People opt to swap homes rather than buy, sell


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Ralph Reviello loves his Guerneville home nestled in the redwoods. It epitomizes the laid-back lifestyle he is enjoying in retirement. But he is now looking for something warmer, maybe Palm Springs, or back East.

"I want to get to like from probably Charleston area or Florida," Reviello said.

But because of the downturn in the economy, he has struggled to sell his home.

"Because the market is so bad, nothing is really selling anywhere," Reviello said.

He has found an option on the Web that hopes works for him.

"The ideal thing would be to find someone in a place I want to go to and then you just swap," Reviello said.

He is not looking to just swap his home for a weekend – he is looking to trade it for good.

Reviello says he has had some takers, but not quite a match yet.

"Actually, I had about six definite people that would have swapped, five of them were houses and they weren't on the ocean, I want to be on the water," Reviello said.

There are a number of sites to advertise on.

"Basically they go on and they put their information -- of this is the house I have and this is what I would be willing to buy if I could sell my home," Brian Stroka of said. is the nation's most dominant house swapping Web site.

"We are actually just an advertising service for these types of trades, it's the only place where you can actually go and find what somebody has, and what they're wanting to buy," Stroka said.

A person posts their house or browses the site for free. For $29.95, their home will remain in the database until it is sold and they have found their new home. People need to hire an attorney or real estate agent to finalize the deal, but that means no high commissions to brokers.

People may still need to get a mortgage.

If someone has a $500,000 house in the Bay Area, and the house they want elsewhere is only $200,000, the buyer of the $500,000 house will have to get a loan for the extra $300,000 to make up the difference.

For homes of equal value, it may be as easy as getting the bank to transfer the person's loan to the new property. has been a hit with troubled home owners; there are 100,000 unique users to the site every month.

"It's just simply a typical real estate transaction, except for the person that you are selling your home to, you happen to be buying theirs," Stroka said.

Reviello is one of them, and he is waiting patiently for what is next. does not keep track of just how many homes have been sold through the site, but an independent research firm estimates that it is in the thousands.

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Written and produced by Ken Miguel

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