2009 Real Estate Guide
A small modern looking home with a rooftop with foliage and trees on top of a set of house plans
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Can't sell? Try renting out your home

Stay put and share

If you have more room than you use, consider leasing some of that space for short periods.

When Celia Morris got divorced, she rented out part of her Washington, D.C., row house to bring in extra income. After many years with a long-term renter, she now gets a series of short-term people in town for a few weeks or a month or two -- a mix of vacationers and people doing research at federal agencies or internships. She joined a bed and breakfast association and gets far more money than she did renting it on her own.

"I get guests from all over the world, and they're always really interesting people," she says. "The only drag has been the white-gloved lady who wants to find dirt, and in a 150-year-old house, you can find it if you want it."

Peg Simpson bought an old Victorian home in Washington, D.C., in 1975 "for a song." Renting parts of it has helped her pay for renovations and stay put while prices soared around her. She takes only female tenants, and they lease the third floor for short periods.

You need to be clear what you want and don't want, Simpson says. Will you take pets? One of her favorite tenants was a law professor from Missouri. However, the guest's dogs wreaked havoc on the house. But even that tenant looked pretty good after Simpson got about three-dozen replies to her Craigslist posting -- many describing in great detail their drinking, reading and partying habits.

"It was clear they thought this was a group house, and they all sounded like 20-year-olds," she says.

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