Basics:

HomeShare Online helps seniors find compatible roommates

Expected pay: you set it

Husl$core: $$$$

Commissions & fees: 0- $25 per month for homeowners; 0-$15 per month for renters

Where: Nationwide

Requirements: 18 or older; identity and background check

What is HomeShare Online?

HomeShare Online, a rebranded and revamped version of a site called Silvernest, aims to help seniors find compatible roommates to share expenses and/or chores.

How it works

If you want to rent out a room in your home — or rent a room in someone else’s — you have two choices here. You can sign up for a free account, which has some usage limitations. Or you can pay a monthly fee to get free background checks, greater access to renters (or homeowners), as well as some site-specific help, such as renter contracts.

We’ll explain more of the details of the subscription plans under “commissions and fees” below.

However, either way, HomeShare will ask you fill out a detailed profile that tells about your age, gender, sexual preferences, whether you smoke, have pets and the qualities you’re looking for in a roommate. The site will then ask you to verify your identity.

If you’re a homeowner, you’ll be asked to provide photos of the home and yourself. If you’re a renter, you should ideally publish a personal photo. However, where an ID check is required photos are not.

HomeShare Online review:

The idea behind HomeShare Online, is a simple one. Older people who still own the home that they raised families in are likely to have extra space. They also are often house rich and cash poor. After all, your retirement income is likely to be less than your working income. And, if you’re maintaining the big family home — possibly still paying on the mortgage — that could be an economic burden.

It would be great to share the house and expenses Golden Girls style. But how do you find compatible roommates? That’s where this site comes in.

By asking a variety of questions about your roommate preferences, the site aims to give each potential roommate a “ShareScore,” which indicates how well the roommate’s preferences align with your own. This is not a comprehensive, eHarmony-style match. The questions asked are not about what types of books you read and whether you’re religious or an exercise enthusiast.

HomeShare’s questions are more about whether you’re tidy and whether you expect the same in a roommate. Do you smoke? Do you have pets — and are you okay with your roommate having pets? Should your roommate to be the same gender as you? Do you have age-preferences for roommates? Are you willing to provide a discount on rent in exchange for the roommate doing chores? And are you willing to do chores, in exchange for discounted rent?

In other words, the site’s ShareScore is more about whether or not you’ll kill each other after a week in the same home, not about whether you’re going to become besties.

Fees and commissions

You can access most aspects of this site for free. This includes posting a profile (for both homeowners and renters) and communicating with as many homeowners and renters as you want.

If homeowners opt for a premium membership here, they’ll pay $24.95 a month. This subscription automatically renews.

Renters, who choose a premium subscription pay $14.95 a month. This subscription also automatically renews.

However, the main benefit of a premium membership is that the $29.99 background check, that you can order as a homeowner or renter on the free plan, is included in the premium plan.

Homeowners also get access to a renter agreement that you can customize to your situation.

We don’t see how that’s enough to justify the subscription price, unless you subscribe for just a month for the free background check and (potentially) the rental agreement, and then cancel.

Notably, when we first reviewed Silvernest — HomeShare’s predecessor company, the premium membership offered considerably more benefits to homeowners, including rent collection and some legal advice on dealing with renters. As a former landlord, I thought the rent collection and legal advice elements made the paid plan well worth the price.

Now that less is included, we do not recommend the paid subscription.

Background checks

Notably, the background screening does not include a credit check. Homeowners should get a credit check on their renters, too. (Here’s a good story that runs through the steps: How to run a credit check on a renter.)

One caution

Somewhere around the time the site was rebranded to HomeShare Online from Silvernest, the site also became owned by Finance of America Reverse. FAR is a reverse mortgage lender. (Reverse mortgages are an expensive product that allow seniors to take equity from their homes with the promise that it will be paid back when they die or move.)

HomeShare Online’s terms state that the company can share customer information with Finance of America Reverse. So, it’s unclear whether registering here as a homeowner leaves you open to sales pitches from FAR.

Recommendations:

We like this site for the free services, but no longer recommend the paid plan.

The number of rental options also seems far less robust than it did when we initially reviewed the site in 2021. It still may be a decent place to find a long-term renter. And, certainly, it doesn’t hurt to check here when you can use the site for free. You can sign up with HomeShare Online here.

However, if you’re interested in a more temporary arrangement — say a month or two — take a look at SabbaticalHomes, which specializes in mid-term rentals to educators. Another good option, Furnished Finder, specializes in finding one-to-three-month rentals for traveling nurses.

If you want to just rent a room or two to short-term guests, our top recommendation is Airbnb.

What their customers say: (from the BBB)

I used Silvernest to find my father a housemate when he could no longer afford his rent, and it has allowed my dad to stay in his home and age in place. This service felt very secure and we appreciated the option to ask for a background check on the housemate.

Landlord has Alzheimer’s dementia. Constant invasion of privacy. Snooping through my room, inspecting my trash that has body waste in it and demanding answers as to what’s in it. Filling washer with water and leaving it. Washing clothes every day. Silvernest does nothing to protect the renters.

Updated 5/8/2024

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