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A new way to share: Seniors rent spare rooms to younger people

by | Aug 22, 2016 | Blog, Denver Real Estate Market, Home & Lifestyle

58961895 - portrait of an elderly lady having coffee with her granddaughter and showing an old photograph to her

Are you an empty nester with a spare room or two? Why not make some extra cash by renting out the space?

In Denver’s increasingly tight rental market, some are proposing this idea as a win-win situation for homeowners and home seekers alike. “It seems like a simple solution really that more people should be considering,” Michelle Hutchison told the Denver Post. “Especially with the older generation who are often stuck with these big homes.”

Hutchinson is a money expert at Finder.com. The personal finance website estimates that there are 790,074 spare bedrooms available to rent in Colorado. “Assuming a rent of $100 a week,” notes the Post article, “those spare rooms have the potential to generate $4.1 billion a year in rental income.”

The Post reports that spare rooms can reasonably rent for about a third of the cost of a one-bedroom apartment. And demand is growing by the minute. Colorado’s home and apartment supply is about 15,000 less than it needs to be to accommodate population growth.

Older homeowners may find the idea attractive, notes the Post, because many are “asset rich and cash poor,” and with the rising home prices in the Denver market, downsizing options are limited. They might also appreciate the help younger tenants can provide. “If a senior is struggling to shovel the walk or lacks a car, you can create a service exchange,” Alison Joucovsky, executive director of Sunshine Home Share Colorado, told the Post.

On the other side of the equation, young people are struggling to find affordable living arrangements. The Community College of Denver notes that it now has 450 students who self-identify as homeless, according to the Post. And nationally, just under a third of 18 to 34 year olds live with parents or relatives, according to the Pew Research Center.

Given the data, it’s no surprise that, according to the article, surveys show that “the percentage of adults in metro Denver who are sharing homes with unrelated people…has shot up sharply.”

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