For many of us in 2020, our homes have never seemed more like protective fortresses. Even in our protection, however, far too many of us are still feeling the financial impact of this unprecedented time. If you’re one of the 1 in 3 Americans who’ve found difficulty covering usual household needs this year, this should come as no surprise.
Thankfully, your home can protect you from more than just the elements – in fact, it’s an incredible asset. Homesharing is a great way to earn passive income while also benefitting from social connection with a compatible housemate.
When I spoke to the Torchlight team on their Eldercare Illuminated podcast, I kept the impacts of the pandemic in mind. Beyond the finances, there’s a lot to gain from homesharing for those of us nearing retirement or caring for a loved one. Let’s take a look at five discussion points from the interview that felt most pressing for today. We were only able to cover a portion of the podcast topics in this blog, but please click here if you’d like to listen to this special episode of Eldercare Illuminated in its entirety.
How much money can I make by renting out a spare room in my home?
We've found, through crunching the numbers in our backend, that our homeowners generate an average of $850 per month. An extra monthly stipend like that can go a long way for any household – even those who are leasing, but have their landlord’s permission to rent out a spare room. Naturally, the amount you can earn will depend on a number of factors, such as the size of the room and the home, how much shared space you’re allotting to a potential roommate and the desirability of the location.
Renting out a spare room can be an especially smart move for those seeking to make home improvements or modifications, but who may not have the funds on hand. The same goes for downsizing, especially in situations where a homeowner finds themselves suddenly bearing the burden of a mortgage. Given our country’s short stock of affordable housing options, creative ways to stay in the home can make a huge difference.
How can I make up for mortgage payments that I missed because I was on unemployment as a result of Covid-19?
This is a topic that is front-of-mind for many Americans who’ve suffered from the increased unemployment and furlough rates this year. Even though many lenders deferred payments to give homeowners a financial lifeline, those payments will eventually need to be made.
The financial benefits of homesharing could provide much-needed relief for those homeowners Statistics show that 80% of boomers own a home, and that asset can be leveraged by renting out unused space. Some lenders are even considering how homesharing can be offered as part of a relief package. Passive income like homesharing is especially lucrative for those also considering part-time or contract work in order to earn without dipping into their nest egg.
Can I offer reduced rent in exchange for having my roommate help with chores?
Trading rent for work and household tasks is actually quite common among our home-sharers. On our platform, when homeowners are listing their space, between 30-40% indicate that they’re open to offering reduced rent in exchange for help around the house – and many renters take them up on it.
This help could include everything from lawn care, to general day-to-day chores like changing light bulbs or air filters, to providing transportation to the store or appointments. Even if the offer isn’t blatantly posted, it can’t hurt to ask your landlord to reduce the rent if you’re open to bartering. Housemates can assist with those activities in a very real way.
What is some advice for living with a roommate when you’re older?
While many adults haven’t considered a roommate since their college years, having one or multiple adult roommates has become a much more common activity. We find that our homeowner users, on average, are in their mid-60s, while the roommates trend a bit younger. In this age cohort, we know we need to overcome some barriers or address some of the reservations they may have. That’s partly because many of us get a little pickier as we age.
Sharing a home with another person is a big decision. We strongly encourage the following to ensure it’s as smooth as possible:
- Have those important discussions about expectations up front and document them in a formal agreement when creating your lease. Put the terms of your agreement in writing so you have a single source of truth if a dispute arises. This gives you the chance to clearly spell out the details so there are no surprises.
- Make sure you’re ready and your house is ready. Talk about it with your family and friends for their viewpoints. What are your expectations of a housemate? Did you make some closet space available? How do you plan to functionally share a kitchen. Be honest about what you’re looking for.
- Be picky. You want to share your space – as well as life experiences, friendship and companionship – with your housemate, so it’s important to find someone who is compatible. At the same time, keep an open mind about your housemate. Multi-generational living situations have been shown to be highly successful, for instance.
- Take advantage of the option to conduct a background screen, regardless of how trustworthy another user might seem. Better safe than sorry!
- After messaging through the Silvernest platform and identifying a potential roommate, make arrangements to meet over Zoom or another video conferencing tool before you agree to homeshare.
Is homesharing a good alternative to assisted living facilities or live-in caregiving?
We’re seeing a lot of older adults and their children start to look into alternatives to assisted living and home care alternatives, particularly since the start of the pandemic. While our platform doesn’t help people find caregiving, some other interesting combinations can be easily facilitated, such as pairing two people together who need care, which allows for possible streamlined shared-care in one home. Additionally, those who are already family caregivers can benefit from sharing their own homes and generating extra income, which is typically needed because they’re spending their resources on the person for whom they’re caring.
We’ve also had some interesting conversations with larger caregiver providers who share with us that they’re facing limitations in labor. One way homesharing can support the industry is encouraging caregivers to consider homesharing situations near where they’re working on a daily basis. It makes it more affordable and easier to retain that labor, so it’s a win-win.
Learn more about homesharing and sign up at www.silvernest.com.