonal color and is an important venue for concerts and festivals.
Festivals and events are big throughout Northern Ireland, not just in Belfast-- including fairs, sporting events, music festivals (classical, popular and traditional Irish) visual and performing arts, and guided walks. 
The scenic Lakelands region hosts the Fermanagh Walking Festival in October. It may be a bit of a huff and puff up 2,182 foot Cuilcagh Mountain, but it offers spectacular views of the lakes and colorful autumn foliage.

Other autumn events include: The William Kennedy Piping Festival in Armagh in mid-November; the Northern Ireland Festival of Racing the first weekend in November at Lisburn’s Down Royal Racecourse; the Mount Stewart Gardens Festival of Lights in Newtownards, the first three weekends in November.
Along the border of the Republic of Ireland, you can also explore one of the largest geoparks and cave networks in Europe – the Marble Arch Caves. Take a guided underground boat trip and see a natural netherworld of rivers, waterfalls, winding pathways and vaulted chambers. The experience is unforgettable. Both the Caves and the Cuilcagh Mountain Park are jointly recognized as a UNESCO Glopbal Geopark.

Photo source: flickr, Yves Consentino
County Antrim is also home to the stunning North Coast, a place of awesome beauty where the scenic and rugged coastline blends into a landscape of pastoral glens and lush forest parks. This region is known for its spectacular waterfalls, brooding castles and mysterious ruins, but its most outstanding attraction is the world famous Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage site.


Giant's Causeway is an extraordinary formation of some 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns rising out of the sea. They were created by volcanic activity over 60 million years ago. It is Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to rock formations, you will find beautiful unspoiled sandy beaches along the coast.

No visit to Northern Ireland would be complete without a tour of the world’s oldest licensed whiskey (Irish whiskey, of course) distillery – Old Busmills’. The distillery hosts some 120,000 visitors annually and has been distilling spirits in the County Antrim area since 1608.
The International Vacation Home Exchange offers three properties in Northern Island:
Ireland home exchange property 0905: The Lakeland District

A modern comfortable three-bedroom house on Lough Erne close to three villages – Pettigo (3 miles), Belleek (8 miles) and Kesh (8 miles). The villages offer opportunities for fishing, water sports, nature walks, pubs, restaurants, and shopping – especially for the famous parian fine china produced at Belleek Pottery.

In addition to a spacious living room, the house has a sun room, fully equipped kitchen, dining room, office, and en-suite bathrooms in each of the three bedrooms. You have stunning views of the lake (Lough Erne) from the garden and living room. The host of this lovely house will make a car available to guests for no extra credits.

Property #Home exchange 0892 – The North Coast

A cozy four-bedroom bungalow in the town of Portrush -- a short drive from the Giant’s Causeway and only an hour away from Belfast.

You can stroll to one of the many long sandy beaches in the area in just 15 minutes. Many restaurants and first-class golf courses are also nearby. The house has a large south-facing private garden – secure for children to enjoy -- with a secluded patio area and gas grill. It also features a living room with a friendly fireplace, a sun room, and well-equipped kitchen.

Home Swap 894 – Belfast 
This charming three bedroom house in a quiet neighborhood is offered as a direct swap to those over 50 only.
The house features a lovely garden, internet access, wifi, TV and DVD player. It is within a 10-minute drive to both the city centre and the countryside. Shops, restaurants and churches are in easy walking distance.
Visit www.ivhe.com to find out more about the International Vacation Home Exchange and the properties they offer around the world.
For additional information on these lovely homes in Northern Ireland, click the property #s above.

Blogsmith: Mike DiPrima

Shoulder season Home Exchange


Take your IVHE holiday during the 
easy-going shoulder season


Photo source: flickr, nubobo 

Traveling during non-peak times is smart. Things are cheaper. Crowds are smaller. Waiters aren’t as surly. The weather may be changing but its usually pleasant And Autumn or Spring presents nature at her colorful best. It’s a more relaxed time of year that invigorates your enthusiasm for life.

The shoulder season is considered to be the few weeks before or after the peak period. Getaways during this time are customarily taken as “mini-vacations” lasting less than a week. Unless you have kids in school, reconsider shoulder seasons for a “major” vacation of 10 days or more.

You’ll already be off to a good start by making your shoulder-season holiday an IVHE one. You save hundreds of dollars on accommodations by doing a direct or credits-based exchange. Cash doesn’t enter the transaction. Don’t forget: your host may be open to negotiation to lower your credits requirement. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

The key to reaping the most benefits from your shoulder-season home exchange vacation is to be as relaxed as the season and try not to cram your itinerary full. Plan a few must-do activities and must-see sights, but leave some time for unexpected surprises such as free concerts in the park, local events that aren’t in the guide book, colorful market places you might stumble upon, or sidewalk artists at work (chances are you’ll find a piece you love). Ask your host or some of the locals if there is anything going on that might be fun to explore. The unplanned often makes for a memorable vacation. 

Make room in your itinerary for the planned and the to-be-discovered, but also, by all means, time for rest and relaxation. Staying in a private IVHE home can be as relaxing as your own, maybe more so if it has amenities you don’t have, a comfortably-different ambiance, and views that make you go “ahhh.”

Dining out is one of the pleasures of a vacation. But it’s nice to know that your IVHE home has a fully-equipped kitchen where you can whip up a taste of home if the craving gets intense, or a place to experiment with recipes of local specialties.
Another great thing about an IVHE home exchange vacation is you have a host or a special contact person who is more than willing to suggest activities, attractions, restaurants, nightspots, and the best places to pursue a special interest. If you are vacationing in an exotic destination where the language and customs are unfamiliar, your host can provide invaluable helpful tips and advice.

You might strongly consider hiring a private local guide to take you around and provide a bit of educational narrative as you go. Your host probably knows where to find a reliable one. A guide is well worth the little extra cost to save you the stress of navigating uncharted waters or joining an expensive, regimented tour with a gaggle of strange strangers.
Many IVHE home exchange hosts make cars available to their guests with the proper licensing and insurance. If you are not intimidated by traffic or you are in a location where traffic congestion is not an issue, this amenity is one to take advantage of. It can save you a bundle of money over renting a car – money you can use on drive-it-yourself excursion trips and souvenir shopping.

If a car is not available, think about how you will get around at your destination before you leave. Your host may include a free shuttle service from the airport. Your IVHE home swap accommodation may be centrally located, allowing you to walk to many places of interest. It may also be convenient to local public transportation. Subways, trains, trams and buses usually offer day or longer passes that will be much cheaper than using a taxi. If you are going to rent a car, find a rental company that offers free pickup from the airport, which will save you the extra cost of an “airport fee.”

Shoulder-season vacations through the International Vacation Home Exchange are easy-going, indeed. In fact, IVHE holidays are easy-going almost anywhere in the world, year ‘round. If you have ever considered swapping your primary residence, a vacation rental, or your second home for vacation accommodations, find out how our system allows you to do that with flexibility and peace of mind. For more information, visit www.ivhe.com.

Blogsmith: Mike DiPrima

Vacation Home Exchange Property Photos


A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

 – guest blogger Natalia Robert

As a vacation property owner, you want your message to stand out from the clutter of voices online, as well as to create an oasis that will bring people back to you repeatedly. Not sure where to start? Here are some helpful tips for creating enticing images for your listings, and for creating a welcoming environment that will keep vacationers coming back to you every year!

1. Less is more. A vacation home needs to be a space that a family or couple can customize for themselves in a short amount of time. Anything that personally applies to you, such as personal photos, correspondence, or extra knick-knacks, will only get in the way of a vacationer's experience.

2. Give your space some personality! While you want to clear out personal clutter, you do want to keep decorative touches that maintain a theme throughout your space. For seaside properties, for example, a nautical theme is popular because it accentuates the location that is so desperately sought after by vacationers. Be sure to keep decor light and neutral so as to avoid making it feel dark and somber. For pops of color and contrast, consider accent pieces like pillows or light fixtures in strong colors.

3. Lighting, lighting, lighting. Nobody wants to walk into a vacation home and feel like they've walked into a cave. Accent lights throughout create a sense of warmth and brightness, and are welcoming to guests. Be sure to have lights directed towards corners or any unique architectural features.

4. Show off the best assets. Decorate around the property's best features. Does your property have spectacular views? Make sure all windows and glass doors are clean and well-functioning! Is the kitchen stocked with appliances? Include accessories in the kitchen to encourage cooking family meals.

5. Put yourself in their shoes. When planning out finishing touches for your guests, walk through what a typical day for them might be like. This will also help when filling in details of your listing, as well as when you guide the photographer as to what photos are needed to properly show off all the wonderful amenities.

6. Have fun with it! Don't forget kids and pets. Vacations often involve kids, and lots of families these days enjoy bringing their pet along for a trip. Consider toys and accessories for children or pets! Extra accessories like baby wipes, a rubber ducky for the tub, or a doggy treat can all make a big impact and help to bring those guests straight back to you next year.

7. Invest in photos. Be sure to have an experienced professional do photos for your listing. Listing photos are what grab the attention of potential renters, so be sure to use the slots in your listing wisely! These images will be used repeatedly to book your property, investing a bit of your budget in quality photos will pay for itself almost immediately.

Do you want photos that present your home in the best way, but are not ready to hire a professional photographer? Get your FREE e-book that will give you 5 tips to step up the quality of your interior architectural photos TODAY. Click here.

Natalia Robert's Bio:
As a San Diego based architectural photography business, serving both local and international clientele, founder and lead photographer Natalia Robert brings her background as an architectural designer forward to produce luxurious images that create a sense of warmth and culture. Natalia has lived and worked in three continents and her work can be seen in venues such as AirBnB, San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyle, TEDxSanDiego events, countless small business websites and family home walls. Today, her furry co-pilot, Daisy, inspires a daily sense of wanderlust while serving as a reminder of how valuable it is to maintain a sense of HOME.
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