home swapping

There Is Now a Raya for Home-Swapping

Photo: Kentaroo Tryman/Getty Images/Maskot

Kindred is emphatic that it’s not Airbnb. Instead of a place for listing your home (or the investment property you bought to turn into a bachelor-party abyss) as a vacation rental, Kindred advertises itself as a “members-only community for home swapping.” No money is exchanged — except cleaning and service fees and a $300 annual membership. The start-up, which launched earlier this year after raising $7.75 million in a seed-funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz, claims to be agnostic about the homes it features: The properties can be big or small, rented or owned, as long as they are “safe, well-cared-for homes occupied by people who love to travel.” But these well-cared-for homes — a Sausalito retreat with built-ins and views of the bay; an apartment in Mexico City’s La Condesa with a window wall leading out onto a terrace — mostly look like the same kind of expensive: gallery-white walls, Monsteras of various sizes, and a recognizable selection of DTC furniture. It’s like Raya for real-estate swaps.

Raya curates its mix of celebrities, models, and trust-fund babies using criteria like Instagram follower counts and how many other members you know. In its beta phase, Kindred is invite-only and reviews the LinkedIn profiles of people hoping to be wait-listed. Kindred isn’t the first home-swapping platform built on this idea — in 2014, Behomm, a members-only home-sharing site based in Barcelona, launched specifically for “creatives and design lovers” — it’s just targeting a different niche.

Kindred’s sell is that you’re only swapping with your peers — like, for example, your colleagues at Bain. “When we said, ‘Hey, you worked at Bain. Swap homes with this Bain pod,’” co-founder Justine Palefsky explained last week, “the Bain person was like, ‘Oh great, I love people who worked at Bain.’” A Bain-exclusive invite encourages potential members to “join dozens of Bainies” in listing their homes, fulfilling the Bainie philosophy of mutual support: “A Bainie never lets another Bainie fail.” (Right now, it looks like Bainies can primarily swap nicely appointed homes in different parts of San Francisco and New York City.)

In swaps featured on Kindred’s Instagram, members show off their stays in Tribeca floor-throughs and beach houses in Hawaii. The clientele is the kind who might own a rowing machine or fiddle-leaf fig and delight in staying in other homes with rowing machines and fiddle-leaf figs. (One listing features “198 plants and counting,” which seems hard to find elsewhere.) If you don’t have an invite code, you can update your LinkedIn and join the wait list.

There Is Now a Raya for Home-Swapping