A new trend is emerging as more and more homeowners struggle to pay off their mortgages – “homesharing”.
For those looking for a way to offset their mortgage expenses, renting out a spare bedroom in their home, particularly in more affluent neighborhoods where cheap accommodation is hard to find, is quickly becoming fashionable.
According to homesharing coordinator Jackie Grossman from Deerfield, Illinois, “Homesharing began with elderly people struggling to get by on fixed incomes, who suddenly hit on the idea of renting out a spare bedroom as a way of supplementing their income.”
“The advantage they have is they can offer lower rents than anyone else, and in return they get a little extra money and someone to help out around the home. Now however, homesharing is being taken up by baby boomers who have lost their life savings,” she explained.
Grossman has also found a nice little niche for herself, working as a go-between for people who are looking for cheap lodgings and any residents who need some extra pocket money. So far she has helped find accommodation for an Indian woman who works at the Kraft Foods factory in the town, and also a phlebotomist who had recently moved into the area to take up a new job. But though her main task is pairing renters with lodgers, she insists there is a lot more to her job than just doing that.
“I’m more like a professional matchmaker,” she says. “Renters want to live somewhere that is safe, clean and affordable, while the homeowners want to know the person moving in is someone trustworthy.”
This means that Grossman undertakes a huge amount of research and also legal work in order to make sure her clients are a match made in heaven. “So far, things have worked out well,” Grossman said, when asked about how her homeshares have been getting on. “It’s not permanent but for now everyone is doing okay.”
However, Grossman may have some competition on her hands soon enough. As the idea of homesharing catches on, there are even some local programs that have started offering ‘matchmaking’ services for those looking to join in the fun.
One example is the Interfaith Housing Center in the northern suburbs of the town, which has rolled out its free North Suburban Homesharing scheme, a service that matches up tenants looking for a cheap place to stay with cash-seeking homeowners.