This is an unsettling time for everyone, and homeowners are no exception. The good news is that if you own a home, it is likely to be your most valuable asset -- probably of greater value than any other material possession. You may have used the equity in your home to borrow money. You may have refinanced over the years to reduce your monthly mortgage payment. Or you may have been able to pay off your mortgage by now, meaning the equity you have in your home is all yours.
But today, the place you call home may very well be an empty nest. The kids have grown up and you have excess space you are no longer putting to good use. It's a dilemma for a significant number of Boomers. Do you stay put -- in more house than you really need? Do you put your beloved home on the market and downsize into more modest living quarters? Or is there some other way to take advantage of your most valuable asset?
Here's a smart alternative -- Boomer homeowner Art Barry calls it the "downsize side hustle." He and his wife Sharon considered downsizing, but none of the typical options were attractive to them. So they decided to downsize with a twist. Instead of selling their home and moving into smaller quarters, they stayed in their home and did some clever remodeling, converting an unused bedroom and bathroom into a rental unit with a separate private entrance. The idea turned their most valuable asset into an income-producing property. Art says, "If you have a home and have too much unused space, you can probably come up with a way to turn it into real money. We had positive cash flow with our first month of leasing."
What does it take to create an opportunity to make part of your home into a rental property -- and what's it like to be a "micro-landlord"? In his well-written book, The Downsize Side Hustle, Art covers his experience in detail. He goes through how he and Sharon did it, pros and cons of using contractors and tradespeople, furnishing, utilities, marketing and advertising, tenant screening, landlord and tenant responsibilities, leases and regulatory issues. While Art and Sharon decided they wanted to rent only to longer-term tenants, this same concept could apply to short-term rentals designed for vacationers.
Obviously, not every home can be modified to the extent that it can become a rental property, but maybe Art Barry's experience will inspire you to think creatively. A "downsize side hustle" is an intriguing idea that enables you to stay in your home while generating some income. In this tough economic environment, it may be a smart strategy to consider.
HappilyRewired.com is a Top 75 Baby Boomer Blog.