Make sure you are not exchanging with a bachelor. Or, if you are exchanging with a bachelor, make sure he's not a professional photographer! In our experience, Bachelors tend to have a different idea as to what is needed in a kitchen to cook gourmet meals. Bachelors tend to not be so worried about the little details...like cobwebs in the pantry, spiders in the shower, propane in the tank for hot water, comfortable furniture and other little things like that. I could be completely wrong and this could have nothing to do with the fact that our exchanger was a bachelor (he does have a lovely girlfriend, who came on the exchange with him...I'm just not sure she had added "a woman's touch" to his house yet). But, I have to find some lesson to be learned, and this is what I've gleaned. In our next exchange, I will be looking for more feminine touches in the house photos!
Since our exchange, I have reviewed the pictures that were posted of our exchange house, trying to determine whether I should have seen some of the more rustic parts of the house. This is where the "don't exchange with a professional photographer" rule comes in. The pictures are beautiful. There was no real hint of what the house really had in store for us. Now, when I look at pictures for our next exchange...I know what to look for.
First picture posted on Exchange site...we assumed this was the front of the house...shot from the road.