It's summertime, when the livin' should be easy and fun.
It's also a time when many people seek a way to enjoy an affordable vacation. But too often economic realities -- those hopes.
Before giving up that dream of a super vacation, consider this possibility: The home you now own and live in could hold the key to a memorable sojourn in a new and exciting locale. And it won't even involve an equity loan.
Instead of paying a high daily or weekly fee at a resort or hotel, simply trade a short-term residence in your home for a similar term of residence in a home in your vacation area. The "your home for mine" concept is simple, but is working with increasing frequency.
For example, Steve and Leslie Bennett of California traded one month of residency in their home for the same time period in a comfortable home in a small town in France. The couples also traded their automobiles during the one-month period.
"It worked out very well," Leslie Bennett said. "The French couple even gave us the use of their boat and we cruised to many fascinating fishing towns in the area and had some great experiences."
The trading of homes sparked a long-term friendship with the French couple.
Joel and Caren Adelman have enjoyed positive experiences by trading homes. Their trades have involved homes in England and France. In both cases, they traded cars as well as homes.
"We found the foreign couples to be very respectful of our property, and the overall experience was very positive," Joel Adelman said.
Both of these couples arranged their home trades through Intervac, an international home exchange information service based in San Francisco.
The firm does not make arrangements for individual trades, but provides three directories per year, listing information about houses that are available for trade. The directories are sent to Intervac members, who join for an annual fee of $45.
Other firms provide more personalized service for each homeowner wanting to trade homes, but these services cost up to $500.
"Even though there's no methodical screening of applicants, we've never had a problem with people using our home," Mr. Adelman said. "We've had certain valuables left in our home, and there were valuables in homes where we stayed. Everyone respected each other's property."
Another method of arranging a quality but low-cost vacation is exchanging a time-share ownership interest in a vacation residence.
Recently, Charles and Mary Jo Maass, who own three one-week time intervals at Harbortown Point Marina Resort in Ventura, Calif., wanted to arrange two-week vacation accommodations for themselves and two other couples, in three separate but close units at a high-quality resort in Europe. And they wanted the arrangement to include an exchange of the time-share units they own at Harbortown Point.
Mr. Maass contacted an exchange representative at Interval International, a major vacation exchange network based in Miami. He asked the representative to check all availabilities and see what could be arranged for the three couples.
The Interval representative informed him that three two-week accommodation periods could be arranged at a time-share resort in southern Portugal.
It was the only resort availability in Europe that met the couple's special needs. Arrangements were quickly completed.
Q: Why are local boards of Realtors changing their names to "association of Realtors"?
A: An association more accurately reflects what a local organization of Realtors is all about, said one Realtor executive.
The name change is a general trend, started by the National Association of Realtors. A "board" is usually a governing body exercising membership sanctions and testing-licensing functions. An association is a group of professionals who come together to learn and enhance their specialized field within a jurisdictional area.
Q: Are most of the nation's home sales handled by large or small brokerage firms?
A: The 250 largest residential brokerage firms handled more than 1 million home-sale transactions during the past year, according to a report in Real Trends, a real estate trade newsletter.
Those big-firm transactions represent nearly 16 percent of all home sales.