Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 20th 2014 Contents JULY 20 • 2014 www.guardian.co.tt SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN
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2. Embrace the "shared economy."
Franks says a growing trend is people renting rooms like a hotel or bed
and breakfast. "Retirees can rent out rooms of their house for as much
as $100 a night," Franks says. "One room rented out two nights per week
is about $10,400 a year in extra income. You can rent out spare closets.
"You can rent out rooms in your house through HomeAway.com, Vacation
Rentals By Owner.com or Airbnb," Franks says. "It s almost like a mini
bed-and-breakfast style way to make extra money. It s perfect for making
extra retirement money. Usually the kids are gone, so most people close
to retirement have spare rooms."
If you don t want to rent rooms, consider renting kitchen appliances
or even tools, she says. "You could rent out your camera for $40 a day.
The possibilities are endless. One person was able to rent his car out to
folks who needed to run errands. He was making about $1,000 extra per
month. That s an extra $12,000 per year."
Another option: Take care of pets when their owners are on vacation.
DogVacay co-founder and CEO Aaron Hirschhorn says he got the idea
for his company when he and his wife left their dogs at a kennel.
"We had left our dogs in a kennel for a 10-day trip and the cost was
$1,400, and one of the dogs was hiding under my desk for two days," he
The couple started keeping dogs in their home, first for friends and
later for others. DogVacay was born. "It turned out to be a way better
experience," he says. "The dogs are in a loving home; they get to be out
of a cage. Also, it s more affordable than a kennel, because there is no
In a little over two years, the company has grown to 15,000 hosts across
the country, a good portion of them retirees, Hirschhorn says. The hosts
set their own rates, and DogVacay gets 15 per cent for infrastructure
support, including customer service.
Hosts can keep up to three dogs at a time, and the average is $30 per
night for a dog. "You can be as active as you want," he says. "You can
do it just weekends or full time. A few retirees who do it full time earn
$5,000 or $6,000 a month. One who watches dogs every weekend may
earn $1,000 a month."
3. Sell or rent your home and move into a luxury home.
Showhomes in Nashville offers an unique opportunity for Baby Boomers
and empty nesters. The company "stages" homes for sale. The theory is
that homes look better and are easier to sell if someone is actually living
in them. "People have trouble visualising a home when it s vacant," says
Matt Kelton, chief operating officer.
"We ll match that vacant home with someone with nice furniture, like
an empty nester. They can live in a home with their own furniture. They
pay 30 per cent to 50 per cent less (than the market rate). They can live
in a golf course gated community. But they have to leave when it s a
showing, and they have to keep it in good condition."
Sharon and Brent Duncan, ages 51 and 56, are empty nesters living in
a $1.6 million home on a golf course in Arden, a suburb of Asheville, N.C.
She s been there for almost six weeks so far. Duncan, who now works for
the Showhomes agent in Asheville, is living in her third property. They
sold their 5,500-square-foot home in Franklin, Tenn., after their kids left.
"It was either go to a 1,600-square-foot loft or go into a show home
where I could use all my furniture and save money on our monthly rental,"
Sharon Duncan says. "We went with Showhomes."
"You get to live large for less, actually," she says. "You get to live in
these beautiful properties. With this particular community, HOA covers
lawn care and maintenance. You are living in these gated communities,
a pretty maintenance-free situation. If the water heater goes out, that is
the homeowner s cost. You get to have a more relaxed and enjoyable
lifestyle while you are saving money."
"It becomes a win-win for everyone," says Kelton. "Homes sell faster.
The home manager is able to live at a highly reduced rate. They stay on
average five months. They don t move until the house moves. I ve had
people in for 30 days and some people for 18 months.
"It s not for everyone," he says. "But if they are flexible they can live
a lifestyle, a lot of times, they couldn t afford."
---By USA Today's Rodney Brooks
From Page 21
suggest buyers step out of their comfort zone and
drive by prospective houses at night. "Hear what it s
like when not everyone is at work ... hear the roosters
and the crows" that may live in neighbours yards,
Kirsten Becker said.
6. They skip the home inspection.
About 10 per cent of recently bought homes weren t
inspected, according to Bill Loden, president of the
American Society of Home Inspectors. These buyers
were trying to cut costs, forgoing the fee that inspectors
charge to perform a two- to four-hour search to flag
material defects of the property, but those defects
can result in thousands of dollars of damage down
"It takes a trained eye to be able to see the problems
that can exist in a home," Loden said. "The inspection
can also give the first-time buyer a bit of a schooling
on the house and how to maintain it."
While buyers should tag along with the inspector
and ask questions about cracks, water stains and odd
smells, Loden cautioned that there are always "latent
defects that inspectors cannot see."
Buyers should inspect basements, attics and
mechanical rooms to see how well maintained they
are and ask about conditions specific to certain areas---
radon in the Midwest, sewers in California and active
clay soils in Dallas, which can cause problems for
When looking to buy a home in an area with such
soil issues, home inspectors urge buyers to call on
specialists who perform foundation inspections. This
can head off costly repairs down the road.
"In a case where the home inspector recommends
a foundation inspection, 85 per cent of the homes
are likely to need foundation stabilisation," said Adam
Green, president and principal engineer at Crosstown
"The foundation of the home is the most important
structural component, bearing the weight of the
entire structure. If it fails or is unstable, it will cause
all kinds of damage. Costs to fix foundation problems
can be high and ongoing if the cause isn t identified
Also, don t be afraid to "follow your nose," Kirsten
Becker said. Mold, gas leaks and long-term dry rot
can often be detected by their smell, she said.
7. They forget to check the (wrong)
emotions at the door.
In a competitive market where multiple offers may
essentially be the same, "the sellers will choose almost
every time to sell their home to someone who [appears
to] really love it," said Amy Mizner, principal of real
estate firm Benoit Mizner Simon & Co. "Most buyers
don t realise they are being interviewed by the listing
broker, and if they complain the whole time or get
exasperated about what are ultimately small-ticket
items, they will make a bad first impression."
While it s important to note cracks and inquire
about things like potential rodent problems in wooded
areas, Mizner said buyers should not become fixated
on these things while seeing the home. Save those
questions for a broker, who should help clients do
due diligence after a home tour.
Becker said lots of factors---the house s façade isn t
to your taste, for example---turn out to be relatively
cheap, easy fixes. She added, "If you re being over-
whelmed by red flags, often that s when you can
renegotiate your deal or take advantage of an amazing
location with a house that may have a functional
issue that may turn out to be a very easy fix."
8. They expect their home's value to
appreciate over time.
Many first-time homebuyers invest their life savings
into a home, hoping to turn a healthy profit when
they sell five, six or seven years down the road. "I
think a lot of people got burned doing that in the
2000s," Carden said. "And while to a certain degree
it s really nice to get home equity for money you d
be paying for rent, it s a large asset that s not very
Buy a house to live in, Carden said, and be prepared
for lots of unseen upkeep costs that range from mow-
ing the lawn to emergency repairs. "Stocks are far
better investments than real estate," he said. "I ve
never had to call a plumber because a mutual fund
---By Maggie Overfelt, special to CNBC.com
From Page 22
Stocks, a better investment
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