Permanent House Swopping

In the past few years, holiday house swopping has been taking the world by storm. The basic principle of it; “I’ll stay in your house, you’ll stay in mine,” has made holidays accessible to a lot more people. But, what about permanently swopping houses?

This phenomenon has grown from strength to strength overseas since the financial crisis of 2008. However, “I’ll buy yours, you’ll buy mine,” has not taken off so quickly in South Africa. Most estate agents don’t have “house swopping” listings. Although some offers can be found on Gumtree and OLX.

If you are interested in house trading, what exactly does it entail?

There are no specific laws regulating house trading as of yet. This does not mean that people can just swop houses left, right and centre.

Instead, permanent house swopping must be treated as two separate, simultaneous sales of properties.

It must be treated as a sale, with a deed of sale, because in order for you to legally own the house, transfer of the property into your name must be registered at the Deeds Office. Bear in mind that all additional hidden transfer costs and duties will still be payable by each party for their new property.

The deed of sale and the transfer of the property are handled by a Conveyancer. (A Conveyancer is an Attorney who specialises in property law and is admitted in the High Court as a Conveyancer)

The only difference from a normal sale of a house comes in with the payment of the purchase price. Instead of cash exchanging hands, the monetary value of the one house is set-off against the monetary value of the other house. Cash will only exchange hands if the one house is valued higher than the other house. Then the difference in value must be paid by the receiver of the higher valued house. 

Important things to remember:

  • Inspect the house you have chosen;
    • Damp, termites, etc., do not make good housemates;
  • Make sure your house is valued correct to the market value;
  • Make sure that the value of the house you have chosen is valued correct to the market value;
  • Get a Conveyancer to draft the deed of sale or check any contract you are given before you sign it;
  • You do not take over the bond or loan the other house owner has over the property;
  • Double check that the other person is in fact the owner of the house.

You may also want to read Start-ups – Tips for Success.


Glink, I (2009, 15 July). Can’t sell your Home? Consider a House Swop Retrieved 6 February, 2016, from

Law Society of South Africa (Unknown). Buying or Selling a House: What you need to know Retrieved 6 February, 2016, from

Visser, C (Ed.)(2008). South African Mercantile and Company Law. Cape Town: Juta and Company Ltd. p103