May 13, 2023 - Real Estate

Buying a vacation home is out. Trading homes is in.

Illustration of two keys, passing through a phone and trading places.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Home-swap networks are growing as owning a vacation property has become less attractive.

Driving the news: San Francisco-based Kindred announced last month it raised $15 million to expand its members-only business into Europe.

  • The platform, which includes listings in D.C., has more than 2,500 homes in more than 50 cities across North America and will debut later this year in major overseas cities such as London and Berlin.

The big picture: Across the country, demand for second homes is down more than 50% from pre-pandemic levels, fueled by high costs, a cooling short-term rental market, and a pullback in remote work, per a new Redfin report.

Be smart: There's still a big appetite to own in at least one popular getaway from the D.C. area. Tight inventory in Delaware's beach communities can't keep up with demand, D.C. real estate agent Cindy Souza tells Axios.

  • Flashback: During COVID, there was a massive rush to buy a second home in places like Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island because the area is "an affordable place to purchase a detached home at under $1 million," says Souza, who specializes in second-home sales.
  • "Because so many people bought during the pandemic, and because they bought at incredibly low interest rates, we have seen very, very low inventory over the course of the last nine months or so."

Between the lines: The way people travel has changed, boosting the "sharing economy" that's now flush with Airbnb-style rental marketplaces.

How it works: Kindred has a "give-to-get" model: You earn credits toward booking a place by hosting a member in your own home.

  • The intrigue: There are no nightly rental fees. For each trip, members cover the cost of cleaning and a service fee capped at $25 per night.
  • Membership is pay-as-you-go, and there's a waitlist to join, as homes are accepted based on supply and demand across locations.

The bottom line: Sharing is caring — and one way to offset pricier vacations during what's expected to be a record-setting travel season.


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