As any homeowner who has made a big move knows, setting up shop in a new city isn’t easy as putting your things in boxes and driving a few hours.
Selling a home often creates a big financial burden since you’re at the mercy of the housing market. Plus, the costs of broker fees, real estate taxes, and title insurance can add up to tens of thousands of dollars.
A new service called Restate hopes to help homeowners by connecting them in home exchanges across the US. The startup is building a nationwide housing community where people list their houses and apartments online and swap homes without selling them.
“Long-term home exchanges could be a better alternative to selling or renting out your home, especially if you want to come back in a few years,” co-founder Petr Novikov tells Business Insider.
Homeowners can join the community for free, and if they want to move into another home listed on the site, they pay a monthly fee of $99. They can stay there for as little as month or as long as a few years (there’s no maximum stay).
Novikov, who has moved over 15 times in the past four years, launched Restate’s beta on September 19. He wouldn’t disclose the number of users on Restate so far, but he says there are enough to start making matches.
Signing up for Restate is similar to listing a place on Airbnb. Homeowners fill out an application, which includes information about their home and where they’d like to move. The New York City-based startup then reviews the paperwork — making sure they actually own their home — and then users are free to browse through the available homes.
The site matches multiple people in a chain, since it’s unlikely that two homeowners would want to swap homes for the exact same time period. For example, if someone wants to move from San Francisco to NYC, and another person wants to move from NYC to LA, the startup will find someone from LA who wants to move to NYC and do a three-way exchange. If someone’s stay is shorter than the other persons’, it will find another person to sublet the home.
The site also automatically recommends homes that are close to the same value, Novikov says. If you move from a Manhattan apartment to a house in Iowa, for example, Restate will pay you a stipend for downgrading to a cheaper home. On the flip side, you can pay to upgrade to a more expensive home.
After the startup confirms the match, members move into their new homes near the beginning of the month. Guests are liable for any damages they make to they places they stay in, Novikov says.
The idea behind Restate makes sense, especially for millennials who feel unsure about diving in and buying a home. As The Atlantic notes, the number of millennials (18 to 34-year-olds) who own a home has dipped to a 30-year low, and for the first time in more than a century, young people are now more likely to live with their parents than with a spouse.
For those who do own or plan to buy a house, joining Restate could mean they don’t need to be tied down in one spot. Or at the really least, buying a home might seem a little less daunting with the knowledge that it could be swapped at any time.