Room for rent: Nashville home buyers take on roommates to help pay the mortgage
Sydney Salati bought a new house in an emerging neighborhood near downtown Nashville, but it doesn’t cost her anything each month.
Salati has space for two roommates. Their monthly rent payments cover the mortgage.
“I thought that with roommates I would cover my mortgage, if not make some money,” said Salati, who owns a three-bedroom, 1,700-square-foot house in Buena Vista Heights, a neighborhood near MetroCenter that is attracting new home construction because of its location minutes north of downtown.
Growing numbers of home buyers, particularly single young women, are choosing to rent space to one or more roommates, said Baley Bodden, a Realtor with The Bodden Sisters Team of Exit Realty Music City.
Lisa Culp Taylor, of the LCT Team of Parks Realty, said it is important when choosing a roommate to find someone who will respect the value of your home. (Photo: Submitted)
The advantages are “not living alone, supplemental income. Depending on what you charge for rent, you actually pay your mortgage. You’re building equity in a home and living for free,” said Bodden, who was Salati’s Realtor.
“Twenty-five percent of our clients are in that situation,” said Blair Bodden, also a Realtor with the Bodden Sisters Team. “The majority are probably still single and are not raising a family.”
Having a roommate can help create a social network and a sense of security for young professionals new to the city. Those were two of the reasons Vanderbilt doctoral student Meghan Grace decided have a roommate when she purchased a townhome in Lenox Village on the southeast side of the city.
“We’re two girls and we feel completely safe,” said Grace.
Having a roommate is “definitely a safety issue,” said Gretchen Fitzsimmons, Grace’s real estate agent.
“It’s a little of financing and a little of safety, more for girls than the guys,” said Fitzsimmons, a Realtor with the Ashton Group of Re/Max Advantage in Nashville.
“I’m working with someone right now who’s going to have a roommate to help pay the mortgage,” she said.
The arrangement can benefit roommates as well as homeowners. Salati charges her renters $890 per month, utilities included.
That amount is “a lot less than anywhere else in Nashville,” she said, and her roommates get to live in a newly built home in the heart of the city.
The average monthly apartment rent in Nashville is $1,388, according to Rent Jungle, which tracks markets nationwide.
Buyers and roommates can find one another on social media sites such as Nashvilleroomsforrent.com, said Salati.
“We have a lot of friends in common. We’ve just never met,” she said of her roommates.
Lisa Culp Taylor advises clients to be sure any future roommates are respectful of hardwood floors and home in general. (Photo: Submitted)
Lisa Culp Taylor, a Realtor with the Lisa Culp Taylor Team at Parks Realty, offered a word of caution. Homeowners should protect themselves by having their renters sign a lease or roommate agreement, even if it’s not as detailed as the one between television’s most famous roommates, Sheldon and Leonard on “The Big Bang Theory.”
Lisa Culp Taylor, LCT Team of Parks Realty (Photo: Submitted)
“Maybe not to that extent, but there needs to be some sort of lease agreement, and it should definitely have some sort of deposit,” said Taylor.
It’s important to set expectations in advance, she said.
“You can’t be the den mother. Not everyone is as clean or values your property as you would,” she said. “You might think this is going to be great, going to be fun, but you may lose a friendship.”
Roommates should take steps to protect themselves by purchasing renter’s insurance to cover their property as well as liability if they damage the home, said Bruce Smith, who operates Bruce Smith State Farm in Franklin.
That would help protect them if they left a candle burning “and come back and the fire department’s putting out a fire,” he said.
Having roommates is a growing trend, said Taylor.
“Nashville rent is escalating so much it makes this a little more of a necessity,” she said.