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4 Ways to Tap Your House for Cash

Even in a down market, you can safely unlock your equity

4. Share your home


Ten years ago Bonnie Jackson, 68, was hit with the devastating one-two punch of a job loss and a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. To avoid losing her home in Evanston, Illinois, she turned to home sharing. Today she rents out two rooms in her house, which generates $550 apiece in monthly income — enough to cover her mortgage payments.

If you have a child or other family member who can afford to pay rent and needs housing, asking Junior to move back into his childhood bedroom could help both of you make ends meet.


She found most of her tenants via North Suburban Homesharing, a nonprofit that facilitates compatible matches across Chicago's northern suburbs. Jackson says home sharing provides more than just much-needed cash: It is a valuable social and support function as her Parkinson's progresses. "It's nice having someone around to help me lift my jacket up to my shoulders when I'm going out," she says.

More than 100 home-sharing programs exist around the country: You can find a list of programs at the website of the National Shared Housing Resource Center. These organizations screen potential tenants for compatibility and often help negotiate the rental agreements.

Of course, not all household tenants need to be screened: According to the latest Census Bureau statistics, 5.9 million Americans ages 25 through 34 are living with their parents — a figure 25 percent higher than before the recession started. If you have a child or other family member who can afford to pay rent and needs housing, asking Junior to move back into his childhood bedroom could help both of you make ends meet. This time, he might even help you do the dishes.

You might also like: The pros and cons of reverse mortgages.

Financial journalist Mark Miller, author of The Hard Times Guide to Retirement Security: Practical Strategies for Money, Work, and Living, wrote about how to protect Social Security in the September-October 2011 issue. He blogs at Retirement Revised.

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