But, is it really that easy?
Or will that cramped, one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles pale in comparison to the sweeping chateau in Bordeaux? Are home swaps really the ideal way to experience a new destination?
The answer is no, says Jerry Beck. As a partner in 3RD Home, a private club that enables second-home owners to share luxury properties around the world, Jerry believes straight home swaps pose an element of risk for participants and always leave one party feeling disillusioned.
“With a home swap, someone always feels ripped off,” Jerry explains. “Because one person usually has the better property, someone is always getting the better deal.”
Enter 3RD Home. The website, which launched at 3rdhome.com in January, enables members to exchange time at luxury second-homes, without the irritations often associated with leasing or timeshares.
Members must own a million-dollar property, with high-end furnishings and amenities, which is made available to other members for a number of weeks throughout the year. Every week that is made available earns the owner keys, the website’s currency, which they can then use to buy time at other properties.
3RD Home’s CEO and founder, Wade Shealy, started the business after identifying a gap in the luxury vacation home market.
“There is 50 million second-home owners around the world,” explains Wade, who spent more than 25 years working in South Carolina’s resort industry.
“We want to help second-home owners get more value out of their property.”
Wade says one of the main objections many homeowners had to buying a second home was that they then had to always vacation in that specific location.
However, 3RD Home allows members to visit myriad destinations throughout the world, while still benefiting from the investment of a second home.
Jerry became involved in 3RD Home after realising that his vacation home in Whistler, Canada, was sitting vacant for much of the year. As a result, he felt compelled to vacation in Whistler, despite wanting to explore other parts of the world, as he had invested considerable money building the home.
“I wanted to make the most of my investment,” Jerry says.
“Most people with second homes have probably spent a few million on the house, so we want to make sure they are getting the most from that investment. 3rd Home is super cheap because you are using your investment, and since you only have luxury home, you don’t have that experience of ‘my house is better than your house’ of home swaps.”
Luxury is truly the word to describe the properties available on 3RD Home. The website features breathtaking homes from almost every continent. Members can choose from haciendas in Mexico, waterfront homes in Australia, chalets in France, a farmhouse in South Africa, a condo in Brazil, villas in New York, and even restored 16th century estates in the Italian countryside.
For something truly spectacular, guests can stay in the ski home of former United States President Gerald R. Ford, in Colorado. There is something to suit every taste and every vacation dream.
“The house can’t be mediocre, but in a great location. It has to be a million-dollar home located in a place where people will want to go on vacation,” Jerry says. “We’re very picky.”
The high-end nature of the properties and the fact that they are someone’s vacation home means members treat the exchange with the utmost respect.
“Some of the hosts have been really wonderful,” Jerry says.
“We’ve had guests turn up to find bottles of champagne on ice and a list of recommendations about which restaurants to visit in the area. Because these are multi-million dollar homes, guests have to be respectful. We’ve found that guests treat the place better than they would treat a hotel room.”
The flexibility of 3RD Home has also been welcomed by members, who can request certain weeks at a property, or even request a specific destination and if a home is not available in that area, 3RD Home’s customer service will find one.
In Cayman, 3RD Home has partnered exclusively with Sotheby’s International Realty Cayman Islands to encourage local and international home owners with a high-end vacation property to join 3RD Home. The response, so far, has been overwhelming, according to owner and broker Sheena Conolly.
“Cayman is the ideal market for 3RD Home as there are so many second and third homes here that often sit vacant for most of the year,” Sheena explains.
“It’s a great way to use your second home to travel the world and stay in super luxurious places. 3RD Home is a big value added bonus for homeowners.”
The partnership between 3RD Home and Sotheby’s International Realty Cayman Islands is the perfect marriage, Sheena says, as both are high-end companies committed to providing a luxurious experience for their clientele. She believes 3RD Home’s exceptional services, unparalleled flexibility, and calibre of properties will have a positive impact on the islands’ real estate market.
“There is so much freedom with 3RD Home. It appeals to a very discerning buyer,” says Sheena.
“The properties available are phenomenal. 3RD Home is fantastic for Cayman. It should appeal to everyone who has a holiday home.”