Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Monetizing the House, the Old-Fashioned Way

Sarah Purcell's house
When Sarah Wentworth Purcell's husband died in 1776, she became a gentlewoman in reduced circumstances. To generate income she took in roomers.  Today, writes Amy Zipkin in The New York Times, Airbnb and other rental sites enable retirees, predominantly women, to monetize their homes in the same way. (Yes, everything old is new again.)

Short-term rentals generate extra money without requiring the homeowner to take on new debt. No home equity loan. No reverse mortgage. In addition:

Rentals may allow the homeowner to remain in a house tbat's otherwise unjustifiably large for an empty nester. Arranging rentals keeps the homeowner healthily active. And the homeowner meets a stimulating stream of new people, perhaps including visitors from around the world. She might even get to know someone who's about to become famous.

Sarah Purcell did. In 1777 one of her roomers was a Scot waiting for his ship to be built nearby. The ship was the Ranger, and John Paul Jones became our nation's first navel hero.

Sarah's home still stands in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, now known (sorry, Sarah) as the John Paul Jones House.

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