Housing Swap

A friend of the blog emailed this story about the tiny house movement. Despite the name, people aren't necessarily downsizing from suburban McMansions to 89 square foot shacks. A lot of these tiny houses are getting plopped in yards for use as extra space.

There's still something driving the idea that people really want to downsize. A few weeks ago I was talking to an empty-nester who explained that his home in outside-the-beltway DC is just too much these, now that his adult children are gone and not coming back. Ideally, he and his wife love a condo or apartment in walkable Arlington; but selling their home is prohibitively costly and complicated.

He then told me about an interesting idea: a housing swap.

(from camknows on Flickr)

It goes something like this: a young couple owns a condo or townhouse in the city, but they have a kid and maybe another baby on the way. An empty-nester couple owns a home in suburbia, but it's a lot to maintain and it's far from things. If these two couples could find each other, they could swap homes, continue paying the mortgage on the property they own, and live essentially rent-free in the other.

Admittedly, it sounds good in theory. I'm not sure how easy it would be to find a situation in which the swap would be mutually beneficial.


    Isn't this why we invented money as a means of exchange? So you wouldn't have to find someone who wanted your house and had a house you wanted?

    Seems like finding these mutual trades would be difficult at best.


    Honestly, this sounds like a potential financial/legal nightmare. I would hope that if you really find yourself in this kind of lucky situation, that there's some way to take advantange of it financially (i.e. smaller loan amounts for somebody) while still having everyone end up living in the house they're paying the mortgage on.

    Do you still get the mortgage interest deduction if you're not living in the house?


    but selling their home is prohibitively costly and complicated.

    Now that I think more about it, I'm kind of astounded by this. What does he want to do, leave it to his kids and have them go through what is apparently an unbearably painful process? Selling the home is one of the things (like say, replacing the furnace, or replacing the roof, or buying homeowners insurance) that a homeowner must be prepared to do.

    From my perspective, in a buyer's market, the toughest part of selling a home is finding a buyer, and you're positing that that problem has already been solved!