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2011 – The year of the house swap

But it can be a risky business, with many home-swappers rushing into their trades without proper planning – meaning they’re ill-prepared should their fellow exchangers damage their property or possessions.

This negates the primary reason for many of the swaps, with more than half of Brits (51 per cent) opting for a home-exchange as a cost-effective holiday alternative.

This may be why the top house-swap hotspots can be found so close to home, with Cornwall (34%) topping the list of exchange destinations. Devon (19%), Scotland (16%) and the Lake District (16%) have also proved to be firm favourites.

Some are even travelling to the sunnier climes of Spain (15 per cent), Italy (15 per cent) and France (12 per cent) to trade homes. Other adventurous house-swappers are venturing even further afield, with one in ten (10 per cent) travelling to America to exchange properties.

And it’s not surprising that people are abandoning the stereotypical package holiday, with house swaps seen as a more flexible (22 per cent) and child friendly alternative (22 per cent).

However, this tempting travel choice can have hidden costs for homeowners if they aren’t cautious. Alarmingly, almost two thirds (60%) of house-swappers fail to tell their insurer they will be taking part in a home exchange, running the risk of invalidating their home insurance policy if anything goes wrong during the house-swap period.

And what may appear to be a cost effective holiday option can prove to be a false economy for many, with nearly a quarter (24%) of house-swappers returning home to a damaged property.

An ‘it’s not my house’ attitude looks set to cause more than £100 million worth of damage for house-swappers this year, as holidaying homeowners fail to treat their temporary residences with the same care and attention as they would their own homes.

Lloyds TSB Insurance is urging homeowners to notify their insurer before embarking on a house-swap to ensure they understand what is covered so they do not incur any unforeseen costs as a result.

The insurer is also advising holidaying homeowners to register with a reputable house swap website to reduce the risk of any unwelcome exchanges.

Paul Spillane, Head of Home Claims at Lloyds TSB Insurance comments:

“House-swapping looks set to be the trend of the year – it’s easy to see why as this type of holiday caters for so many different tastes. To ensure people make the most of their house-swap holidays, we’re urging them to alert their insurers before taking part in an exchange so they don’t jeopardise their cover.”

Top Ten UK House-Swap Hotspots:

1. Cornwall
2. Lake District
3. Devon
4. Scotland
5. Ireland
6. Cotswolds
7. London
8. Dorset
9. New Forest
10. South Wales

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