Put your home to work for you
10 Ways Your House Can Make You Money
by Thursday Bram
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Most people think that selling their house is the only way to profit from owning a home. That simply isn't true. Your house can make you money in a wide variety of ways. It might be a good time to investigate your options, especially if your mortgage payments have you a bit worried. Try putting your home to work for you.
1. Rent Out Crash Space
Everyone is familiar with the idea of getting a roommate to cover part of the costs of your current residence, but you may not be comfortable renting out your spare room all the time. Maybe the thought of having a paying guest for only a night or two sounds better to you. It's actually pretty easy to rent out an extra bedroom, or even a couch. Just post your information to a site like AirBnB.com. Posting your room for rent is as simple as filling out a short profile, providing your address and setting a rate. The profile is just a precaution, offering an opportunity for travelers to avoid hosts they might not be comfortable with. While there are other websites that provide similar services, AirBed & Breakfast is one of the most popular because it maintains worldwide listings.
2. Plant Some Produce
Spending hundreds of dollars on a perfectly manicured lawn doesn't have much of a return, but if you're willing to plant something with a little more retail value, you can take advantage of the land around your home. As support for locally grown produce has increased, a few growers like Kipp Nash of the Boulder, Colorado-based Community Roots Farm have developed the idea of a distributed farm. Basically, you plant tomatoes, peas or other produce where you once grew a lawn. You can reduce your food bill by eating your results, or sell it on your own or through a CSA. If a distributed farm already exists in your community, you can often offer up your yard and let the existing organization do most of the work.
3. Sell Your Junk
Many personal finance gurus suggest cleaning out the stuff you've bought over the years like clothes, movies, etc. and selling it. If there's something taking up space in your house that you aren't going to use again, it's worth getting it gone. You'll get a little more space in your home and you'll get a little cash, too. You can sell junk on eBay easily, but watch out. It can turn into a great home-based business before you know it. Suzanne Wells did just that. On her blog, eBaySellingCoach, Suzanne explains how she started selling online to downsize after a divorce. She went thrift shopping to find a new blouse and wound up bringing home clothes to sell on eBay.
4. Rent Some Storage Space
Once you've downsized your own belongings, you may have some room to spare. If that extra space is an area that you can easily close off from the rest of your home, you can often rent it out. Basements, garages or storage sheds are particularly ideal, and you'll want to invest in a padlock so that your prospective renters will be comfortable leaving their property at your home. Since you're effectively taking responsibility for that property, you may also want to add to your insurance. Don't have any room to share? If you have even a small amount of land surrounding your home, you can buy pre-built storage sheds and set them up with minimal effort.
5. Make It In The Movies
Your house can be in the movies and you can earn money on it. Making your home available to location scouts is surprisingly easy. Just register with the local film council. States and regions tend to have their own councils, as do large cities. If, for instance, you live in London, you'd fill out the Location Registration Form for filmlondon and submit photos of your home. Depending on the project and location of your home, the rental rate can range between $500 USD (£315) and $5,000 USD (£3,150). If you do rent out your home to film productions, be aware that you'll need a place to stay for the duration of the filming.
6. Put It In Park
Especially in big cities, car owners are always looking for a place to keep their vehicles. The same holds true for boat and motorcycle owners. If you have room in your garage or even in your driveway, you may be able to offer that space up for cash, especially if you live in a busy part of town, such as near a hospital or a business area, where parking is scarce. Craigslist.com actually has a section devoted to parking and storage ads, making it very easy to offer up your spare parking spaces.
7. Leverage Your Equity
Especially these days, relying on property values to increase isn't a great way to make money, but you can borrow money against the value of your home's equity to finance another investment. While you should only borrow money against your home if you're really certain that you can handle paying it back even if your planned investment goes south, it can be an easy way to get money for purchasing a rental property, starting a business or otherwise investing.
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8. Share Office Space
Co-working, the practice of sharing office space by individuals who run their own businesses or telecommute for different companies, has become popular. In Philadelphia, for instance, a group of co-workers rent space together at Indy Hall. If you've already got a great home office set up, there's nothing stopping your from renting out a desk or two in your office area along with an internet connection, of course.
9. Set Up a Web Cam
There are plenty of donation-based websites making money off a streaming video straight from somebody's web cam. You don't even have to put on a show for the camera. Consider CatCam.com, which catches the occasional image of Erik Max Francis' cats eating and wandering around. There are other options as well, such as offering a show of your Halloween or Christmas decorations. That's what Alek Komarnitsky does. He also has set up controls, allowing visitors to the website to control his Halloween decorations.
10. Run a Home-Based Business and Claim the Tax Deduction
There are hundreds of opportunities to run a business from your home, from offering daycare services to web-based businesses to anything else you can think of. There are some perks that go along with working at home beyond paychecks, as well. In many countries (including the U.S. and the U.K.), you can deduct at least a portion of the expenses of owning and maintaining your home on your taxes if it's also your work location. You will want to consult your tax preparer about the specifics of the home office deduction.
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