Could empty nesters help solve Denver's housing crisis?

Posted at 10:14 PM, Jul 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-01 02:07:28-04

DENVER -- Finding an affordable place to live in Denver is harder than ever, but a Denver startup says it has figured out a way to break into an untapped market that could cut rental costs in half.

More and more empty nesters want to fill their nests, to make extra income and stay in their homes.

John Yates, 84, has lived in his Monument home for more than four decades and does not want to downsize.

But after his wife passed away, and the kids moved out, his empty nest started to feel, well, empty.

"It gets very lonely here. It's a big house," said Yates.

So, his daughter quietly started looking online -- not for love, but for a roommate. It turns out, a growing number of seniors are doing the same. Airbnb reports seniors are their fastest growing host demographic, renting rooms to cover rising cost of living and provide company.

Meanwhile, Denver-based Silvernest specifically targets home shares with senior homeowners.

CEO & Co-Founder Wendi Burkhardt boats more than 20,000 matches since the company's launch in 2015.

"I sometimes say it's like a dating site without the dating part of it," said Burkhardt, who explained that her company rates roommates based on preferences ranging from pets to politics, and they check for criminal and eviction histories. "We use a third party, fully accredited service that does a five-point background check."

The renters average in their 40s, and homeowners are mostly women in their 60s.

For renters, it's a bargain. In Denver, a one-bedroom apartment now averages $1,400 a month. Home shares on Silvernest average $750.

It didn't take long for Yates to find a roommate to rent his spare room, for half the cost of her previous apartment.

"The two of us came together, and I knew it was right within 20 minutes," said Yates, who are paired through Silvernest with a 64-year-old roommate. "Now I have someone to talk to when I come home, and we're both interested in hearing about each other's days."

Silvernest costs $29.99 for a 3-month subscription, and customers can pay extra for help with a custom lease and automatic payment tools.