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Why America’s spare bedrooms are worth $174.9 billion



Why America’s spare bedrooms are worth $174.9 billion

Extra rooms are an untapped real estate opportunity.

It’s not unusual to have an extra bedroom in your house. Indeed, a analysis of United States Census data suggests that there are 33.6 million of them across the nation. If you assume that each of these rooms could be rented out for $100 a week (which would be cheap in many areas of the US), that adds up to a whopping $174 billion in missed opportunities for extra cash each year.

According to the Census, there are 357,032,421 bedrooms in America, and 323,391,100 people, leaving a surplus of 33,641,321 rooms. The total number of spare rooms is likely to be even higher since many couples share a bedroom. Overall, there are 9.42% more bedrooms than people.

The simple reality is that if you’re not using a spare room, you can easily score $5,000 a year in extra rental income. An extra $400 a month could help you pay off your mortgage faster.

Renting became increasingly common across the US, after the wave of foreclosures that followed the global financial crisis. Currently 35.6% of properties are rented, up from 33.8% in 2000. That in turn means rental prices are rising, creating a potential opportunity to rent rooms to people who can’t afford to rent an entire property themselves.

Before you take that step, though, consider these issues:

  • Check with your accountant for the tax implications of the extra income and how to handle relevant tax payments.
  • If you’re a homeowner, check on relevant county or state laws surrounding letting spare rooms.
  • If you’re renting, check if the terms of your lease allow subleasing of rooms, and if there are only relevant local regulations.
  • Make sure that your home insurance policy covers tenants as well.
  • Do careful background investigation of potential tenants. Interview them in person and ask for financial records that demonstrate their income.
  • Request a rental bond and two weeks’ rent in advance — this will offer you some security if your tenant proves unreliable.


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