During our first Great Depression, many families, and middle-aged or retired people took on boarders to help pay their expenses. That time may again be upon us. In fact, a recent article described the trend of Boomers aged 50 and up, using home-share organizations for just such purpose. Unlike their parents and grandparents, most Boomers did not "save" for retirement, but rather, they invested for it, and with the world markets (including housing) going bust, much of their retirement funds have been lost.
From Chicago, to Atlanta, and Vermont, there has been a dramatic increase in Boomers seeking roommates and or rooms to rent with younger families. The article even talks about several Boomer couples sharing in the purchase of a large home in order to avoid the whole nursing home scene. This would enable them to be with good friends rather than strangers, and have the ability to hire a nurse to take care of them for much less than the $4000 per month that some assisted living or nursing homes would charge.
Communal living is making a comeback... and it's not just for Boomers. Young families are also in need of assistance. I remember watching a news story years ago about families in Boulder, Colorado buying homes together because housing was too expensive for one family to purchase it alone (even with both couples working). So, they found a way to share the home.
There are many homes and properties out there conducive to this type of sharing. The 36-Acre Ranchettes, St. Johns, Arizona is a perfect example. These properties can be legally split into five parcels. While the asking price of $69,000 may be too big of a chunk for one family to afford, $13,800 may not be. There is an owner carry option on these properties as well, with no qualifying. How about just splitting the payment five ways? I've even got a vacation property listed in Greer, Arizona (www.greerloghome.com ) that would be perfect for "sharing". I would never have thought of marketing it in that way until after I read the article linked above. My sister-in-law and her husband shared a rental house that had two living rooms with her best friend and husband. They were able to pool their resources in order to make it work.
Apparently, there are homes in the Detroit area selling for as little as $1.00 in some instances. What a great way to start an artists colony... start building up the community again. I'm sure there are neighborhoods across the country where this type of scenario could apply.
Solutions, not problems... remember that old Bank One motto? I believe that we, in this Real Estate industry can find the solutions, and maybe, just maybe some of these ideas will work. All of the bail-outs in the world aren't going to fix this problem. Hey, we're a pretty smart group of people, professionals in our field after all. It's not just about moving properties, it's about finding solutions. If anyone can think outside the box, it's gotta be us. So let's do it!