Make Your Listing Pop

house listing

The last time I updated our listing on Intervac, I got a request from France the next day with this line:

“Discovering your region would please us a lot and your ad makes us dream … 🙂 so I allow myself to send you this message.”

As much as we love France, this offer wasn’t the perfect match for us—the location was a bit more rural than we were looking for, and the closest city was Lyon, where we’ve already spent a lot of time. But I was happy to see that our listing had intrigued them—I want everyone who looks at our listing to think, “Looks like a great place, I’d like to stay there.”

In our Intervac listing, we’re aiming to make our home as attractive as possible to as many people as possible. Here’s what we include:

Lots of photos. People want to see the house, yard and outdoor space, neighborhood features like playgrounds and walking trails, and all the rooms. It’s not a bad idea to show the kitchen and bedrooms from more than one angle (that’s advice I should take myself).

dining room
Our dining room

Anytime I’m looking through other listings and see just one photo (usually of the outside of the house) I skip right over it. That’s a non-starter. There’s no way we’re exchanging where we can’t even see inside the place, and I’m not going to message someone just to ask for basic photos. (I have asked people to send more photos or to explain something if I have questions, though, but that’s once we’re actually considering an exchange, not right at the start.)

Captions on those photos. Labeling the bathrooms and bedrooms helps make it clear how many there are. I also think it’s a good idea to explain how big the beds are—it’s tough to tell if a bed is double, full, queen, or king in a photo.

A family photo or two (but not 20). It’s nice to have an image of the people you’re hoping to exchange with. But keep it to one photo of each person at most. I’ve clicked through listings that have photos of the family from every vacation they’ve ever been on—that gets to be a little much.

A detailed description. We include an overview of our house’s layout and the things people might be looking for in “amenities”—like a washer and dryer, exercise equipment, high-speed wifi, computer access, air conditioning, a grill, outdoor yard and eating space, and bikes.

Anything else that makes your house attractive can go here—a pool, trampoline, fire pit, swing set, basketball hoop, outdoor toys, etc.

Info on our neighborhood and beyond. We start with describing our neighborhood (“quiet and peaceful”) and expand out to talk about our cute downtown, farmers’ markets, grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, and restaurants. (We hit the highlights here but put a lot more detail about these places in the house guide we leave for our exchange partners.)

The bridge on the walking path in our neighborhood

Lots of families are looking to exchange, so we include a bunch of stuff for kids and teens in our listing—amusement parks, pools, movie theaters, laser tag, trampoline parks, go karts, sports stadiums, and outlet malls.

We also list cities and nature sites that are easy day or overnight trips, with the driving distance included. Make your circle wide—we’ve exchanged with families who visited New York City and Montreal from Boston (4+ hours), and Washington DC from Emmaus, PA (3+ hours).

Don’t assume people know anything about your area—someone looking at your listing might be interested in visiting your area for the first time. Point out what there is to see and do in your area.

Logistics. When do you want to travel? (Keep this range as wide as possible.) Will you exchange your car? Do you need pet care? Do you smoke, and will you exchange with smokers? Do you have a washer and dryer?

Need ideas? If you list your home on Intervac, you’ll see a “Similar Listings” tab on the bottom right of your page. That’s your competition. Take a look at how they position themselves, and borrow ideas that apply to your location. But don’t worry if those homes seem nicer or better located than yours—your home might still be the perfect match for someone out there!

Our kitchen, sans clutter

Tip: On Intervac, when you’re looking for a place to exchange, by default the listings are sorted by “most recently updated.” So, if you make a change to your listing you’ll get bumped to the front of this list.


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