Tired of your crib? In this economy, don't sell - swap.
"House swap" agencies that help frustrated residents trade up their digs by faciliating switches with other owners are becoming more and more popular as the housing market continues to bottom out, Time magazine reported.
The online agencies play matchmaker for antsy sellers looking to dump their property - pairing them with others who are also looking to move. The sites aim to land owners in their ideal homes - one family's burden is another's real-estate dream, and vice versa.
Sites like www.goswap.org and www.onlinehousetrading.com have successfully matched tens of thousands of users and are growing every day as homeowners become more and more leery of entering the housing fray. The ease of the sites keeps owners from paying two mortgages at once as they search for a new place while holding onto their old home.
Some trades are within the same town, while others can be across the country.
Christopher and Melissa Petrocco swapped lots with Alpharetta, Ga. neighbor Lyca Shan when they began to feel claustrophobic in the three-bedroom townhouse they shared with their two boys. Shan's 3,300 square foot home was too much to maintain after she was laid off from her job, so she listed her too-big digs on www.onlinehousetrading.com. Three weeks later, Shan and the Petroccos made contact, and the switch was made.
"We looked at each other's houses, and it worked out," Melissa Petrocco told Time.
Former Canaan, N.H. resident and caregiver Alice McLaughlin, who will soon sign off on a swap of her two-story log cabin, said the site was a quick way to find a new place when she decided to move to Hawaii to care for seniors.
"So far, this site has seemed like an easy way to get a win-win situation," she said.
Trades on the sites are conducted like normal real estate transactions after sellers meet - both parties have to meet loan approval and pay the appropriate mortgages.
For desperate buyers and sellers, the new house swap trend could be the only way to get out of Dodge.
"The reason they've turned to us at all is they've exhausted all other options," said Daniel Westbrook, CEO of www.onlinehousetrading.com.