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Love Home Swap buys rival HomeForExchange in expansion bid

A British start-up that lets you swap homes with someone has acquired competitor HomeForExchange at a time when consumers are flocking to so-called sharing economy services such as Airbnb.

Love Home Swap's acquisition of HomeForExchange will see it expand the number of properties offered through its website to over 100,000 from just 250 when it was founded in 2011.

The company, which has so far raised £12.5 million ($19 million) , facilitates home swapping, where you might travel to somebody's house and stay while they come to yours.

Love Home Swap

Debbie Wosskow, founder and CEO of the start-up said that HomeForExchange will remain and independent brand with the aim of making each site focused around different users and price points.

"Love Home Swap is for a high-end audience and HomeForExchange is a different kind of audience at different price points," Wosskow told CNBC in a phone interview.

"We want to be a destination for anyone who wants to home swap and people want to do different things at different times and our portfolio seems he right way to serve them."

The latest acquisition comes after Love Home Swap bought 1stHomeExchange last year. Wosskow said that the company's expansion plans are focused around buyouts.

"As we continue to expand the business globally and during 2016 I am looking at further acquisitions and the strategy of the group is to operate a series of different brands," the founder said.

Love Home Swap has got the backing of Wyndham Hotels, whose brands include Ramada and Travelodge. It's a subscription service that starts at $20 per month and goes up to $34 per month depending on the membership. It also makes money by allowing users to buy so-called "Swap Points" which they can then give to a host in order to stay at their accommodation without doing a swap.

The alternative accommodation space is heating up. Airbnb recently confirmed a $1.5 billion funding round, while One Fine Stay raised $40 million earlier this year. Love Home Swap is not a direct competitor to Airbnb as it focuses on swapping homes, but its "Swap Points" service does let people rent places without the need of exchanging homes.