Homesharing--or, more colloquially, getting a roommate--is nothing new but senior homesharing is. For decades, people have shared living spaces with others. Traditionally, college students and people under the age of 25 practice homesharing. These days many individuals who are already at or near retirement age are interested in finding creative ways to age, including homesharing a residence with others.
Enter SilverNest. SilverNest is the brainchild of Wendi Burkhardt and Chuck and Debra McKenney. Burkhardt's experience in building out tech companies, combined with the McKenney's real estate expertise and altruistic work, resulted in SilverNest. Targeted towards people who may not be comfortable using unregulated services such as Craigslist, SilverNest allows would-be roommates to connect based on a number of risk-reducing factors.
SilverNest takes away a lot of the uncertainties of finding a housemate. It does this by utilizing a matching algorithm. This formula takes into account a number of factors, including age, living habits, and gender, among others.
Once the program identifies potential matches, the parties are alerted and can begin exchanging messages. However, the identity of the homeowner is kept a secret until the homeowner feels comfortable revealing that information.
According to Burkhardt, the system does the heavy lifting of vetting roommates. SilverNest provides identity verification and full background checks done by an accredited third party. These precautions help eliminate the hesitancy factor. By using SilverNest, homeowners and renters alike have a safety net of diligent vetting.
Of course, concedes Burkhardt, SilverNest cannot guarantee that there will be no issues once a roommate moves in. Their due diligence reduces risk considerably, though.
Aside from the safety issue, SilverNest brings a number of useful tools to the table. For one thing, the service provides pre-prepared lease templates formatted according to the state in which the residence is located. This spares homeowners having to find a lease elsewhere--or having to pay an attorney to draft one.
Further, SilverNest offers homeowners the ability to collect rent online. This means that homeowners do not have to wait until their roommate pays and then go to the bank. Rather, SilverNest collects the rent money and deposits it straight into the homeowner's bank account.
For those nearing or at retirement age, there are many reasons to consider utilizing SilverNest to find a great roommate. First and foremost is the financial consideration. Many retirees who bought a house when their children lived at home have more house than they need. Paying the maintenance, mortgage, taxes, and utility bills for an entire home when only one or two people live there can be burdensome. For those retirees who do not want to sell their family home and downsize, roommates are a viable choice to offset expenses. Renting out part of one's house is a good income stream for retirees.
Further, SilverNest provides a venue for assisting those retirees who simply want some company. Living alone in a large house can be lonely. Having a roommate with similar interests and living habits can be an enjoyable experience. Many roommates become best friends! Since isolation contributes to ill health and mortality, sharing one's home and life can be of real benefit to seniors.
SilverNest provides a way, Burkhardt says, to "Have fun, live longer, and make some money." It's exciting. Indeed, Burkhardt says, "Aging is exciting," and this is especially true, she says, for the Baby Boomers, a generation that is "digitally savvy" and also ready to "embrace a shared economy." Burkhardt gives the examples of Uber, Instagram, and Air BnB as signs that people are open and excited about trying innovative, shared solutions to needs. Burkhardt believes that this generation, the Baby Boomers, who were always willing to experiment with the way society runs, "will change the way we age" and for the better.
The need and desire for homesharing are clearly there. SilverNest serves as a bridge to turn the desire into a reality. The service has already delivered over 3,000 matches without advertising at all.
Those who are 55+ and considering a roommate might want to give SilverNest a try. The service is very user-friendly. Burkhardt notes that renters outnumber homeowners about seven to one, so there is a good chance that homeowners will find someone suitable.
Perhaps nothing says it's better than SilverNest's simple but engaging slogan, posted on the website:
Homeowners stay in the home they love.
Housemates find a lovely new home.
It doesn't get much better than that!
Interview with Wendi Burkhardt, September 21, 2016.
SilverNest. Available at www.silvernest.com. Last accessed October 10, 2016.