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Sell me yours, I’ll sell you mine

House-swapping sites link consumers in different markets

Michelle Wulfe and her husband had plans to move from their home in Big Bear City in Southern California to retire in Arizona. They bought a home in Kingman, Ariz., and the real estate market there tanked soon after. They found that they liked it better back in Big Bear, and so they moved back home and kept their Kingman property on the market. "The minute we moved the market fell ... so we moved right back into our old house. Now we have two homes." That was about a year ago. The Kingman home is still for sale. Wulfe said she decided to try a different approach to marketing and she advertised the home on Pad4Pad.com, a Web site that is intended to facilitate house swaps. Pad4Pad is one of several sites that allow sellers to advertise where they are hoping to move next, so that they can link up with buyers using the site. If the buyers and sellers agree to "swap" homes by purchasing each other's property, the transactions are structured much the same as ...