Home Seeker’s Guide to Finding Your Home

Home Seeker’s Guide to Finding Your Home

Home Seekers’ Guide to Finding Your Home

The following steps will help guide you through the process of finding and selecting someone to share a home with. Senior Shared Living representatives will be there to help whenever you need assistance.

Begin the process

Step 1: Assessment
The first step is to determine the reasons you are interested in a home-sharing arrangement. Are you retired and living on a fixed income? Do you need to reduce your monthly expenses? Are you looking for companionship and a measure of security? Are you hoping to find a householder who will assist you with your transportation needs?

Consider what you can afford to pay in rent and utility costs. Federal guidelines recommend spending no more than 30 percent of your monthly income on housing, including utilities. What other expenses do you need to take into account in your budgeting, such as transportation, meals, healthcare premiums and deductibles?

How do you want to live? Do you enjoy your current neighborhood and want to live close by? If you are employed, do you want to live closer to work? Are you looking for a walkable neighborhood near public transportation?

What qualities do you look for in a housemate? What qualities and conditions would be unacceptable to you? See the Home-Seeker Self-Assessment to help you in your assessment. 

Step 2: Complete these forms
Complete Home-Seeker Application and Limitation of Liability Forms. Be sure to include two references. 

Step 3: Submit your forms
If you’ve filled out the forms electronically, you may email them to ssl@scv-seniorcenter.org

If you have filled them out by hand, deliver or send them by postal mail to:

Senior Shared Living
SCV Senior Center
27180 Golden Valley Road
Santa Clarita, CA 91350

A staff member will contact you to verify receipt. If you have questions, contact a Senior Senior Shared Living representative.

Viewing householder ads
All householder advertisements we receive will be posted at the SCV Senior Center in addition to our online ad listing.

You may view householder ads online or make an appointment to meet with a Senior Shared Living representative. If you see an ad that appeals to you and fits your criteria, speak with a Senior Shared Living representative who will contact the householder. The representative will inform the householder of your interest and share your application with her.

The phone interview
The householder will call you if she feels you may be a good fit. You will interview each other during the call. Be honest about your needs and clear about your expectations. To prepare for the interview, review your completed Home-Seeker Self-Assessment Form and use the Interview Questions for Home Seekers as your guide to further develop your questions for the householder. 

Conduct an in-person interview

The in-person interview
If the phone interview was positive and you both agree to move to the in-person interview, the householder will contact you to determine a time to meet at the Senior Center with a Senior Shared Living representative. Bring a photo ID and any additional documents requested by the householder.

Conclude the interview
Make no decisions and sign no agreements at the interview. Even if both you and the householder hit it off, we suggest you both review and reflect before moving on to the next step. She will follow up with you in a day or two.

After the interview

Review and reflect
Take a few minutes to debrief with the Senior Shared Living representative immediately after the meeting. She will guide you through the debrief and assist you in making an assessment of the householder.

Review your initial assessment notes and those you made during the debrief. Refer to the Home-Seeker Review Form (include live link and add to forms) for prompts to aid in your evaluation. This review should give you a good sense of whether this person will be a good match for you.

Taking time to reflect on what you know about the householder and your own expectations may lead you to think of other questions for the householder. If the householder expresses an interest in further discussion, you might want to talk on the phone or meet again for something more social—like dinner or coffee—to get to know the person better.

Check references, verify income, and perform a background check
If this face-to-face meeting is successful, you will likely want to check the householder’s references and verify income. You might also want to do a criminal background check. See the Reference—Income—Background Check Form as a simple template to guide you in pursuing these answers. 

Remember that you might be collecting personal, private information about the other person. It is your responsibility to protect this information. Under no circumstances should you share your Social Security numbers with each other.

Checking references
Reference checks provide an opportunity to talk to people who know the householder and can give you an opinion on her ability to be a good housemate.

At the interview, you should ask for appropriate references, which may include past landlords, roommates, or employers. Ask for references who have known her for a substantial amount of time but are not family members or romantic partners. Always call references yourself, even if a householder offers to have her references call you. Do not accept calls from references unless you have left contact
information for them to return your call.

Verifying income
If your potential housemate indicates that she is employed, her employer can verify employment but will most likely not verify salary. To verify employment, ask for the name of the employer, as well as the name and phone number of the person’s supervisor or the department that handles verification of employment. You may only be able to confirm that the person works for the company and the beginning (and end) date of employment. If you speak with a supervisor, you might ask an open-ended question such as “What can you share about ______ that would help me make the decision to share a home with her?”

Background check
With the person’s name, address, and date of birth as collected from her ID, you can request a criminal background check. Fees will verify depending upon the source you use.

There are many companies that perform national criminal background checks. You can conduct an online search to find them or talk with organizations or programs to see who they use. There is no comprehensive database containing all criminal records, so there is no guarantee that by conducting such a check you will obtain a completely accurate record of her criminal history. However, it is still a helpful screening tool, and is advisable.

Home tour
If, after completing the above steps, the householder offers to show you her home, she will arrange for a Senior Shared Living representative to meet with both of you at her residence. This will allow you both to get a better sense of one another in that home’s environment. It might also prompt more questions and additions to your joint agreement form.

Create your agreement form
If the householder decides to offer space in her home or apartment, she will create an agreement. The agreement may be based on the sample Homeshare Agreement or it may be a document that she creates based on her needs and desires and her understanding of yours. Before you sign the agreement, review it carefully to ensure that she has included the terms important to you and to which you have both orally agreed.

The householder will also request payment of the agreed upon rent and any other applicable payments (first and last, security, etc.). Once she receives your payment, you should receive a house key.